Marrying a Canadian Citizen or Permanent Resident - Immigration Aspects

Canada has a relatively strict set of laws when it comes to immigration. However if you are in a serious relationship with a Canadian citizen or permanent citizen, you have a strong chance of being allowed into the country to be with the one you love. But before you start packing, it may be wise to go through laws and applications processes of spousal immigration to Canada.

Eligibility conditions

In Canada, all applications for immigration are supervised and processed by the government department known as CIC or Citizenship and Immigration Canada. In order to be eligible for immigrating to Canada on the basis of marrying a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, you will first have to see whether you qualify as a spouse. Citizenship and Immigration Canada classifies a spouse as a marriage partner aged at least sixteen years who has legally married a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.

If you and your Canadian partner have got married in your home country or somewhere else other than Canada, then for your marriage to be accepted in Canada, it has to be legally accepted by the civil powers in the country where the marriage took place. Merely having a wedding ceremony – whether according to your own culture or elsewhere - does not signify an officially authorized marriage if it has not been registered correctly with the civil authorities in the country where the marriage took place. Under Canadian law, only a valid Marriage Certificate can confirm that your international marriage is legal in Canada.

Even if you are not yet married to your Canadian partner or you both are in a common law or conjugal relationship, you are eligible of being immigrating to Canada under spousal sponsorship, as long as you have enough Proof of a genuine relationship both ways. This includes letters, postmarked envelopes, copies of emails and of records of online conversations, greeting cards, photos, copy of plane tickets and boarding passes, passports with entry and exit stamps from the country where you or your Canadian partner resides, money transfers and phone bills but not pre-paid cards.

The immigration process

The process of spousal sponsorship for permanent residence in Canada has two different aspects. The first is where the spousal sponsor submits a sponsorship application to Citizenship & Immigration Canada on behalf of his or her foreign spouse who lives abroad for residing in Canada. In other words, your Canadian partner will have to apply to sponsor your arrival and residence to Canada with the CIC. But he or she can do only if he/she intends to marry you and you intend to live in Canada with him/her. Alternatively he/she can also apply, if you are a common-law partner or have been cohabiting together for at least one year. Above all he/she also has to be single and free to marry you, of eighteen years of age at least and of course, a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada, living in Canada. Other than this, he/she needs to attest that he/she is not on any social assistance program, not in default of any previous sponsorship, not bankrupt and not in prison.

The second part of the immigration process has to do with you as the foreign spouse residing abroad completing an application for permanent residence in Canada. This in turn will require its own set of documents, forms and attestations all of which you can download from the Canadian government immigration site1 or have your Canadian partner send them over to you. Apart from application for permanent residence, you will also need to fill out the forms specific to your region. After you have filled out all the sponsorship, immigration and region specific forms, you need to send them to you Canadian partner with the supporting documents to be processed at CIC.

Getting married in Canada

If you wish, you can also get married in Canada but to do this you will have to come to Canada legally. Canada offers many temporary resident visas. Some are study, work, or visit visas. As long as you are approved for stay, you may marry in Canada. However before you set out, make sure you have all documents necessary to be able to get married in Canada. Also keep in mind that just because you can get married in Canada does not mean that you are legally allowed to stay on. You will still have to submit an application for legal immigration and your partner will have to apply for spousal sponsorship.

Where to submit your application?

You can submit your application for immigration both from within and outside Canada. In case of the latter, both you and your spouse must be present in Canada. However if you apply from within Canada, you may not appeal any negative decisions made on your case by Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Their decision would be final and you would have to leave Canada as soon as your temporary visa expires.

If your Canadian partner applied from outside of Canada and it was rejected, he/she may appeal the decision. If the appeal is accepted, CIC will process your file again. You may also reapply if you have new information that will strengthen your case or you have overcome the reasons of why your application was refused the first time. If you applied from within Canada,
The final stage of the immigration process would be the granting of permanent residence to you. You would have to live in Canada for three out of four years in order to qualify for Canadian citizenship. Once the residency requirement is complete, you will be eligible to apply for the right of citizenship. Once your application is approved, you will be called for a citizenship test. You not need to write the test if they are over the age of 55. This is a test of your language abilities and knowledge of Canada. Upon passing the citizenship test, you would be invited to attend an oath of citizenship ceremony in which you would be given their citizenship certificate.


  1. Citizenship and Immigration Canada - Application to Sponsor a Member of the Family Class