I am a Canadian citizen residing in Toronto and am engaged to a person who doesn't have legal status in Canada. He's never been convicted of a crime and he doesn't have any medical problems. We've been in this relationship for about 3 years. Now it's been a year that we share the same bank account and the same apartment. We intend to get married and start a family together since we love and respect each other.
I read on www.cic.gc.ca that “you can apply as a sponsor if your spouse, common-law or conjugal partner, or accompanying dependent children live with you in Canada, even if they do not have legal status in Canada. However, all the other requirements must be met.”
Can I sponsor him and complete the sponsorship process while he's in Canada without him having to return to his country of origin? Thanks a lot.
You definitely can sponsor him from within Canada and without him having to leave the country. However, there are a few factors to consider. Firstly, you can’t sponsor a “fiancée” but you can sponsor a common law partner with whom you have cohabited in a conjugal relationship for at least one year. (See my most recent column in which I described what you will have to prove to qualify as such.) Since you have lived together in your apartment for one year, you may qualify if you meet all the other conditions.
Secondly, since your fiancée is here illegally he has shown a strong willingness to stay in Canada since he is willing to break Canadian law in order to remain here. This will definitely be a factor in the mind of the officer who will have to decide whether he is staying in Canada to be with you or whether he is with you so he can stay in Canada.
Thirdly, cases processed in Canada can be quick (i.e. one of our clients who we filed for in April, 2008 is scheduled to be landed next week). However, if CIC decides to interview your fiancée, then it will definitely take longer i.e. over a year depending on how busy your local CIC is. Your fiancé is more likely to be referred to an interview due to his unlawful status here. If an interview is scheduled, your application may take longer inland than it would take overseas, again depending on the processing timeframes of the visa post responsible for your fiancée’s country of nationality.
Finally, there is always a chance, usually small, that your fiancé could be detained by immigration authorities. This is not likely if your fiancé merely overstayed his status here. However, if he was known to be here by immigration authorities and was asked to leave but didn’t, the chances of arrest are higher. Immigration officials will have to decide if he is a “flight risk” even though he has come forward and identified himself and his whereabouts.
I would recommend that you see an experienced immigration professional for a consultation so that you can determine whether or not you want to go at it on your own or with hired help.
Guidy Mamann practices law in Toronto at Mamann & Associates and is certified by the Law Society of Upper Canada as an immigration specialist. Reach him confidentially at 416-862-0000 or at .