Inland Spousal and Common-Law Partner Sponsorship

Last updated: 5 October 2021

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Inland sponsorship allows Canadians and permanent residents to sponsor their spouse or common-law partner for permanent resident status if the couple is already living together in Canada.

This Canadavisa page provides a complete overview of Inland sponsorship and its key components to help you determine if this spousal sponsorship category is right for you.

Table of Contents


What is Inland sponsorship? 

Inland sponsorship allows Canadians and permanent residents to sponsor their loved one, provided the couple is legally living (cohabiting) together in Canada.

To apply under Inland sponsorship, the foreign spouse or common-law partner must also have valid temporary status in Canada, either as a worker, student, or visitor. During the processing of an Inland sponsorship application the sponsored person will be able to continue to live, work or study in Canada.

In order for the sponsored person to receive a Canadian PR visa through Inland sponsorship, both the Canadian citizen or permanent resident and the foreign national will need to be approved by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

A key benefit of submitting an Inland sponsorship application is that the spouse or partner may be eligible for an open work permit, which will allow them to work full-time in Canada while their application for permanent residence is being processed.

Having an Open Work Permit (OWP) can help reduce the economic and emotional burden of a potentially lengthy application process, as well as allow your spouse or partner to be professionally active and enter the Canadian labour market.

It is generally expected that Inland sponsorship applicants will remain in Canada while their application is being processed. If the spouse or common-law partner does not plan to stay in Canada or needs to be able travel outside the country while the application is being processed, Outland sponsorship may be a better option.


Who can apply under Inland sponsorship? 

To be eligible to sponsor a loved one under the Inland application category, you will need to meet these specific conditions:

  • your spouse or partner needs to live with you in Canada; and
  • your spouse or partner needs to have temporary resident status in Canada.

There are also several basic requirements for immigration to Canada that the sponsor and the sponsored person will also have to meet to be eligible for Inland sponsorship:

  • the sponsor must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident in Canada;
  • both the sponsor and sponsored person must be at least 18 years of age;
  • the relationship between the sponsor and the sponsored person must be one of the following:
    • spouse: you are legally married, and your marriage is valid under the law of the jurisdiction where it was registered and under Canadian law;
    • common-law: you are cohabiting or have cohabited with your partner in a marriage-like relationship for at least 12 consecutive months;
  • the sponsored person must not have been sponsored by their spouse in Canada in the five years preceding the submission of their application;
  • neither spouse must be in prison, charged with a serious offence or bankrupt.

Conjugal partnerships, i.e. relationships in which two people cannot live together or marry because of religious or marital status barriers, for example, are not eligible for Inland sponsorship. 


How does Inland sponsorship work? 

Inland sponsorship is a specific application process used to sponsor a loved one under Canada's Spouse or Common-Law Partner in Canada Class immigration program.

Inland sponsorship applications consist of the following two parts:

  • The Canadian citizen or permanent resident will have to apply to become a sponsor;
  • The foreign spouse or partner will have to apply for permanent residence.

The application submission process involves several steps, including:

  • verifying eligibility for both the sponsor and sponsored person;
  • paying required fees online;
  • collecting supporting documents;
  • completing the required forms and submitting them to the appropriate visa office.

It is generally expected that Inland sponsorship applicants will remain in Canada while their application is being processed. If the spouse or common-law partner does not plan to stay in Canada or needs to be able travel outside the country while the application is being processed, Outland sponsorship may be a better option.


What are the steps to apply for Inland sponsorship?

Applying to sponsor a foreign spouse or partner is a multi-step process. Here is an overview of the different application stages involved:

  • Step 1: Obtain the application package found on the government website; it includes a guide, with instructions and forms as well as a checklist that will help you complete the process correctly.
  • Step 2: Pay all required application fees online (application fees, right of permanent residence fees, biometric fees).
  • Step 3: Complete and sign all required forms.
  • Step 4: Send your application to the right visa office and mailing address in Canada by following the instructions provided in the guide you downloaded.
  • Step 5: While the application is under review, you may be asked to submit additional supporting documents.

The province of Quebec has its own immigration procedures and additional steps will have to be followed if you reside in that province.


How long does it take to process Inland applications? 

Current processing times for the approval of Inland spousal sponsorship applications are approximately 12 months.

In the past, Inland applications were known to take longer to process than Outland applications, but this is no longer the case today. IRCC is now harmonizing the processing times for Inland and Outland applications. 

The current COVID-19 pandemic could have an impact on the processing of spousal applications. IRCC is currently prioritizing applications from:

  • Canadians attempting to return to Canada;
  • Vulnerable persons;
  • Those who provide or support essential services.

    Where are Inland applications processed?

    Based on the sponsorship option you choose (Inland or Outland), you will need to use a specific mailing address in Canada to submit your spousal sponsorship application. You can refer to the guide that you can download from the IRCC website to find out which address is used to receive Inland sponsorship applications.

    Find out if you are eligible to sponsor your loved one!


    Frequently Asked Questions

    Each couple’s situation is unique and whether you choose Inland or Outland sponsorship will depend on many factors. Here is an overview of the differences between the two processes that may help you determine which one is right for you:

    Inland sponsorship:

    • Your partner or spouse will be eligible for an Open Work Permit;
    • You and your spouse need to reside together in Canada;
    • Your spouse should remain in Canada during the processing of the application;
    • If your application is refused you will not have the right to appeal that decision.

    Outland sponsorship:

    • Your partner, conjugal partner or spouse lives abroad;
    • You and your Canadian spouse or partner are living abroad but plan to return to live in Canada;
    • Your spouse will be able to enter and leave the country freely while the application is being processed;
    • If your application is refused you have the right to appeal that decision.

    The main advantage of applying under Inland sponsorship is that it will enable your spouse or partner to apply for an Open Work Permit.

    Open work permits are work permits that are not tied to a specific job or location in Canada. Contrary to other work permits, open work permits will not require a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from Employment and Social Development Canada, or proof of an offer of employment.

    Yes. A couple may be eligible under Inland and Outland sponsorship if they reside together in Canada.

    If the couple is physically present in Canada at the time the application is submitted, but the spouse or partner plans to travel abroad during the processing of the application, an Outland sponsorship application may be a more suitable option. Keep in mind that, Outland sponsorship will not allow your spouse or partner to benefit from an open work permit to work in Canada. If you determine that you are eligible for both sponsorship application categories, it is important you carefully consider and understand the many advantages and disadvantages of each of these two options.

    Open work permit processing times are approximately 4 to 5 months.

    The province of Quebec has its own immigration rules. And as a Quebec resident, you will have to meet additional eligibility requirements that are specific to that province in order to sponsor your loved one.

    Here are the steps of the sponsorship process for those living in the province of Quebec:

    • You will first have to meet the federal requirements to apply for a sponsorship first send your application to IRCC.
    • If you meet IRCC's eligibility requirements for sponsorship, you will receive an email or letter with instructions on how to download a Quebec sponsorship undertaking kit.
    • The next step will be to submit the Quebec Undertaking Kit with which you will need to include the letter or email you received from IRCC.
    • The Government of Quebec will then review your sponsorship application and let you know if you are eligible for sponsorship.
    • If Quebec accepts you as a sponsor, you will receive a Certificat de sĂ©lection du QuĂ©bec (CSQ or QuĂ©bec Selection Certificate).
    • Once Quebec delivers your CSQ, IRCC will be able to make a final decision on your application.

    If you wish to obtain an Open Work Permit (OWP) you should submit the application at the same time as you submit your application for permanent residence. You can also apply for an OWP after you have submitted your application for permanent residence. Different forms will need to be completed in each of these instances. You will find that information in the sponsorship guide available on the IRCC website.

    If your spouse or common-law partner already has a work permit, they can continue to work if the permit is valid. Keep in mind submitting an Inland sponsorship application does not absolve your spouse or partner from maintaining valid temporary status in Canada. In the event your spouse’s or partner’s temporary permit expired or is about to expire, they will need to apply for an extension or another permit to stay in Canada until they receive their PR status.

    No. You must wait to receive your work permit before you can start to work in Canada.

    As part of the sponsorship process, you will be required to sign an "undertaking", which is a promise to provide financial support for the basic needs (such as food, clothing, shelter and health care not covered by the Canadian health care system) of your spouse or partner and their dependent children.

    This undertaking, or promise of support, is mandatory and cannot be cancelled, which means that it is your responsibility to support your spouse or partner for the duration of the undertaking, even if your situation changes.

    The duration of the undertaking, in all Canadian provinces except Quebec, is 3 years from the day your spouse, common-law or conjugal partner becomes a permanent resident. The length of the undertaking for Quebec residents differs from the length of the undertaking for the rest of Canada.

    You will not be prevented from leaving Canada if you apply for sponsorship under the Inland category. However, it is strongly recommended that Inland sponsorship applicants remain in Canada while their application is being processed. If the sponsored person leaves Canada at any time during the processing of the application, there is no guarantee that they will be allowed to re-enter Canada, especially if they require a visitor visa. Leaving Canada may also cause the immigration officer assessing your application to have doubts about your intentions with respect to immigration and may ultimately result in your application being refused.

    Canada has a public policy that covers spouses and common-law partners, provided they meet a number of conditions (including a sponsorship undertaking by their Canadian spouse or common-law partner), who may be assessed for permanent residence even if they do not have legal immigration status in Canada.

    It is generally expected, however, that any situation that may result in the inadmissibility of your spouse or partner to Canada will be resolved prior to the submission of the sponsorship application.

    If a sponsored person’s application is refused, they are required to leave Canada immediately at the end of their temporary stay period.

    Additionally, if the sponsored person leaves Canada at any point while the application is being processed, there is no guarantee that they will be allowed to re-enter Canada, especially if they require a visitor visa.

    In recent years, Canada has improved and modernized the procedures related to spousal sponsorships. Recently, IRCC has reasserted its commitment to family reunification by allocating additional funds to make processing of applications more efficient and to help speed up processing times. IRCC has also taken steps to approve more Canadian sponsorship applications to help reduce backlogs. Between now and 2023, Canada aims to welcome over 60,000 applicants each year through spousal sponsorships.

    Contact us for Assistance

    Campbell Cohen is one of Canada's leading immigration law firms. Campbell Cohen has over 45 years of experience and features a team of over 60 Canadian immigration attorneys, paralegals, and other dedicated professionals.

    Campbell Cohen uses its dedication and expertise to bring families together in Canada. We provide professional legal services in areas such as sponsoring spouses, partners, children, parents and grandparents, as well as the Super Visa.

    Please connect with us so we can support your family sponsorship needs:

    Find out if you are eligible to sponsor your loved one!