After applying to sponsor your spouse or common-law partner for Canadian immigration, you may wish to track the progress of your application, update your application, or otherwise contact Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). You also need to complete some important milestones before you can finally become a permanent resident of Canada.
After applying, you could wait a long time to get permanent residency. The processing standard for new spousal sponsorship applications is 12 months. However, IRCC’s own processing time calculator is estimating interior applications take an average of 15 months, and foreign candidates take about 24 months.
IRCC webpage states that processing begins the day your complete application is received. When officials determine that your submitted application is complete, you will receive an Acknowledgment of Receipt (AOR) and an application number. IRCC indicates on its webpage that it has taken a long time to issue AORs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If IRCC officials will return your application if it is incomplete or if any fees are missing.
Here’s what you can expect between the time you submit your application and the time you officially become a Canadian permanent resident.
IRCC will first review the eligibility of the Canadian sponsor. If all forms and documents are present, IRCC will send an email or letter confirming that the application has been accepted for processing. IRCC will then assess the sponsor’s eligibility and send an email or letter with the decision.
If the sponsorship undertaking is approved, IRCC will send the application for permanent residence to the appropriate processing office. IRCC will then decide if the sponsored person is eligible for permanent residence.
If the undertaking is refused, IRCC will explain why in an email or letter.
Residents of Quebec
If you live in Quebec and you are applying for spousal sponsorship, the foreign spouse must complete and sign the Application for permanent selection – Family class category form. This document must be attached to the sponsor’s undertaking application to the Government of Quebec.
If the Government of Quebec approves the undertaking application, it will send IRCC the information necessary to process your application for permanent residence.
Once the Canadian spouse or common-law partner is deemed eligible, IRCC will send you (or your authorized representative) an AOR with your application number on it.
The application number allows you to link your application to your secure IRCC account. This way, couples can communicate with IRCC and get updates and messages on their online application.
During processing, IRCC will ask you to submit your:
- medical exams;
- police certificates; and
All foreign family members (who are not already Canadian citizens or permanent residents) must pass a medical examination, even if they are not applying to come to Canada with you. IRCC says failure to declare and have family members screened will affect your application and your ability to sponsor them in the future.
IRCC will send you and each family member a request to have a medical examination at an appropriate time during treatment. It will contain instructions on what to do. You may not receive it immediately after the request because the medical results expire and IRCC may ask you to do them later to reduce the risk of having to undergo a medical examination again.
If you have already passed an immigration medical exam, you must provide details in the “medical exam” section of your document checklist. Depending on when the exam was taken, you may need to do it again.
Applicants for immigration aged 18 and over must provide a valid police certificate for any country other than Canada in which you have spent six consecutive months or more since the age of 18.
If the original certificate is not in English or French, you must have a certified translator translate it and include both the police certificate and the original copy of the translation.
IRCC will also conduct its own background checks to see if there are any reasons why you or your family members may not be admissible to Canada.
For more specific and up-to-date information, IRCC offers a guide on where to get a police certificate.
Once the biometrics fee has been paid, IRCC will send your family members a letter asking them to provide their biometrics. Family members must show this letter when giving their biometrics. They have 30 days to submit their biometric data in person at the nearest collection point. IRCC recommends scheduling biometric appointments as soon as possible to avoid delays.
IRCC will send instructions to let your family members know how long they have to submit their biometrics.
Open work permits for domestic sponsorship applicants
If you are applying to immigrate from within Canada, you may be eligible for Spouse’s open work permit. This work permit allows you to work anywhere in Canada while your application for permanent residence is being processed. You can either submit your application for an open work permit with your application for permanent residence, or after your application.
IRCC says the open work permit application is normally processed in four months.
If an interview is required, IRCC will notify you in writing. IRCC will let you know the date, time and place of the interview and provide you with a list of documents to bring.
During an interview, an officer may ask you, the principal applicant, the following:
- relationship with sponsor
- level of education
- reasons to immigrate
- plans and preparations
- financial situation
- past difficulties with the law
IRCC may also ask questions that will be used to assess your means of establishing yourself in Canada.
Once the PR is approved
To allow IRCC to complete the processing of the application once it is approved, you must send the following documents for everyone immigrating to Canada, including dependent children:
- passports or photocopies of passports (IRCC will let you know which ones)
- two photographs
- proof of payment of right of permanent residence fees, if not already submitted.
IRCC will tell you where to send this information.
If the sponsored spouse or any dependents are outside of Canada, IRCC will send them a Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) and permanent resident visa (if required) once their application has been processed. Once received, you will be able to travel to Canada and meet an officer at a Canadian port of entry before these documents expire. The officer will make the final decision to allow your family members to enter Canada as permanent residents.
If you are inside Canada, you must meet with an immigration officer to receive your COPR. IRCC will send you a letter to schedule your appointment and tell you what documents to bring. The officer will make the final decision on your application for permanent residence.
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