Canada still accepting spousal immigration applications despite coronavirus


The Canadian government has announced they will still be accepting and processing spousal and common-law sponsorship applications for partners who are both in Canada and abroad.

This is good news for applicants, both inside and outside of Canada, who have not yet had an opportunity to file their applications with the Canadian Immigration authorities.

As the Canadian government continues to refine COVID-19 measures, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has ironed out a few of the concerns that couples may have about sponsorship during the crisis.

Intake of incomplete applications

IRCC has indicated that they will continue to accept and process new applications for permanent residence and may accept incomplete applications during the coronavirus pandemic. This will allow you not to delay a submission simply because you are unable to obtain a required document due to service disruptions caused by COVID-19.

If you will be filing a new spouse or common-law sponsorship application shortly and you are unable to provide the required supporting documentation the applicant must provide a detailed letter of explanation detailing the COVID related delays.

Incomplete applications will be kept and reviewed in 90 days. If the application is still incomplete in 60 days, IRCC officers are instructed to request the missing documents with an additional 90-day deadline.

Collecting social assistance may not make you ineligible to sponsor

As a general rule, applicants who are in receipt of last resort social assistance may be considered ineligible to sponsor their spouse or common-law partner. The Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations define social assistance in broad terms and therefore it is important to determine which one would render you ineligible to sponsor.

The intent of this rule is to bar persons whose primary or sole source of income is “social assistance” benefits. If you have been recently laid off and are looking to the government for aid, know that receiving assistance, for example, Employment Insurance benefits would not render you inadmissible as a sponsor.

Other examples of benefits which may not render you ineligible to sponsor would include but are not limited to:

  • subsidized housing
  • tax credits
  • child care subsidies
  • other benefits which would be widely available to residents of a province or territory, including persons who are employed

Spouses and common-law partners exempt from travel restrictions

On March 18, 2020 the government of Canada has announced that they will prohibit the entry of foreign nationals into Canada as an effort to help stop the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic. This travel restriction is in place until June 30, 2020.

Exceptionally, immediate family members of Canadian citizens or Canadian permanent residents are exempt from the above travel restriction.

Both spouses and common-law partners are considered immediate family, which means they are still allowed to enter Canada from abroad. Travelers should identify themselves to the airlines and bring with them supporting documentation to demonstrate their immediate family members status in Canada and their relation. Recommended documents include but are not limited to:

  • Marriage certificate or evidence of common law status
  • Canadian Passport or Permanent resident Card
  • Birth Certificate
  • Other documents that demonstrate an immediate family connection

Paper and electronic versions of the above-mentioned documents should be accepted.

It is important to keep in mind that despite your ability to travel under the above-mentioned exemption, if you are travelling by air, you will need to pass a health check conducted by the airlines before you are allowed to board your flight and must not show any symptoms of COVID-19.

Note that standard travel documents are still required and therefore travelers must ensure they have either a tourist visa or electronic travel authorization as needed.