Canadian spousal sponsorship: why hire a lawyer?

Canadian citizens and permanent residents may help their foreign spouses and partners relocate to Canada by acting as sponsors on their immigration applications. Sponsoring your spouse is a two-step process: first, the Canadian resident applies to be approved as a sponsor by the immigration authorities. Then, their spouse or partner files for permanent resident status on the basis of receiving sponsorship.

Usually, the process does not involve an interview: the sponsor-applicant will have to provide the authorities with a convincing written application complete with all of the expected paperwork that supports their case.

Do you need an immigration lawyer for spousal sponsorship approval?

Spousal sponsor applications take a while to process: Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will usually take from 9 to 13 months to review your paperwork. Lengthy processing times and the high cost of errors mean that it is extremely important to have it done correctly. Working with an immigration lawyer will help you come up with a strong case that will have a bigger chance of convincing the IRCC that your relationship is in fact genuine.

The goal is to end up with a strong file that will set itself apart from the hundreds of fraudulent applications that the IRCC receives every day. Additionally, getting professional assistance with your application will guarantee that it is thorough and complete thus improving your chances for success: incomplete applications are returned to the sender by the IRCC.

How working with a lawyer can help your spousal sponsorship application succeed

One of the most prevalent grounds for sponsorship application refusal is what the IRCC refers to as bad faith or not genuine marriage. Actual long-term partnerships can get flagged as sham marriages without proper evidence or lawyer representation.

A good example of this is the 2019 case of Basanti v. Canada. Mr. Basanti has been a Canadian citizen since 1994 and had sponsored his first wife in her immigration from India in 1996. After the couple split up in 1998, Mr. Basanti met his current wife through an ad for a spouse in an Indian newspaper.

The couple got married in India within a month of their initial meeting. After several months, Mr. Basanti moved back to Canada and filed his first application for sponsorship. The application was rejected by the Immigration Appeal Division (IAD) in 2001, with the IAD noting that the marriage was entered into primarily for immigration purposes. Furthermore, the couple testified to not planning to live together after Mrs. Basanti’s arrival in Canada.

Over the following 20 years, Mr. Basanti has unsuccessfully filed for sponsorship four more times. All refusals were contested and turned down by the IAD. The fifth and final application was refused in 2014 and taken to Federal Court in 2018.

Working with an immigration lawyer in the initial stages of filing the spousal support application would have yielded much better results. A better thought-out filing timeline, a more thorough job of collecting evidence, and proper legal advice on how to word your testimony might just have saved Mr. Basanti’s case.

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Appealing spousal sponsorship refusal with an immigration lawyer

Getting a refusal from the authorities is very unpleasant and stressful for both parties involved. Don’t despair: a sponsorship application refusal can be contested with the IAD within a month of the original decision. With the IAD immigration appeal process being as time-consuming and costly as it is, working with a lawyer will guarantee that your case will be handled and represented in the best possible light.

There are three main grounds on which a refusal can be appealed. These include:

  • the IRCC’s initial decision was wrong in law or in fact;
  • there has been a breach of procedural justice;
  • humanitarian considerations were not taken into account when requested.

Submitting an application for appeal requires two documents:

  • A completed and signed Notice of appeal;
  • A copy of the IRCC rejection letter.

Your lawyer has to be elected as your representative on the Notice of Appeal. After receiving your notice, the IAD will review your file and record and take any of the following actions:

  1. Request further evidence. This information can be provided by you or by your immigration consultant.
  2. Schedule an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). The ADR is an informal meeting between the applicant and representatives of the IAD, IRCC, and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). Any additional evidence or clarification of your initial statements can and should be provided during this meeting.
  3. Schedule a sponsorship appeal hearing. This will require working with a lawyer in order to prepare an appeal letter, submissions, statements, witness testimonies, and translations. All paperwork must be sent to the IAD no less than 20 days before the hearing.

If none of this proves successful, your appeal can be brought to the Canadian Federal Court for further adjudication.

Contact an immigration specialist for assistance with your application or appeal

If you're faced with filing a spousal sponsorship application or the need to contest a sponsorship refusal, contact an immigration lawyer in order to make sure that your paperwork is filed accurately and within the required timeframe. An experienced professional with an understanding of the inner workings of both the IRCC and the IAD will help you and your spouse achieve the goal of living together in Canada.

Want to discuss your case?


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