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Spousal Sponsorships: Tips for proof of relationship

Q: What can help me have a successful spousal sponsorship? Submitted by Andrew W.

A Canadian citizen, a permanent resident of Canada, or a person registered in Canada as an Indian under the Canadian Indian Act can sponsor a spouse, common law, or conjugal partner from another country to live with them in Canada. You must be at least 18 years old, be financially capable of supporting yourself and the person you wish to sponsor and you must prove that your relationship is genuine.



  • at least 18 years old

  • legally married to the sponsor


  • at least 18 years old

  • continuously cohabitated with the sponsor for at least 1 year

Conjugal partner:

  • at least 18 years old

  • in a relationship Canadian citizen or permanent resident for a minimum of 1 year

  • living outside Canada

  • unable to live with their partner in their current country of residence due to legal and immigration factors.

So now that we know what the classifications are, how do you prove you qualify to Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)?

IRCC officers should be satisfied that a genuine relationship exists to approve your Canadian spouse visa. A relationship that is not genuine or that was entered into primarily for the purpose of acquiring any status or privilege will be refused. The IRCC allows sponsors to show proof to demonstrate that the relationship with the spouse, common-law partner, or conjugal partner is genuine.

Example of Proof

  1. Marriage Certificate

The most obvious and easiest form of proof of your marriage is an issued marriage

certificate, bearing both your legal names.

Where things get tricky is if you're not legally married. For common law and conjugal partners, obtaining reference letters from a number of family and friends attesting to your relationship is a great asset. Examples of when they met your significant other are helpful to establish a timeline and bring some credibility to your assertion.

2. A picture is worth 1000 words, and the IRCC agrees!

It might seem easier for a married couple to just show off their wedding day photos, however, the IRCC wants to see more than a day worth of proof. From the beginning of your relationship until the present day, providing at least 20 photographs, showing you and your spouse/partner together over the course of your time together, speaks volumes.

3. Joint accounts all around.

When you sign up for heating and electricity in your place together, be sure to put the account in both of your names. Car Insurance? Both names. Buying property or signing a rental agreement? Make sure both of your names go on the contract. Not only does it make dealing with customer service a lot easier, but it also shows the IRCC a timeline of you sharing your lives together by something outside your personal circle. Providing evidence that doesn't come from you or your friends and family, packs a punch of proof for your relationship.

4. Joint or not, address matters.

Each of you having a driver's license that shows the same residing address is proof, and it Government issued, so that helps! Even if you don't get joint accounts on every bill, being able to provide separate bills that go to the same address is helpful. Keep in mind, that this type of evidence alone doesn't prove a relationship, so it is used more as support rather than a key piece on its own.

5. Dependent paperwork.

Did you adopt or give birth to a child together? A long-form birth certificate of the child, or adoption paper, showing both of you as their parents helps to establish a relationship and a timeline.

6. Proof of contact.

If you and your spouse/partner don't live together, you'll want to provide proof of the times you do spend together, either in person or over the phone.

This looks like:

  • letters, printed text messages, emails, or social media conversations. A maximum of 10 pages should be provided

  • proof of the sponsor's visits, such as airline ticket coupons or used boarding passes, photocopies of pages of passport for your sponsor showing entry-exit stamps supporting visits, etc.

7. Tell your love story!

Each of you writing a relationship narrative is extremely important to include with your application. Talk about the day you met, what led up to that moment, how your relationship progressed and how you ended up where you are today. Details are important, and including things that tie in your other provided types of proof is essential to writing an effective narrative. If your parents wrote a reference letter, talk about the first time you introduced your spouse/partner to them. If you've provided proof of a joint rental agreement, discuss how you decided to move into together and how you chose your home. Each of your writing your love story from your own perspectives will go a long way in proving your relationship is genuine.

Assessing for relationship of convenience

If the documents submitted do not provide adequate proof of a genuine conjugal relationship within the context of a marriage or common-law relationship, or if officers doubt that the applicant is living with the sponsor, an officer may request additional information or schedule an interview. To help assess whether necessary requirements are met, an officer has the discretion, on a case-by-case basis, to request that the sponsor and applicant complete and submit a Supplementary Relationship Questionnaire and/or to convoke them for an interview.

Spouse or common-law partner in Canada cases requiring further investigation should be referred to an inland IRCC office. The local IRCC office may interview both the sponsor and the applicant, separately, to establish whether the relationship is genuine. If an applicant is interviewed to address concerns, be sure to record all questions posed and answers given in the interview. Where applicable, the interview notes may then be used to substantiate the decision made on the application. This is especially important, given the right of a sponsor to appeal the refusal of an application processed abroad under the family class.

Immigration Station Canada will work with you and guide you through the best process to achieve your goals, wherever they lead!


About Us

Immigration Station Canada is a dedicated, professional Canadian Immigration firm practicing out of Northumberland County, just east of Toronto, in Canada. We serve clients from Kingston, Belleville, Brighton, Cobourg, Oshawa, the GTA, Guelph, Milton, Stratford and St. Catharines and around the world. Our Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant, Anne C. McCaughey (Annie) is an experienced immigration services provider and a fifth-generation Canadian who values the immigration process and the unique individuals who immigrate to Canada to become part of the fabric of this wonderful country. If you would like to submit a question to Ask Annie, use the contact form.

How Can We Help? We do work permits, study permits, visitor visas, Express Entry, spousal sponsorship, family class sponsorship, and Canadian citizenship with expertise in Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) applications and Global Talent Stream applications. Please contact us if you would like assistance with your immigration application or to book an appointment.

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