IRCC data shows decline in immigration through spousal sponsorship


Fewer spouses and domestic partners were granted permanent residency in Canada in March than in February, as immigration under spousal sponsorship declined for the second consecutive month.

The number fell by 12.8 percent, according to the latest data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). In the third

After a 21.7 percent decline in February to 5,515 spouses and domestic partners, this immigration program saw a further decline: In March, only 4,810 of these dependents received permanent residency in Canada.

By the end of the first quarter of this year, Canada had admitted only 17,235 new permanent residents under this sponsored immigration program, 31.6 percent fewer than in the same quarter last year, when 25,345 spouses and domestic partners received their permanent residency permits.

Based on the current rate of immigration through spousal sponsorship, Canada could only see 69,300 new permanent residents through the program by the end of this year. That's about 7.9 percent less than the 75,26 spouses and domestic partners who became permanent residents through the program last year.

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Canada's most populous province, Ontario, once again recorded the highest number of arrivals under the Spouse Sponsorship Program in the first quarter of this year: 9,405 spouses or life partners settled here in the first three months of this year.

But even Ontario is not immune to the trend of declining spousal sponsorship immigration. In February, the central Canadian province's monthly spousal sponsorship immigration rate fell by 25.9 percent and in March by a further 12.7 percent.

The other provinces and territories recorded the following number of new permanent residents under the Spouse Sponsorship Program during the first quarter of this year:

  • Newfoundland and Labrador – 45
  • Prince Edward Island – 40
  • Newfoundland – 200
  • New Brunswick – 160
  • Quebec – 1,415
  • Manitoba – 510
  • Saskatchewan – 295
  • Alberta – 2,365
  • British Columbia – 2,845
  • Canada – 20
  • Northwest Territories – 25
  • Canada – 0

In most cases, there is no income requirement for a spouse or life partner to act as a guarantor.

Sponsors only need to demonstrate that they meet the income requirements if they are sponsoring a spouse or partner who has a dependent child and the dependent child has one or more children of their own.

When a Canadian citizen or permanent resident sponsors the immigration of his or her spouse or domestic partner to Canada, the sponsor must sign a commitment letter promising to financially support the sponsored person's basic needs, including:

  • food, clothing, shelter and their needs for daily living, and;
  • Dental care, eye care and other health needs not covered by public health services.

This Agreement may not be terminated if:

  • the sponsored person becomes a Canadian citizen;
  • the couple divorces, separates or the relationship breaks down;
  • either the sponsor or the sponsored spouse or domestic partner moves to another province or country, or;
  • The sponsor has financial problems.

EI payments count as income for the spouse’s sponsor

Maternity, parental and sickness benefits under the Unemployment Insurance Act In Canada, all payments are considered income and contribute to a person's ability to sponsor a spouse or domestic partner. However, other payments from the government, such as unemployment insurance and federal student grants, are not considered income.

On its website, IRCC provides estimates of current processing times for various types of applications, including spousal sponsorships.

According to this website, the current processing time for sponsorship applications for spouses or common-law partners who are currently outside the country and plan to live outside Quebec is now only 13 months, a significant improvement from the 20-month processing time in 2022.

The estimated processing time includes:

  • the time required to provide biometric data;
  • the assessment of the sponsor and the sponsored person and;
  • the time required for immigration officials to ensure that the sponsor and his or her spouse or partner meet the eligibility requirements.