The Spousal Sponsorship application process is a daunting and time consuming task. It is very administrative for the most part, but can also be overwhelming and challenging should a case not be straight-forward (previous marriages, arranged marriages, marriages less than 2 years, children from previous marriages, common-law relationships). Typical spousal applications are over 100 pages, after including all government forms and accompanying evidentiary documents. If documents are required to be translated, it can be much more.
The Canadian government has become increasingly more strict when reviewing applications and granting approvals. There has been a growing number of fraudulent applications from people who are using the Spousal Sponsorship application process to obtain permanent residence illegally. This has made it much more challenging to prepare a strong application that will be approved without issues. Often, when individuals attempt to apply on their own, the application is weak and the visa officer is not convinced of the genuineness of the relationship. They will either request an interview for both people, issue a fairness letter requesting more evidence with further explanation, or an outright refusal.
• Application is returned: If an application was not complete, CPC-M will return the application after 2 to 2.5 months. If the application was filed Inland, and a person is relying on implied status via the Open Work Permit being approved, they will fall out of status as the work permit will not be processed. If the person has been out of status for less than 90 days, they can apply for Restoration of Status and resubmit the Spousal application. If 90 days have passed since falling out of status, they will need to leave Canada.
• In person interviews: People often get nervous and act suspicious, or they answer questions incorrectly- this happens all too often. The visa officer will take detailed notes of the interview and will refuse the application if they are not convinced after the interview.
• Procedural Fairness letter: IRCC will send a Fairness Letter, requesting additional information. It is imperative to provide a detailed submission letter, along with evidence that will support the application. Failure to do so will result in a refusal. If you find yourself in this situation, it is strongly advised to retain professional help to help prepare a response.
• Refusal: If an application is refused, the person in Canada will no longer have status. The only option would be to retain a law firm to file a Judicial review on the original application or submit a new application. A Judicial Review process will take 6 to 12 months, plus up to 6 additional months for IRCC to process the application. If the application was an Outland application, an appeal can be filed with the IAD (immigration appeal division) and a hearing date will be scheduled to be held in 1.5 to 2 years. During this time, your spouse will not be able to travel to Canada, unless they already have a valid TRV. If they do not have a valid TRV, the IRCC will not issue a TRV after a refused sponsorship application.
If an application is refused, PR will not be granted for over 2 years. If the application was an Outland application, and your spouse comes from a non visa-exempt country which requires a TRV visa to travel to Canada, they will not be able to travel to Canada for a minimum of 2 years, unless they already have a TRV visa. After a refused spousal application, the IRCC will not approve a TRV visa.
The IRCC scrutinizes the genuineness of every relationship to ensure the applicant is not committing marriage fraud in order to immigrate. If the officer is not convinced the marriage is genuine, they will refuse the application and can ban the sponsored spouse for 5 years from entering Canada for Misrepresentation.
What to do if my Sponsorship application is refused?
Inland Spousal Sponsorship applications are not eligible for an appeal; individuals will need to re-apply. Outland Spousal Sponsorship applications are eligible, and an appeal must be filed within 30 days of receiving the refusal letter, otherwise the decision will be upheld.
Some criteria that the IRCC takes into consideration when assessing applications:
Compatibility of couple
Co-habitation (or lack of)
Length of relationship (2 years and shorter require more documents)
Differences in religion, or caste (eg: Indian, Pakistani relationships)
Difference in education