General guidelines for family class sponsorship

Canadian citizens and permanent residents (aged 19 years and older) may (under certain conditions) sponsor a spouse or immediate family member for permanent residence in Canada.

Sponsorship applications filed and processed outside Canada retain the Right of Appeal to the Immigration Appeal Division if the permanent residence application is refused.

If you are sponsoring a spouse to whom you have been married for at least 2 years, or have children together, your husband or wife will receive full permanent residence on approval of the sponsorship application. Common-law partners (persons with whom you have been co-habiting in a marriage-like relationship for at least one year) are also granted conditional permanent residence if you have lived with them for less than 2 years, and have to live together with you for at least 2 years in Canada for the conditions on their permanent resident status to be lifted.

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Sponsoring a same-sex partner is done in the same way as sponsoring an opposite-sex partner; provided a couple have lived together for at least one year, they are considered for immigration purposes to be common-law partners. To be considered married for Canadian immigration purposes, same-sex couples must marry in Canada, or they must marry in other countries which Canada regards as affording equal rights to same-sex couples.

As a general principle, Canada will accept as a valid marriage for immigration purposes any marriage that is recognized by the laws of the country in which the couple marry, provided the marriage would be legal in Canadian law if performed in Canada. Canada also recognizes proxy marriages e.g. where a party to the marriage cannot be present in person, but is represented by an attorney at the ceremony, provided the proxy marriage is accepted by the Federal authorities of the country in which it is performed.