Canadian immigration law in the area of spousal sponsorships has been extended to include common-law partners and same-sex partners (requiring proof of having lived together in a commited sexual relationship for at least a year).
The Canadian equivalent of the green card is a maple leaf card, which allows one to live and work anywhere in Canada, and ultimately to qualify for Canadian citizenship after three years of permanent residence. Sponsorship can be done by a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident. The average processing time is approximately 8 to 12 months. However, depending on specific circumstances and regions, it may be shorter, or as long as 36 months. While in theory you can apply for permanent resident status and visitor’s status at the same time, your application for visitor’s status may be unsuccessful, since it is likely that immigration officials will question your intention to leave Canada when it expires.
Joining your spouse in Canada
A spouse can be sponsored to enter Canada for permanent residence. This application, which also applies to common law and same-sex relationships, requires a sponsorship, an application for permanent residence, and some regional-specific work.
Remaining with your spouse in Canada
If you have been living together in Canada, or you are married and both of you are in Canada, you can sponsor your spouse from within the country. This applies equally to common-law and same-sex relationships. The beauty of this type of application is that, once the principal application is approved “in principle” by the Immigration Office, the foreign spouse can obtain a work permit. The approval in principal usually takes about five or six months.
Entering Canada to marry your fiancé(e)
The designation of fiancé(e) has been removed from the new rules pertaining to Canadian immigration. Entering Canada on this basis is now not possible. As mentioned in the discussion on US immigration, entering Canada under the pretext of being a visitor, and then marrying a fiancé(e) and applying for a maple leaf card, risks fraud. Although it is not formalized to the same extent in the law in Canada, the amount of time that passes between entry into the country and a marriage affects the onus placed on the couple to disprove fraud.
Are children included in the process?
Spousal sponsorship includes dependent children. This is the case whether the application takes place from within or outside of Canada. Dependent children are those under or over 22 years of age, depending on their particular circumstances.