Many Canadian citizens marry a foreign fiancee in Canada even though they are not legally resident there. Prior to 2005, it was against the law to sponsor your foreign spouse if he/she was illegally resident in Canada. A change to public policy on illegal immigrants who were legally married to Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada now allows the spouse to be sponsored regardless of their immigration status.
If your husband or wife lives illegally in Canada, he/she must correct the problems with their illegal status before you apply to sponsor him/her. The first step is to apply for a temporary residence permit. The application is available from Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Once completed it should be mailed along with proof of fee payment and supporting documents to the Case Processing Centre (CPC) in Vegreville, Alberta.
If temporary residence is denied, your spouse can apply for consideration on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. Once temporary residence has been granted, you can apply for sponsorship for your spouse by submitting a sponsorship application to Citizenship and Immigration Canada; your spouse must submit an application for permanent residence. Your spouse’s previous immigration violation will be overlooked, however if your husband or wife is deemed inadmissible to Canada their application will be refused and they will not be able to appeal against the decision. Inadmissibility will result in your partner being deported.
If your spouse falls under any of the following categories he/she will be deemed inadmissible to Canada:
- Convicted of human rights violations
- Seen as a threat to Canada’s security
- Has a serious criminal record for which they received a jail sentence of at least 10 years
- Have an inadmissible family member
- Involved in organized crime
- Health threat to the Canadian population
If your spouse leaves Canada before his/her permanent residence visa and sponsorship agreement is granted he/she may not be granted entry back into Canada. In this case, your spouse will have to reapply for Canada permanent residence from the country they reside in. This process can take up to a year and sometimes longer.