Spousal Sponsors Must Provide “Adequate Care and Support” For Foreign Spouses


cashFor many individuals who wish to immigrate to Canada, there are minimum income or asset requirements that will determine whether an applicant is successful or not.  These requirements are quite apart from the educational, work experience, language and other hurdles.

In terms of a Canadian spouse sponsoring a foreign resident for Canadian permanent residence – generally speaking – the minimum income requirements or asset levels do not apply.  This is for good reason – spouses should not be kept separate just because of a certain income threshold.

However, there is a requirement on the foreign spouse than you may not know about.

Section 39 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act states:

39. A foreign national is inadmissible for financial reasons if they are or will be unable or unwilling to support themself or any other person who is dependent on them, and have not satisfied an officer that adequate arrangements for care and support, other than those that involve social assistance, have been made.

So what does that mean?

It means that a foreign spouse has to satisfy a visa officer that “adequate arrangements for care and support” have been made in Canada for them.

Typically, the sponsor is the one who will be supporting the foreign spouse, at least initially.  However, the foreign spouse may have significant assets that could overcome this requirement as well.

So what does “adequate care and support mean?

As with many aspects of immigration law, there is no clear guideline that will determine adequate care and support.  However, we can safely say that a Canadian spouse should at least be employed or show some kind of income.  If he or she is currently unemployed, he or she should at least show a history of employment.

A case that is illustrates this concept is the 2008 case of Han vs. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration) from the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB).

In this case, the Canadian spouse applied to sponsor his wife who resided in China.  The visa officer denied the application because the foreign spouse has insufficient assets to support herself, and that she failed to show she has adequate arrangements for her care and support in Canada through her sponsor.

The couple appealed the visa officer’s decision. The IRB reviewed the case and found that these facts were particularly relevant:

  • The Canadian spouse had just started working without a confirmed salary or firm employment contract.
  • In the previous two years the Canadian spouse had not worked and could not show income for that time period.
  • The Canadian spouse did not produce a tax return to show he had earned any income in the previous 2 years.
  • Although the foreign spouse owned a rental property in China, there was no evidence presented as to its value nor its rental income.
  • There was no evidence presented of a claimed job offer in Canada for the foreign spouse.

What can we take from this case?

It’s clear that the Canadian spouse’s history of unemployment spanning 2 years was detrimental to the application.  The lack of evidence of any income or tax returns hurt as well.  Finally, the foreign spouse’s lack of evidence of any assets or a job offer in Canada sealed their fate.

In a sponsorship application, it is important to show strong evidence of a history of employment (even if currently unemployed), or a stream of income if self-employed, preferably through income tax returns if possible.

A foreign spouse’s assets can help, so documented evidence of assets should be included, along with a plan to liquidate those assets if the sponsorship application is successful.

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About the author

Gianpaolo Panusa Gianpaolo Panusa is a Canadian immigration lawyer, writer, and founder of the PanCanadian Immigration Law Group based in Vancouver, Canada. Google+ Profile