Canada Makes Travel Exemptions for Spouses of Canadian Citizens and Permanent Residents

While the COVID-19 pandemic has left the world in a state of uncertainty, Canadian citizens or permanent residents looking to sponsor a spouse will not have to worry about putting their plans on hold.

The federal government recently announced that Canada would continue to both accept and process spousal and common-law sponsorship applications for partners living in Canada or abroad. This means that even spouses or common-law partners living outside of Canada will be able to have their sponsorship files processed, despite the strict border restrictions put in place by the federal government.

But that is not all. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has made additional rule changes to help accommodate sponsorship applicants during this pandemic. This includes:

Acceptance of Incomplete Applications

As previously mentioned, the IRCC will continue to accept and process new applications for spousal sponsorship and permanent residence, however, they have also announced that incomplete applications will be accepted during this pandemic.

This means that applicants that are unable to obtain certain documents due to service disruptions will still be able to submit an application. However, applicants that do not have all the required documentation will be required to provide a detailed letter that explains the lack of documentation due to COVID-19 related delays.

If applications are incomplete upon submission, they will be kept and reviewed in 90 days. If the application is still incomplete after 60 days, an IRCC will request that you submit the missing documents within 90 days.

Accepting Applications from Those Collecting Social Assistance

When applying for spousal sponsorship, Canadian spouses or partners that have received social assistance are often deemed ineligible. Some examples of social assistance that would have previously rendered you ineligible include:

  • Subsidized housing
  • Tax credits
  • Child care subsidies

However, the IRCC has changed this policy and will still allow applications in cases where social assistance is used.

Exemptions from Travel Restrictions

Back in March, the federal government closed its borders to non-Canadian citizens to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, exceptions were made for immediate family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents.

And because both spouses and common-law partners are considered immediate family, they will still be able to enter Canada from abroad as long as they identify themselves to the airlines and provide supporting documentation stating the identity of and relation to their immediate family members. Such documentation includes:

  • Marriage certificate or evidence of common law status
  • Passport or Permanent Resident Card
  • Birth Certificate

However, before boarding a flight to Canada, you must obtain a valid visitor’s visa along with written authorization from the Canadian government in order to enter Canada. Requesting this authorization can be done one of two ways:

  1. Emailing the IRCC at [email protected]
  2. Contacting the nearest Government of Canada office abroad

When requesting authorization to travel to Canada, you will need to provide your:

  • Full name
  • Date of birth
  • Unique client identifier (UCI)
  • Passport number
  • Detailed reason for travel
  • Proof of relationship with an immediate family member in Canada
  • Proof of immigration status of your immediate family member in Canada
  • Proof of temporary resident Visa or ETA

If you are the spouse or common-law partner of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident hoping to reunite with your loved one during this time of uncertainty, rest assured that steps are being taken to ensure spousal sponsorship applications are not affected by this pandemic.