How to Move to Canada Permanently After Marrying a Canadian


Marrying a Canadian citizen is one of the most straightforward paths to permanent residency in Canada. For many international couples, making the move to Canada together is an exciting new chapter. However, navigating the immigration process can seem daunting if you don’t know where to start.

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible to apply for Canadian permanent residency through sponsorship by your spouse or common-law partner, there are a few basic requirements you need to meet:

  • Genuine relationship: You and your sponsor must be in a legitimate marital or common-law partnership. Canadian officials will assess factors like shared finances, living together, or children to confirm the relationship is real.
  • Minimum time together: Generally, spouses/partners must have lived together in a conjugal relationship for at least one year at the time of application. This demonstrates a commitment to the relationship.
  • Communication in common: You and your sponsor must be able to communicate in either English or French. There are exceptions for those over 65 or with disabilities.
  • Admissibility: You cannot have any serious criminal background or medical inadmissibility that would be a risk to Canada. Your character and conduct must meet their standards.
  • Financial requirements: Your sponsor must demonstrate they can financially support both of you through income and asset requirements without relying on social assistance programs.

Provided both you and your sponsor meet the eligibility criteria above, you should qualify to apply through this sponsored partner route to permanent residency. Let’s now look more closely at the application process itself.

The Application Process

There are several steps involved in applying for permanent residency as the sponsored spouse or partner of a Canadian:

1. Gather Required Documents

You’ll need to prepare a long list of supporting documents to prove your relationship and eligibility. This includes marriage or common-law partnership certificates, lease agreements, bank statements, travel itineraries, social media photos together and more.

2. Submit an Online Application

All applications must now be filed online. This involves filling out the forms, uploading documents, paying fees, and getting photos taken according to their specifications.

3. Receive Acknowledgement of Receipt

Once submitted, you’ll receive an acknowledgment of receipt within a few days that your application is under review. This marks the official start of processing.

4. Conduct Your Medical Exam

At some point, you will receive instructions to complete an immigration medical exam. This helps identify any potential health issues that could impact costs to the healthcare system.

5. Provide Additional Documentation

During processing, officials may request additional evidence or clarification on information submitted. They’ll notify you through your Canada immigration account if more is needed.

6. Receive Decision

Assuming everything is approved, the goal is to receive a decision within 6-12 months. You’ll either be approved for permanent residency or have your application refused for the reasons provided.

7. Obtain Travel Documents

Approved applicants will receive a permanent resident card or visa they can use to enter Canada and finally settle in their new home country alongside your sponsor!

That covers the key steps involved in the application journey. Now let’s examine each part of the process in more detail.

Gathering Required Documents

Having the right supporting documentation is critical to proving your relationship meets all requirements. Here are some of the main documents you must include:

  • Proof of relationship: Marriage certificate, common-law partnership declaration stating the date cohabitation began.
  • Proof of genuine residency together: Lease agreements showing the same addresses, utility bills, bank statements, and employment records.
  • Communication: Correspondence like emails, letters, chat logs, social media messages, and photos together over time.
  • Travel: Boarding passes, hotel receipts, and entry stamps from visits to each other’s countries.
  • Financials: Joint bank accounts, credit cards, assets, tax returns, insurance policies.
  • Commitment: Testimonial letters from family/friends’ children’s birth certificates, if applicable.
  • Official ID: Passport bio pages, birth certificate copies, police clearances if needed.

Be sure to provide translations of any non-English documents too. Organizing records chronologically also helps tell your relationship story professionally.

Completing the Online Application

When ready to formally apply, you and your sponsor will need to create Canada immigration accounts and complete online forms/upload materials. Here’s what to expect:

Forms to Complete:

  • IMM 5409 – Use of a Representative: If using an immigration lawyer or consultant.
  • IMM 5257 – Schedule A, Background/Declaration: Your personal details, background, and declaration.
  • IMM 5707 – Statutory Declaration of Common-Law Union: Sponsor declares cohabitation period.
  • IMM 5406 – Use of Sponsorship and Statutory Declaration of Sponsor: Sponsor completes financials details.

Supporting Documents to Upload:

  • Proof of relationship documents discussed earlier, such as marriage license.
  • ID pages of passports and birth certificates for you and your sponsor.
  • Photos showing your relationship history together are clearly labeled.
  • Police clearances from countries of residence over six months in the last ten years.
  • Background questionnaires are from a high-risk country for immigration.

Once completed, you’ll pay the application fees – typically $550-1,000 CAD depending on the processing route chosen. Next is undergoing your immigration medical exam.

Immigration Medical Exams

As part of the admissibility screening process, all applicants over 18 must take an immigration medical exam with an approved panel physician. This helps identify any potential conditions like communicable diseases or health issues requiring Canadian healthcare support.

The physical exam covers basics like height, weight, vision, and vaccines. You’ll also undergo assessments and tests tailored to your individual case as needed. The process normally takes 1-2 hours to fully complete.

Afterward, certified results will be sent directly to immigration officials addressing concerns like “pass” or “fail” and any notes on conditions limiting work eligibility. Be aware that delays or conditions identified could impact your application’s approval chances.

How to Move to Canada Permanently After Marrying a Canadian

Receiving a Decision

Canada’s goal is to process 80% of sponsorship applications within six months, while more complex ones may take up to 12 months. Technically no legal time limitation exists.

While under review, you are allowed to work in Canada but not receive social benefits. If additional information is needed, officials will contact your online account. Similarly, you’ll receive a decision letter that is accessible digitally once approved or denied.

For most, approval means a permanent resident “landing” in Canada with unrestricted rights to live, work, and study. Your sponsor must agree to meet financial support commitments. The rejection letter will cite reasons for this, but you could possibly request reconsideration at your expense.

Approved applicants then await arrival documents to make their physical move to start a new life alongside their sponsoring spouse/partner in Canada. Be sure to enter the country before any deadlines on those travel documents. Congratulations on nearing the final stages!

Entering Canada as a Permanent Resident

Following approval, you’ll receive instructions for either obtaining the actual physical permanent resident card or temporary resident visa to initially enter Canada.

The card is usually mailed 4-6 weeks after approval, while processing a visa takes 3-4 months but allows earlier travel. It remains valid for five years before renewal is needed. Proper entry with this proof of status kicks off residency, which counts for future citizenship eligibility.

While crossing the border, be prepared with your documents, and reuniting luggage, and patient for standard questioning by officers. Confirming marital status is legal and showing settled housing arrangements helps a smooth entry. You’ll soon be welcomed officially as a new permanent resident beginning your Canadian journey!

Key Requirements Summary

Before diving into the application itself, let’s summarize the main eligibility requirements again:

  • Genuine marital or common-law relationship with your sponsoring spouse/partner for at least 12 continuous months at the time of application
  • The ability for you and your sponsor to communicate in English or French
  • Your sponsor’s current legal status as a Canadian citizen or permanent resident
  • Your sponsor’s ability to financially support both of you through meeting income thresholds without government assistance
  • Your good character with a clean background and no serious medical inadmissibilities

Provided both partners meet the criteria, the sponsored spouse/partner route offers one of the clearest pathways to Canadian permanent residency and finally living in Canada long-term together. From here, you can start the formal application process through Canada’s online immigration system.

Frequently Asked Questions

What documentation is required?

To prove your marital or common-law relationship meets Canada’s definition of genuine and legitimate, you need to provide extensive documentation showing evidence of your relationship over time. This includes:

  • Marriage or common-law partnership certificate
  • Lease or mortgage agreements with both your names
  • Bank statements showing joint accounts
  • Phone/utility bills with the same addresses
  • Photos together throughout your relationship history
  • Travel records like flight/hotel receipts of visits between countries
  • Birth certificates if you have children together
    -Testimonial letters from family/friends
  • Social media posts and messages spanning months/years

Organize records chronologically to assist officials in verifying the relationship dates back at least 12 months prior to application. Provide translations if documents are not in English or French.

2. How long is the processing time?

Processing times for Canadian sponsorship applications average 6-12 months currently. 80% of straightforward cases with no concerns are finalized within the shorter 6-month target. More complex situations involving multiple dependencies, medical inadmissibilities, or background checks may take closer to 12 months for a final decision. There are no official maximum processing timelines, so some applications could potentially extend beyond a year in rare cases.

3. Can I work while the application is in process?

As long as you enter Canada legally by obtaining the proper visitor visa or other valid temporary status, you are allowed to work full-time in an authorized capacity while your sponsorship application for permanent residency is under review. This enables you to settle in Canada with your sponsor and become financially independent without relying on social assistance during the processing timeframe. However, you cannot access provincial healthcare or other government benefits meant for citizens/permanent residents only.

4. What if we get divorced/separated before a decision?

If, unfortunately, your relationship with the sponsoring spouse/partner ends through divorce or separation before a final immigration decision is issued, your eligibility for Canadian permanent residency through family sponsorship will no longer be valid. In this case, you would need to leave Canada or pursue other independent immigration options. It’s important the sponsorship application accurately reflects your relationship status right up to the time an approval confirmation is granted. Ending the sponsorship relationship obligates you to update officials and likely see your pending case refused as a result.

5. Can I apply from outside of Canada?

Yes, it is absolutely possible to apply for Canadian permanent residency through spousal/common-law sponsorship from overseas as long as you meet all eligibility criteria jointly with your sponsoring partner living in Canada. In fact, initiating the process prior to arriving helps receive an approval decision allowing entry directly as a permanent resident versus a short-term visitor status. Just be prepared to participate fully in the application through proper communication channels, complete medical exams at overseas panel clinics, and submit all necessary documentation to immigration officials for review exactly as if you were applying from within Canada.

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