June 24, 2015

Financial Considerations in Spousal Sponsorships – What You Need to Know!

Posted by Legal Team - Bellissimo Law Group PC

Technically speaking, there is no set income requirement to sponsor a spouse, common law, or conjugal partner to Canada. In contrast, while Canadian citizens or permanent residents seeking to sponsor parents or grandparents must meet what is called Minimum Necessary Income, the same does not hold true for spouses or partners. That said, it is important to be aware of the financial considerations which do come into play in trying to sponsor a spouse or partner.

Section 133 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations sets out the requirements for a sponsor. If you do not meet these requirements, you will not be determined eligible to sponsor a family member’s application for permanent residence. Subsection 133(1)(k) confirms that a sponsor cannot be in receipt of social assistance for reason other than disability from the day on which the application was filed until the day on which a decision is made. This means that in the Ontario context, being in receipt of Ontario Disability Support Program (OSPD) assistance is permissible, but being in receipt of other social assistance not related to a disability will render you ineligible to sponsor.

Subsection 133(1)(g) adds another complication. This provision says that a sponsor cannot be in default of any sponsorship undertaking, or any support payment obligations ordered by a court from the day on which the application was filed until the day on which a decision is made. Here is where disability assistance can still be relevant in the context of multiple sponsorships.

Imagine that you are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident with a son born outside of Canada. You successfully sponsor your minor son to Canada, but then you develop a medical condition rendering you unable to work. Imagine that you apply for ODSP and begin collecting payments. A few years later, you develop a relationship with a foreign national, and eventually you marry and also want to sponsor your new husband to Canada. When you try to sponsor your new husband, you run into problems. While it was permissible for you to collect ODSP and still sponsor your husband (under subsection 133(1)(g)), it is not permissible that your son collect ODSP as your dependent.  This is because when you first sponsored your son, you entered into an undertaking with Citizenship and Immigration Canada that you would be financially responsible for your son for a ten year period and that he would not receive any government assistance. Because your son received ODSP as your dependent, this means you have defaulted on a previous undertaking, which is contrary to subsection 133(1)(k)(i)).

The good news is that if your overseas spousal sponsorship application is refused on the basis of either 133(1)(g) or 133(1)(k), this can still be overcome by arguing humanitarian and compassionate factors at the Immigration Appeal Division.

There is also the issue of Financial Inadmissibility under section 39 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. This provision states:

A foreign national is inadmissible for financial reasons if they are or will be unable or unwilling to support themself or any other person who is dependent on them, and have not satisfied an officer that adequate arrangements for care and support, other than those that involve social assistance, have been made.

Section 39 may be used against a spouse applying for permanent residence when their sponsor is on social assistance for disability and is therefore not caught by subsection 133(1)(k) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.

Although technically no set income is required to sponsor your spouse or partner, it is very important to be mindful of other financial roadblocks which can impact the outcome of your application.

For more information on Spousal Sponsorship, please click here.

If you require assistance or more information on any of these issues, please contact us!