Canada strictly believes in family reunification and prioritizes spousal sponsorship for this exact reason. Unfortunately, not all spousal sponsorships end in family reunification and some can lead to separation or divorce. Although this may not happen often, it is important to discuss this as there are individuals who may be experiencing this and may not know what to do in these circumstances. Therefore, in this article, I will explain the repercussions of cases of separation or divorce in spousal sponsorships and important information to know if you are experiencing this in your life.
First and foremost, it is important to note that separation and/or divorce happens. Some relationships whether marriage or common-law partnerships, don’t work out and result in the termination of the relationship. However, if you were sponsored to Canada by a spouse, this can be a confusing and conflicting time for any sponsored person. Specifically, what happens when a sponsored spouse separates or divorces their sponsored spouse, results in the continuous undertaking for the sponsor for a minimum of three years after the sponsored spouse becomes a permanent resident. This undertaking continues even if the couple has separated or divorced. The sponsor must be responsible for the sponsored spouse’s basic needs throughout the duration of the undertaking.
If you and your spouse become separated and/or divorced and your spousal sponsorship application is processing, you may withdraw the application. To do so, you may use Immigration’s Web form to submit the withdrawal. In the withdrawal, you must include details of your name; your birthdate; your contact information, such as address; the date the application was submitted; your UCI (unique client identifier) number; the type of application, which would be a spousal sponsorship; and lastly, the reason for the withdrawal. When submitting your withdrawal through the Web form, it is essential to include the electronic payment receipt of your government fees.
However, if your application is already processed and the sponsored spouse receives permanent residency in Canada before Immigration can withdraw your application, then the application cannot be cancelled unfortunately. Additionally, if they become a permanent resident, then both individuals in the relationship must respect the sponsorship conditions and requirements, such as the length of undertaking as aforementioned.
The length of the undertaking for a spousal sponsorship is a minimum of 3 years. In other words, you are financially responsible for your sponsored spouse for at least 3 years from the date that they receive their permanent residency. This length of undertaking applies for spousal, common-law and/or conjugal sponsorships. Additionally, it is important to recognize that you are financially responsible for the sponsored spouse even if you are separated or divorced; if they gain citizenship in Canada; if your financial circumstances change for the worse, for instance loss of employment; and, if you send a request to withdraw the application after the sponsored spouse has gained permanent residency.
Many spouses and partners have children together and when separation or divorce comes into the picture this can be a very troubling and wry time for the couple as well as the children. Thankfully, the Canadian sponsor does not have the right to keep children away from the sponsored spouse. In addition, the Canadian sponsor still has the obligation to care for their children regardless of their status of marriage. This is specifically called child support or maintenance. Similarly, depending on the sponsored spouse’s financial situation, they may also be obligated to give the sponsored spouse support payments; this is called spousal support.
Sometimes separation and divorce can end badly and there might be tension between the two individuals. There may even be threats made by the Canadian sponsor that the sponsored spouse has to leave Canada if they separate or divorce. Please remember that this is not the case. As previously mentioned, the sponsor is responsible for the sponsored spouse for a minimum of 3 years from the moment the sponsored spouse gains permanent residency. Therefore, it is very important to recognize that these threats are not warranted or supported by legal facts. In fact, only Canadian immigration authorities have the right to order a person to leave Canada.
Additionally, as of April 28 of 2017, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has announced that the conditional permanent residency for sponsored spouses will no longer be in effect. The reasoning behind the abolishment of the conditional permanent residency is because of vulnerable sponsored spouses and partners who may be suffering from abuse or dangerous relationships with their Canadian sponsor. Although there was already an exception to the conditional permanent residency with regards to abuse, there are many cases where sponsored spouses and partners feel scared and helpless in these specific cases.
The abolishment of the conditional permanent residency is extremely beneficial for spouses and partners who are suffering from abuse, but also for spouses and partners who would like to separate or divorce their Canadian spouse for other reasons as well. The Canadian government believes in human rights for their permanent residents and Canadian citizens and therefore extends the right to feel safe and protected in Canada to sponsored spouses who have gained permanent residency.
If you are currently going through a separation or divorce with your sponsored spouse or Canadian spouse, it is important to take all of the aforementioned information into consideration. If you need to withdraw your spousal sponsorship, this may be difficult to pursue on your own, especially if you are unfamiliar. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you seek out professional and experienced help before attempting to withdraw your application. Here, at Akrami & Associates, we work and have experience with many different immigration issues. We have helped many of our clients through these specific circumstances. If you believe that you need assistance with this matter, please feel free to contact Akrami & Associates at our office at 416-477-2545 for more information or if you would like to book a consultation with an immigration professional for more advice.
With Akrami & Associates, there is always a way!