March 5, 2024

Navigating Spousal Sponsorship in Canada: A Guide for Previously Divorced Individuals

Posted by Alexandra Goncharova - Bellissimo Law Group PC

Previous marriage and divorce may affect spousal sponsorship to Canada, depending on whether you are the sponsor or the sponsored person. Generally, if you were previously married and then divorced, you must disclose your previous relationship to IRCC and provide a certificate of divorce, a mandatory document required in spousal sponsorship applications for those who were previously legally married.

A few years ago, Canadian immigration authorities removed the requirement for sponsored spouses to reside with their sponsor for a mandatory minimum period of time. Therefore, if your marriage falls apart after you sponsor your spouse to Canada, there is no requirement to update IRCC on the status of your relationship after your sponsorship application has been finalized. However, it is important to remember that the sponsor remains financially responsible for their sponsored spouse for the period of the sponsorship undertaking, which currently lasts 3 years after the sponsored individual becomes a permanent resident, even if the relationship ends in separation or divorce. Practically, this means that if your sponsored spouse receives social assistance within 3 years of landing, you, as the sponsor, would be required to reimburse the government for the amount of social assistance received.

If you are the spouse being sponsored and you separate or divorce from your sponsor while the sponsorship application is in process, you must inform IRCC of the change in marital status. Failure to do so may result in misrepresentation allegations being raised, and if established, could make you inadmissible to Canada. It is important to note that IRCC investigates and takes marriage fraud seriously. If a marriage of convenience is suspected, it may result in the sponsorship application being refused or, if the sponsored spouse has already become a permanent resident, they may lose their permanent resident status in Canada.

If you have sponsored someone to Canada in the past, the relationship resulted in divorce, and you have married a new spouse, you can sponsor your new spouse to Canada. However, you may be barred from doing so if your previous sponsored spouse received social assistance during the undertaking period and you haven’t repaid this debt.

However, if you were sponsored to Canada, divorced from your spouse, and then married someone else whom you would like to sponsor to Canada, you cannot do so during the 5-year period after you became a permanent resident of Canada.

Therefore, if you are the sponsor or the sponsored individual, and your relationship with your spouse falls apart, it is always advisable to consult with a legal professional on the steps you may be required to take and the possible consequences you may face from the Canadian immigration perspective.