Outland Spousal and Common-Law Partner Sponsorship

Last updated: 4 August 2021

Outland Sponsorship 1

Outland sponsorship allows Canadians and permanent residents to sponsor their spouse or common-law partner for permanent residence in Canada, regardless of where they live in the world.

This Canadavisa page will help you determine if this sponsorship process is right for you so you have the best chance of achieving your immigration goals in Canada.

Table of Contents


What is Outland sponsorship?

Outland sponsorship allows foreign nationals residing abroad to be sponsored by their Canadian spouse or partner for permanent resident (PR) status in Canada. The Outland sponsorship process differs from the Inland spousal sponsorship, which requires the couple to live together in Canada.

Outland sponsorship may be the best option for you if you are unable to apply for spousal sponsorship from inside Canada. In other words, if your loved one is not living legally in Canada at the time of application, Outland sponsorship is likely the only option available to you.

Applicants residing in Canada may also opt for the Outland sponsorship process. It allows for travel to and from Canada while the application process is underway and may be the best option for those whose work or personal situation requires them to be able to enter and leave the country.

In order for the sponsored person to receive a Canadian PR visa through Outland sponsorship, both the Canadian citizen or permanent resident and the foreign national will need to be approved by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).


Who can apply under Outland sponsorship?

To be eligible to sponsor a loved one under the Outland application category, both the sponsor and sponsored person will have to meet a number of specific requirements, including:

  • the sponsor must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident;
  • both the sponsor and sponsored person must be at least 18 years of age;
  • the relationship between the sponsor and the sponsored person must be one of the following:
    • spouse: you are legally married and your marriage is valid under the law of the jurisdiction where it was registered and under Canadian law;
    • common-law : you are cohabiting or have cohabited with your partner in a marriage-like relationship for at least 12 consecutive months;
    • conjugal partnership *: you have been in an ongoing and committed relationship for a period of at least 12 months but, due to significant legal constraints or other factors beyond your control, such as an immigration barrier or marital status, you cannot live together;
  • the sponsor must not have sponsored a spouse in Canada in the five years preceding the submission of their application;
  • neither spouse must be in prison, charged with a serious offence or bankrupt;

* If you are in a conjugal relationship, you will need to submit an Outland sponsorship application as this type of relationship is not eligible under Inland sponsorship. 


How does Outland sponsorship work? 

Outland sponsorship is a specific application process used to sponsor a loved one under Canada's Family Class immigration program.

The process involves several steps, including verifying eligibility, collecting supporting documents, completing the required forms and submitting them to the appropriate visa office. The Canadian citizen or permanent resident will have to apply to become a sponsor, while the foreign spouse or partner will have to apply for permanent residence.


What are the steps to submit an Outland sponsorship application?

Applying to sponsor a foreign spouse or partner is a multi-step process: 

  • Step 1: Obtain the application package found on the government website; it includes a guide with instructions and forms that will help you complete the process correctly.
  • Step 2: Pay all required application fees online.
  • Step 3: Complete and sign all required forms. Be sure to check whether additional country-specific forms are required depending on your spouse or partner's country of residence.
  • Step 4: Send your application to the right visa office and mailing address in Canada by following the instructions provided in the guide you downloaded.

The province of Quebec has its own immigration procedures and additional steps will have to be if you intend to settle in that province.


How long does it take to process Outland applications?

IRCC's targeted processing period for spousal sponsorships is approximately 12 months. This estimated processing time includes the time needed to provide biometrics and to review the sponsorship application and eligibility requirements of both the sponsor and person being sponsored.

Once the application has been submitted, you will receive an acknowledgement of receipt from IRCC. Next, IRCC will assess the sponsor's eligibility, which takes approximately 4 months. The final step will be the evaluation of the sponsored person's application for permanent residence, which may take approximately 6 months.

The current COVID-19 pandemic could have an impact on the processing of spousal applications. IRCC is currently prioritizing applications from:

  • Canadians attempting to return to Canada;
  • Vulnerable persons;
  • Those who provide or support essential services.

    Where are Outland applications processed?

    Unlike application submitted under the Inland spousal sponsorship category, applications submitted outside of Canada are processed by the visa office serving the spouse’s or partner’s country of origin or, alternatively, the country in which they have resided legally for at least one year.

    Find out if you are eligible to sponsor your loved one!


    Frequently Asked Questions

    The main difference between these two types of applications processes is that Outland sponsorship applications are generally submitted from abroad and are for partners and spouses who reside in a country other than Canada. Outland sponsorship applications are typically processed by the visa office in the foreign national's home country. In some instances, Outland applications may be submitted from within Canada.

    The Inland sponsorship application process, on the other hand, requires the couple to reside together in Canada.

    Sponsorship application forms and supporting documents will vary depending on whether you make an Outland or Inland spousal sponsorship application.

    While both options offer foreign nationals a possible way to join their loved one in Canada, each has advantages and disadvantages that you should consider before submitting an application.

    • Inland sponsorship is an option for couples if the sponsored person is already in the country. The main advantage of submitting an Inland sponsorship application is that it allows the sponsored spouse to become eligible for an open work permit, enabling them to work while awaiting approval of the sponsorship and permanent residence status. During this transition phase from a visitor permit to an open work permit, it is recommended that applicants not leave Canada. That process generally takes approximately 4 months.
    • Outland sponsorship is generally an option pursued by couples when the sponsored partner is living outside of Canada. However, Outland applicants can still be in Canada and choose to apply through the Outland program, which will allow them to travel in and out of Canada throughout the application process.

    You will be able to enter and leave the country as a visitor while the application is in process. A valid visitor's visa may be required from some countries.

    It is however important to note that having a valid visitor visa alone does not guarantee entry into Canada. While your sponsorship application is pending, you will be treated as a regular foreign visitor. Canadian immigration officials can refuse to let you into Canada if they deem it necessary.

    The province of Quebec has its own immigration rules. And as a Quebec resident, you will have to meet additional eligibility requirements that are specific to that province in order to sponsor your loved one.

    Here are the steps of the sponsorship process for those living in the province of Quebec:

    • You will first have to meet the federal requirements to apply for a sponsorship first send your application to IRCC.
    • If you meet IRCC's eligibility requirements for sponsorship, you will receive an email or letter with instructions on how to download a Quebec sponsorship undertaking kit.
    • The next step will be to submit the Quebec Undertaking Kit with which you will need to include the letter or email you received from IRCC.
    • The Government of Quebec will then review your sponsorship application and let you know if you are eligible for sponsorship.
    • If Quebec accepts you as a sponsor, you will receive a Certificat de sélection du Québec (CSQ or Québec Selection Certificate).
    • IRCC will require the CSQ to be delivered to them before they render a final decision.

    In the past, the Outland sponsorship application was generally processed by the visa office and the time frames were shorter and varied from country to country. However, the Canadian government has recently made changes and Outland and Inland Canada sponsorships now have comparable processing times.

    Yes. Outland applications can be submitted even if you are currently residing in Canada with your Canadian spouse or partner.

    Although this application process is usually initiated when the sponsored person resides outside the country, foreign nationals who are already in Canada and who must travel frequently may prefer this option. During the Inland application process, travel is not recommended and may negatively affect the outcome of the application. The Outland sponsorship process, on the other hand, will allow your spouse or partner to leave the country and return to Canada as a visitor while the application is being processed.

    If you are a Canadian citizen living outside of Canada, you can sponsor your loved one, but will need to prove your intention to live in Canada once your partner becomes a permanent resident of Canada.

    If you are a Canadian permanent resident living outside Canada, you will not be eligible to sponsor a partner or spouse for PR in Canada.

    No. Submitting a sponsorship application from abroad will not give you the right to work in Canada during the processing period. If your spouse or partner is in Canada, you may be able to visit them as a regular visitor, but that does not allow you to work in the country.

    Your spouse or partner is not required to have valid temporary status in Canada for applications submitted through the Outland sponsorship category, as long as the sponsored partner does not reside in Canada.

    The following outlines the main responsibilities of the sponsor and sponsored person applying under Outland sponsorship.

    • Verify that you are eligible to sponsor your relative and that the foreign national you are sponsoring is eligible for sponsorship under one of the following categories: spouse, common-law or conjugal partner.
    • Read, understand and sign the sponsorship agreement and application forms.
    • Provide Canadian immigration authorities with information about your relationship to prove that it is genuine.
    • Provide Canadian immigration authorities with information about your personal finances to show that you are able to provide for the basic needs of your sponsored family member.
    • Pay the application fees.
    • Submit the signed sponsorship and permanent residence application forms, along with supporting documents, to Canadian immigration authorities.

    If you are submitting an Outland application you may have to travel to another city or sometimes even region or country to have a medical exam done by a doctor who is on the IRCC list of designated doctors or to give biometrics at a Visa Application Centre or Application Support Centre. Please note that due to COVID-19 restrictions IRCC has introduced a number of temporary measures related to biometrics and medical exam requirements.

    • A list of biometric collection points and further information about biometrics collection can be found here.
    • A list of Panel Physicians can be found here.

    If you have submitted an Outland application, you may choose to appeal a rejected application. You will most likely need the assistance of an immigration lawyer and will be required to cover legal fees.

    Contact us for Assistance

    Campbell Cohen is one of Canada's leading immigration law firms. Campbell Cohen has over 45 years of experience and features a team of over 60 Canadian immigration attorneys, paralegals, and other dedicated professionals.

    Campbell Cohen uses its dedication and expertise to bring families together in Canada. We provide professional legal services in areas such as sponsoring spouses, partners, children, parents and grandparents, as well as the Super Visa.

    Please connect with us so we can support your family sponsorship needs:

    Find out if you are eligible to sponsor your loved one!