What are the changes to the spousal sponsorship program?

We made changes to help reduce processing times for both in-Canada and overseas applicants.

These changes include the following:

  • One application package for all spousal sponsorship applicants: All applicants, both in Canada and overseas, can now use the same application package and checklists.
  • New basic guide: Applicants can prepare their application using a shorter, more basic guide.
  • Personalized document checklist: Applicants can use one of four checklists (based on who is being sponsored) to find out which forms and documents they need to submit.
  • Simplified relationship questionnaire: The new questionnaire is easier to understand and has fewer questions.
  • Medical exam: Applicants no longer need to submit medical exams up front with an application. Instructions will be sent to the applicant when a medical exam is needed.
  • Police certificates: Applicants need to provide only the police certificates from:
    • the country where they currently live; and
    • the country where they have spent most of their adult life since the age of 18 (if different from the country where they live).

    We’ll request other police certificates only if needed.

  • The person being sponsored can access more information through their online account: They can
    • get instructions to send us other documents we need;
    • see real-time information about their application status;
    • receive messages from us in their online account.

December 2015

  • 2 application kits, separate for in-Canada and overseas
  • 180 pages of guides different for overseas and in-Canada, and for sponsors and applicants
  • 14 guides and checklists
  • 3 separate relationship questionnaires and 1 sponsorship evaluation form
  • Upfront medical exams and police certificates
  • Processing times: up to 26 months (for 80% of cases)

New improved process (December 15, 2016)

  • 1 application kit for everyone
  • 1 guide, 75 pages
  • 1 checklist
  • 1 relationship and sponsorship form
  • Later in the process, medical and police certificates requested
  • Processing times: 12 months for all applicants (for 80% of cases)

Overseas and in-Canada applications all processed within 12 months (for 80% of cases)

  1. Get new application kit. 12 month process
  2. Read basic guide. Refer to complete guide if needed, and check country specific requirements.
  3. Identify your checklist. Identify which checklist applies to your situation: spouse, common-law partner, conjugal partner or a dependent child.
  4. Fill out forms and assemble application package. Include all forms and documents required on the checklist for your situation.
  5. Mail application to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Processing starts.
  6. Receiver letter of acknowledgement and instructions. Review instructions to create online account and link your application.
  7. Link paper application to online account if you wish. Makes it easier to receive and send information.
  8. You have 30 days to submit background information. Complete and submit Schedule A and police certificates.
  9. Medical examination: Wait to receive instructions and medical form, then do your exam
  10. Check account. Receive requests for additional information through your online account, if required.
  11. IRCC completes processing. IRCC will finish processing your application after it has all the necessary information.
  12. Decision issued: If approved, applicant receives permanent residence on visa. If refused, applicants receive letter.


  • Processing time of 26 months for in-Canada applicants and 18 months for overseas applicants (for 80% of cases).

Starting December 7, 2016:

  • Overseas and in-Canada applications all processed within 12 months (for 80% of cases).