CIC’s Latest Updates to Spousal Sponsorships & Eligibility of Spouses, Common-law or Conjugal Partners in Temporary and permanent immigration programs

Change to minimum age of eligibility of spouses, common-law or conjugal partners in temporary and permanent immigration programs

Effective June 10, 2015, the minimum age of eligibility at the time of application of a spouse, common-law or conjugal partner, in all temporary and permanent resident programs has been raised from sixteen (16) to eighteen (18) years.

Under the new regulations, a person shall not be considered a spouse or common law partner if they are under the age of 18. They will also not be considered a member of the family class, spouse or common-law partner class if they are the sponsor’s spouse and are under the age of eighteen (18). Therefore spouses/partners whose applications are received by CIC when they are under the age of eighteen (18) are not eligible to be sponsored for permanent residence or to apply for temporary status as the accompanying spouse of a high skilled worker or student.

Foreign nationals who were married when they were under the age of eighteen (18) but who are over the age of eighteen (18) at the time the application is received by CIC are eligible to be processed as spouses, common-law partners or conjugal partners, as long as their marriage is valid both under the laws of the jurisdiction where they were married and under Canadian law.

Foreign nationals who are under the age of eighteen (18) and married, may still be sponsored by their parents as a dependent child, despite the regulation stating that persons who are under nineteen (19) and are a spouse or common-law partner are excluded from being a dependent child.

These changes will apply to all sponsorship applications received after June 10, 2015.


Proxy, telephone, fax, internet or similar marriage forms where one or both parties not physically present at the time of marriage are no longer eligible to immigrate as spouses

Effective June 11, 2015, proxy, telephone, fax, or internet marriages, wherein one or both of the participants are not physically present at the same location at the time of the wedding ceremony, are “excluded relationships.” Under the new regulations, both spouses must be physically present at the wedding ceremony for the couple to be considered “spouses,” “common-law partners” or “members of the family class” under Canadian immigration law. These rules do not apply to people who were not able to be present owing to their membership in the Canadian Forces, and where the marriage is valid both under the laws of the jurisdiction where it took place and under Canadian law.


Five-year Sponsorship Bar for persons who were sponsored to come to Canada as a spouse or partner

Spousal sponsorship entails an undertaking of financial responsibility for a spouse or common-law partner and their dependents for a period of 3 years. If the relationship ends, the sponsor remains financially responsible for their partner until the end of the 3-year undertaking. The reason for the termination of the relationship does not effect the undertaking or financial responsibility.

Sponsors are also not permitted to sponsor a subsequent spouse or partner for the duration of the undertaking.

A person who was themselves sponsored as a spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner is also subject to a bar on sponsorship. Persons who were themselves sponsored, are not permitted to sponsor a new spouse, common-law or conjugal partner unless they have been a permanent resident or a Canadian citizen or a combination of the two, for a period of at least 5 years from the time the application for their original sponsorship was filed. For example, if their previous spouse submitted an application to sponsor them and they were approved on January 1, 2015, they would not be able to apply to sponsor someone else until, they have been a permanent resident for 5 years or a Canadian citizen for at least 1 year.