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Immigration Process

Q: How long will it take?

This is one question we cannot answer. Processing time varies from centre to centre and depends on the number of applications at a centre at a particular time. We have seen applications processed in as short as 3 months and as long as 3+ years.

There are a few things that you can do that may improve processing time.

  • Prepare your application carefully and thoroughly to avoid missing, incomplete, or inconsistent information.
  • Provide enough supporting documents of your relationship.
  • Provide an accurate and up-to-date mailing address.

Q: Which process is faster?

Family Class sponsorship of a spouse, common-law, or conjugal partner is the highest priority for processing. For each processing centre, it is usually the fastest option. It is usually faster than any kind of Economic Class application, such as for a Skilled Worker.

Family Class applications made outside of Canada are typically processed in 6 to 12 months, but can take longer depending on the office, the application, and the officer.

In Canada Class applications processed in Vegreville have been processed in as little as four months. If the application is forwarded to your local office it will take longer. Some have taken as long as three years or more. Processing times for In Canada applications are generally longer than for outside Canada.

Q: I've applied before June 28, 2002 but still haven't got an approval, why is it taking so long?

The transition to the new law caused long delays. Many applicants have been affected by these delays. Your options depend on where you made your application.

  1. Applications made outside Canada as an independent with an H&C consideration based on a relationship and received by immigration before June 28, 2002.

    Even though your application was made based on a relationship, you may have received a letter asking you to re apply as a skilled worker. You may have heard nothing. In either case, write a letter to your visa office. In your letter explain that you are the common-law partner of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. Follow CIC's instructions on how to handle delayed applications under these circumstances.

    If you would like to take advantage of the new IRPA Family Class provisions, you withdraw your pre-IRPA application as an independent immigrant with humanitarian and compassionate consideration and reapply as a member of the family class. There are some advantages for applications made under the new Family Class. For example, Family Class partner applications are exempt from cost-related medical restrictions.

  2. If your application was made inside Canada it was an H&C application usually done on the basis of your relationship. If it is still in process, it is probably being processed in one of the larger local processing offices. These offices take from one to three years to process applications.

The new policy states that merely being in a relationship (even married) is not sufficient reason to approve an H&C application inside Canada. Old in Canada H&C applications are being rejected unless there are additional undue or undeserved hardship reasons. If you are in this situation you have a few options.

    a) If you do have hardship reasons but have not put them in your original application put together a compelling package and send it in for them to add to your application. You may want to consult a lawyer to help with this.

    b) If you are now married or meet the common-law definition it may be better to put together a new In Canada sponsorship application and send it in, simultaneously withdrawing your H&C application.

    c) Depending on your circumstances, make an outside Canada sponsorship application and leave the H&C application inside Canada as you can use it to continue extending your status in Canada. You can have two applications in progress as long as one is inside Canada and the other is outside Canada.

    d) If you think your H&C application is going to be successful and completed soon, wait.

Q: I hear that you can apply under H&C. What's the process?

You may have heard of the H&C option from same-sex partners who immigrated prior to the current Immigration Act. Before June 28, 2002, asking for Humanitarian & Compassionate (H&C) consideration was the only option same-sex partners had. Most of these applications were successful but this is no longer the best option for same-sex partners. If your relationship meets the definition of conjugal or common-law partners then sponsorship is your best option. For more information on how the H&C options work if sponsorship is not an option see Special Circumstances.

Q: How much does the application cost?

  1. Application processing fees are CDN$550 per adult and CDN$150 per child. You pay this fee before your application is processed. This fee is not refunded even if an application is rejected or withdrawn.
  2. A Right of Permanent Residence Fee of CDN$975 is due before the immigrating partner lands. This fee does not apply for dependent children. You may send this fee with your application or you may wait until permanent residency is granted. This fee is refunded if an application is rejected.
  3. There are other costs involved:
  • Medical examinations cost between $150 to $300. You will need to pay fees for police certificates, official translations of documents, and Notary Public services for affidavits. It is worth calling around because these fees vary from place to place.
  • Photocopying and courier service fees.
  • You may have to travel to the visa office for an interview.
  • If you are inside Canada you may have to pay fees to extend your status in Canada.

Q: Does being married speed up the process?

Being married does not speed up the processing of your application; however, it may mean that you can apply earlier. For immigration purposes, marriages, common-law partnerships and conjugal relationships are viewed equally. In all three cases, applicants must demonstrate the genuineness of their relationship. We would caution you not to marry for immigration purposes, but because it is right for both of you.

Q: I'm living in Canada and my visa has expired. Can I still apply?

The best option is to make a Family Class application outside Canada in your home country. See Special Circumstances for details.

Q: After I send in my application will I be allowed to work in Canada right away?

No. Usually, a work permit is required to work in Canada.

For partners making an In Canada Class application, the immigrating partner is eligible to apply for a work permit after the application receives approval in principle. In practice, the approval in principle can take a long time. Usually it does not take much longer to issue the permanent resident visa.

Some people add a complete application for a work permit to their permanent resident application with directions to the officer to process it as soon as they reach approval in principal. This sometimes works.

There are a few situations where people can work in Canada without a work permit:

  • If you have a study permit, you can work on campus.
  • You can work for a foreign company that does not have a presence inside Canada and you get paid outside of Canada.

Q: How many letters of support should we provide to prove our relationship?

Sorry, there is no magic number--more than two, less than fifty. Think about what would be convincing to an immigration officer and choose the best of what you have. Try to get letters from a variety of sources including some family members or friends for each partner. Letters from recognizable people in your community are very effective. For example, ask your doctor or MP, religious leader, or a university professor. Since they are requesting Statutory Declarations, you could have some of the letters notarized.

Q: I was married before my current relationship. I am separated from my spouse but not divorced. Can I apply to immigrate as a same-sex partner?

Yes, you are eligible to apply as a common-law or conjugal partner as long as you have been separated for at least one year. Also, you must have been in your current relationship for at least one year.

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Medical Exam

Q: What doctor do I go to for my medical? How much does the medical cost?

You can go to any Designated Medical Practitioner in the world for your exam. Designated Medical Practitioners are listed, by country, on the CIC web site.

Keep in mind that immigration may ask you to return to the same doctor for additional tests.

The cost of the medical varies. In Canada it is typically $200-$300. If you have a choice of doctors in your area it is worth calling different doctors to ask about fees. You can also ask how quickly they send the results.

Q: When should I get the medical exam?

The results of the medical examination are only valid for one year. It is best to do the medical exam just before you send in your application package. The doctor will provide you with a receipt (IMM1017) to show that you have had the examination. Include this receipt with your application. The doctor will send your medical examination results to be added to your file.

Q: What is involved in the medical exam?

In Canada, the medical exam includes a general medical history, chest x-rays, urinalysis, and a TB test. The doctor may test for HIV. The medical examination does not include an internal exam.

Q: Do I have to tell the doctor that I have a same-sex partner?

You do not have to mention the gender of your partner. However, the forms that you take to the doctor for a Family Class application made outside of Canada include the Sponsor's name and address and the applicant's relationship to the sponsor. The doctor may know the gender of the partner from the name on the form.

The medical examination should not include detailed questions about sex. You can ask a doctor if the question they are asking is required for the report. If you become uncomfortable with a doctor's questions you may take your forms and look for another doctor.

Q: Would any disease or illness prevent me from getting Permanent Resident status?

The immigrating partner will not be granted permanent resident status if they have a disease or condition that is a threat to public health and safety. If you are "medically inadmissible" because of public health concerns your application may be rejected or delayed until the disease is treated. For example, people with active tuberculosis (TB) are medically inadmissible until the TB is treated. .

Q: Will my application be rejected because I am HIV+?

If you are making an application as spouses, common-law, or conjugal partners using either the outside Canada Family Class or In Canada Class, your application should not be rejected because of your HIV+ status. This is because spouses, partners, and dependent children are exempt from the excessive cost medical restrictions.

If you are making an Economic Class application such as a Skilled Worker application, the Family Class exemptions to not apply. If either partner or any dependents has a medical or mental condition that comes under medical inadmissibility then no one will be accepted. Being HIV+ is usually considered an excessive medical cost.

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Sponsorship

Q: Do I have to earn or have a certain amount of money in order to be able to sponsor my partner?

No. The regulations state that the sponsor is exempt from meeting the income requirements when sponsoring a spouse, common-law or conjugal partner, or dependent children. However, you must provide financial information. According to the immigration officers' manual, an immigration officer must be convinced that sponsors will be able to support themselves and everyone they are sponsoring.

The officers' manual does not override immigration regulations. In the rare case that an application is denied on financial grounds it is worth appealing.

Q: Can I sponsor my partner if I don't have a job?

Yes. Immigration regulations state that the sponsor is exempt from meeting the income requirements when sponsoring a spouse, common-law or conjugal partner, or dependent children.

Q: Can I sponsor my partner if I'm on a disability pension?

Yes. There is a specific exemption for sponsors who are on social assistance due to a disability. You must meet all the other sponsorship requirements.

Q: I had to declare bankruptcy two years ago. Can I sponsor my partner?

You must discharge your bankruptcy before you can be approved as a sponsor. Once your bankruptcy has been discharged you are eligible to sponsor your partner. You must meet all the other sponsorship requirements.

Q: If my sponsorship is not approved, what option do I have?

There is a question at the beginning of form IMM1344A that asks what you want to do if you are rejected as a sponsor. There are two choices. Each choice has different practical legal implications. You also need to consider the impression each choice makes. Make the choice you are practically, emotionally, and financially able to live with.

  1. You can withdraw your sponsorship. Immigration will return the file and all fees except CDN$75. In this case the application ceases to exist and there are no appeal options. Your only option is to start a whole new application when you do meet the sponsorship requirements. With this option, you are saying to the immigration officer "if I can't sponsor, then let's forget the whole thing."
  2. You can choose to continue processing your partner's part of the application even if the sponsorship is not approved.

Since there is no legal sponsor they will probably reject the application. If the application was made outside of Canada, you have the right to appeal the to the Immigration Appeal Division of the Immigration and Refugee Board.

If the application was an In Canada application, you do not have any appeal rights with the Immigration Appeal Division. You do have the right to file an application for Leave for Judicial Review with the Federal Court. This is much narrower than an appeal and most applications are not granted leave to have a judicial review hearing.

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Outside Canada Application

Q: I am in Canada with a visitor's visa, if I want to use the outside Canada process do I have to go back to my country to apply? Do I have to go back to my country to get the fingerprints and criminal record check?

No and No.

The application may be sent from Canada to the visa office serving your country. However, if an interview is required, you will have to go to that visa office or the designated interview location.

Fingerprints can be obtained many places. Check:

  • Fingerprinting Services in the Yellow Pages
  • The Corps of Commissionaires
  • The RCMP or local police stations.

Many people are outside the countries they need a police certificate from when they apply for permanent residence.

  • The CIC Guide gives some information on how to obtain a Police Certificate from several countries as well as a list of countries you must supply them for.
  • You can also check a Guide from a visa office near the country you need a Police Certificate from as they are more likely to have information on getting a Police Certificate from nearby countries.
  • You can contact the relevant Embassy or Consulate in Canada for information on how to obtain the required Police Certificate
  • Some countries will not provide a Police Certificate if you are not in their country. For these countries the visa office will do their own checks.
  • Note that Immigration requires additional forms and information if you are from, or need a Police Certificate from, certain countries. You may have to call the Immigration Call Centre to obtain them.

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In Canada Application

Q: If I use the In Canada process, would I be able to leave Canada during my application process?

For an In Canada application you must remain in legal status in Canada. There is no law that prevents you from leaving Canada, for example for a brief vacation. However, remember that there is always some risk that you may not be able to reenter Canada when you return. CIC says In Canada applicants "have no guarantee that you will be permitted to return or reenter Canada if leave before permanent residence is approved."

Q: How easy is it to get visas renewed in Canada?

It has been getting more difficult over the last few years. The form is not difficult to fill in, and the information required is not difficult to provide, but it is getting harder to convince Immigration to approve a renewal. Remember, visa renewal is always at the discretion of an officer. They can always say no. To approve a visa renewal an immigration officer must be convinced that

  • you have the funds to support yourself during your stay in Canada
  • you have the intention and funds to leave when your visa expires

See the Extending Your Stay in Canada on Temporary Visa page for more detailed information on what to do in your particular situation.

Q: Do I need to have a return ticket to extend a visa?

No, it is not essential, but it would help to have a return ticket if you don't have a permanent resident application in process inside Canada. Demonstrating that you have the funds to support yourself and purchase a return ticket also help your visa renewal application. Remember that visa extensions are still discretionary; Immigration is not required to extend your visa. A temporary visa implies that you will leave Canada when the visa expires. Do what you can to demonstrate that you won't overstay your visa.

Q: Can I to apply to extend my status in Canada if it is less than 30 days before my status expires?

Yes. Although the guide says you must do it at least 30 days before your status expires, the law only says Immigration must receive your application before your status expires. We don't suggest waiting until the last minute but, if necessary, here are some last minute panic options:

  • Use a courier service so that your application gets there one business day before your status expires. Please note that Vegreville is not a major centre and next day courier deliveries take two days to get there.
  • You can mail it that last day as long as it is clearly postmarked on that day and Immigration receives it within 7 days.
  • You can fax it to Immigration as late as the afternoon of the day your status expires as long as it is a business day and they are open. Keep a copy of your fax confirmation of receipt.

Q: Am I illegal in Canada if I apply for an extension of status but I don't receive my visa extension before my original status expires?

No. You have implied status between the date your status expires and Immigration tells you they have extended or refused your application. If immigration refuses your application, you will receive a paper that must be handed to an immigration officer when you leave Canada by the date on the paper. As long as you leave by the date and hand in the paper to the proper officer, it will not prevent you from returning to Canada later. We know of one person who had implied status for 5.5 months and then received a six-month extension for a total of almost one year!

Q: Can I get a visitor extension of more than six months?

Legally, Immigration does not have a limit on how long or short they can issue a visitor visa for. Usually, when you apply for an extension of a visitor visa they will give you six months, especially if that is what you ask for.

If you have already submitted an In Canada Class or H&C permanent resident application in Canada, we suggest you ask for an extension of status for "the anticipated processing time of your permanent resident application."

Q: After I send in my application will I be allowed to work in Canada right away?

No. Usually, a work permit is required to work in Canada.

For partners making an In Canada Class application, the immigrating partner is eligible to apply for a work permit after the application receives approval in principle. In practice, the approval in principle can take a long time. Usually it does not take much longer to issue the permanent resident visa.

Some people add a complete application for a work permit to their permanent resident application with directions to the officer to process it as soon as they reach approval in principal. This sometimes works.

There are a few situations where people can work in Canada without a work permit:

  • If you have a study permit, you can work on campus.
  • You can work for a foreign company that does not have a presence inside Canada and you get paid outside of Canada.

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Last update: Nov. 15, 2003

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Immigration Process
Medical Exam
Sponsorship
Outside Canada Application
In Canada Application