The Struggle Is Real For Canadians Seeking Spousal Visas For Their Partners

How far would you go for love? Would you move to another country? Would you sponsor your main squeeze to come to Canada?

*Photo by Niloy Biswas on Unsplash

In 2019, the Canadian government plans to distribute between 83,000 and 98,000 visas for the purpose of family reunification, many of which will be spousal visas.

Everyone knows a story about a Canadian who met and fell in love with a foreign national during an academic exchange/stint spent working overseas/a trip backpacking through Country X. But you can’t stay long distance forever, and sooner or later, someone’s gotta move or you’ve gotta move on…

Administrative assistant Krystyn met her American partner, Blaise, at New York’s La Guardia airport when she was in the city visiting friends. Blaise, who had planned a vacation to the 6ix, was a passenger on Krystyn’s flight home to Toronto. They met before boarding and felt an instant connection. Despite the fact Blaise was headed to Toronto to visit some pals, he ended up spending most of his time with Wighton. A couple of years later, and the pair are still blissfully in love.

After becoming serious, the Kystyn and Blaise debated which country to live in. Says Krystyn, “I was originally interested in moving to NYC.” What changed their minds, however, was Canada’s more robust social safety net, specifically the country’s more generous parental leave policies. Originally from Cameroon, Blaise speaks fluent French and also liked the availability of bilingual education in Ontario, where they plan to settle. Ultimately, Krystyn explains, “I thought it would be a safer environment up here to raise a family.”

For Blaise and Krystyn, the most challenging part of the immigration process is being patient. While Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government has recently brought the wait time for spousal visas down to an average of twelve months, a significant improvement to the system, but a faster timeline doesn’t mean it’s easy to get your boo across the border.

So what makes securing a spousal visa so tedious to this day? The answer is red tape. There are plenty of forms to fill out, and you’ll be expected to provide proof of your relationship. What kind of proof, you ask? Think loving texts, wedding photos, and receipts from your most recent visits to one another. What happens if the immigration authorities aren’t adequately convinced by this record of your relationship? Well, they have the power to withhold a visa without even giving applicants a chance to refute their concerns. That means a couple could be waiting around for a year just to have their application unceremoniously rejected.

And it’s not just their undying ardor a couple must prove. The Canadian sponsor must also demonstrate they have the ability to support their partner while they get established in this new country. They say you can’t buy love, but when it comes to acquiring a visa for your partner, the government expects you to be able to pay for it…

Despite the expectation that couples jump through more hoops than a Jack Russell Terrier at a dog show, there are ways to maximize the odds of success. Chi-Chi, a Canadian national who sponsored her husband to immigrate to Canada in 2016, advises consulting an immigration lawyer if you can. After initially submitting what authorities claimed was an “incomplete” immigration package, she and her husband sought pro-bono legal services to ensure they were dotting their proverbial I’s and crossing those metaphorical T’s.

In the end, Chi-Chi maintains making a family home in Canada was worth every last immigration headache. For Chi-Chi and her husband, Nigeria did not offer the same opportunities for professional success and prosperity. Says Chi-Chi, “We wanted more for ourselves.”

So, how much paper work you do for love? Find us on social media and share your stories!

Sarah Sahagian

Sarah Sahagian

Sarah Sahagian is a feminist writer based in Toronto. Her byline has appeared in such publications as Elle Canada, Flare, Bitch Media, The Toronto Star, and The National Post. She is also the co-host of You Do You: A Dating Podcast. Sarah holds a master’s degree in Gender Studies from The London School of Economics. You can find her on Twitter, where she posts about politics and live-tweets The Bachelor