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Spousal Sponsorship-Canada/FAQ - New Application Forms

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Spousal Sponsorship-Canada/FAQ - New Application Forms

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This article focuses on frequently asked questions, specifically pertaining to Outland sponsorship applications. This FAQ focuses on the new sponsorship forms, which were issued in December 2016 and must be used for any applications filed from February 2017 onwards.

In this section, references to the Sponsor mean the Canadian Citizen or Canadian PR who will be sponsoring their non-Canadian partner.

The Applicant refers to the non-Canadian who is being sponsored by the Sponsor.

For general information about Spousal Sponsorship, including pros and cons for applying inland versus outland, please read this article: http://britishexpats.com/wiki/Spousal_Sponsorship-Canada

Family Class forms for outland applications can be found here: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/applications/spouse.asp

The majority of this article will assume that the Applicant is British; if you are not British and are reading this, then you should be able to substitute the equivalent document or information for your own country. (For example, there's a reference to the P60 form, which is a UK statement of earnings form; substitute the equivalent for your own country.)

The Table of Contents below is split into eight main sections:

  • Section 1: General Questions
  • Section 2: The Checklists
  • Section 3: Forms for the Sponsor
  • Section 4: Forms for the Principal Applicant
  • Section 5: Forms for both the Sponsor and the Principal Applicant
  • Section 6: Supporting Documents Required for the Sponsor
  • Section 7: Supporting Documents Required for the Principal Applicant
  • Section 8: What happens after you apply

Within each section, the questions are broken down by form, to make it easier for you to find an answer for a particular question on a particular form.


[edit] FAQs with the General Application

[edit] I am the applicant, and I am living in Canada. Can I still apply outland?

Yes. You can still provide your Canadian address, and fill out the outland forms. For nearly all Brits living in Canada, this means their application will be processed in London.

Read the Spousal Sponsorship article linked above to understand the pros and cons of applying outland while living within Canada. The biggest consideration is that if you are called for an interview, the interview may take place in London, and often with only a few weeks' notice. However, the vast majority of applicants are not called for an interview, and more recently, applicants have been able to do their interviews within Canada at their nearest CIC office, despite applying outland. Still, it is a risk to be aware of.

For how you specify whether you are applying inland vs outland, please refer here: How to apply inland or outland

[edit] What parts of the application get sent where and when?

Fill out the entire application, both sections (i.e., the sponsor section and the sponsored person section), and send the whole giant application off to Mississauga. The address to send it to is found on CIC's website, here: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/applications/guides/3900ETOC.asp#3900E6 (Note the different addresses for if you are sending your application by normal mail as opposed to via a courier. It is highly recommended that you send your application via signed and tracked courier, tracked all the way to Mississauga, as the signature upon receipt is the only real confirmation you will get that your application actually arrived successfully. Read more here: UPDATE

[edit] How long will it take?

The application process is broken into two stages: The first stage is the approval of the Sponsor, and the second stage is the approval of the Applicant. CIC posts their estimated processing times for each stage here: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/times/index.asp# The total time to process is the combination of the two processing times.

In December 2016, CIC announced changes to the spousal sponsorship application process. They aim to process all applications within 12 months from the time they receive the application, which includes the time for sponsor approval.

The majority of applicants who come to BE have "straight-forward" applications - no criminal records, no messy divorces and remarriages, no previous sponsorship undertakings, and so on - generally, "easy" circumstances. A spreadsheet is maintained that tracks processing time for these straight-forward applications: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1kYJ0Xo_jHLeArkCVeicZyqIE8YLpnZqVJlFrnpmKMx0/edit#gid=396125530 (Details on how to be added to the spreadsheet can be found right on the spreadsheet.) As of February 2017, average processing time for straight-forward applications is about 8 months for applications processed in London, and 5 months for applications processed in Ottawa.

[edit] Which office will process my outland application?

CIC will select which outland office will process your application. Generally speaking, the office selected will be based on your country of citizenship, according to this site from CIC: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/offices/apply-where.asp British applicants will most often be processed in London; London also processes applications for Irish, Swedish, and Danish citizens, among others.

Occasionally, CIC will select the processing country based on the applicant's country of residency; an Australian living in Edinburgh may be processed in London... or they may be processed in Sydney, Australia, depending on what CIC chooses.

You cannot specify which office you would like to process your application, CIC will decide. You will find out which office is processing your application when you receive sponsor approval; the address of the office that has your application will be listed on the approval email or letter.

[edit] Why do some applications go to Ottawa or Mississauga instead of London?

Back in 2014, applicants applying via Islamabad found their applications were being forwarded directly to London instead of to Islamabad after sponsor approval. In addition, a number of applicants from late 2013 and early 2014 were informed that their applications were transferred from Islamabad to London. This was done to help alleviate the mass backlog experienced in Islamabad (~33 months processing time).

In order to help manage the workload in London, a number of British applicants found their applications were being either held for stage 2 processing in Mississauga, or sent to Ottawa, instead of being forwarded to London, as expected, and some applications were still forwarded to London. There does not seem to be any obvious rhyme or reason on which office CIC selects between the three to process applications. The spreadsheet linked above tracks processing times across the different offices.

It is not known how long this office variation will last. Applications stopped being held in Mississauga in April 2015. In early 2017, applications started being held in Mississauga again, as well as still going to Ottawa and London. From March 2017, however, applications no longer went to Ottawa. The vast majority went to London with only a handful held in Mississauga. (Last update on office distribution: November 2017)

[edit] Can I pick which office my application goes to? Ottawa/Mississauga is so much faster!

No, you can't pick. The decision is up to CIC. There is no obvious pattern to tell why some applications are sent to Ottawa or held in Mississauga and others are sent to London. At this point it appears to just be luck of the draw. (We suspect it has to do with work loads in a given office at the point the file is transferred, but that's just a guess.)

[edit] How does CIC decide which applications go to which office?

We don't know. There doesn't seem to be any obvious pattern to which applications are sent to London and which are sent to Ottawa.

[edit] Do I need to pay the Right of Permanent Residence fee up front?

Officially, no. Recommended, yes.

You do not have to pay the full RPRF up front, however, it will delay your application if you do not.

If you choose not to pay up front, CIC will have to request the payment from you, you have to receive it, you have to make the payment, you have to send CIC proof of payment, they have to receive the payment, and they have to match it up with your application. All of this takes time. If you are able to pay the full RPRF up front, then do so.

[edit] Do I need to do an up-front medical?

Yes, but CIC will contact you when they are ready for you to go do your medical, so don't worry about getting it done before you apply. Wait for CIC to contact you to request it.

[edit] I have a child who is Canadian. Do they need to be included on my application form?

No. Canadian children do not need to be sponsored, and should not be included on your application. This article from CIC helps determine whether your child is already Canadian: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/helpcentre/answer.asp?qnum=365&top=5

It is strongly recommended you get your child's Canadian paperwork in order (citizenship certificate, passport) before you move to Canada.

Non-Canadian children DO need to be included on your application.

[edit] I have determined that my child is Canadian, but I have no official proof of that. What do I do?

Get the application started NOW to get your proof for your child in order. This means first applying for the child's Citizenship Certificate, then after that applying for their passport.

You do not have to have either of the above documents to submit your sponsorship application, though. Just write a note to explain that your child is Canadian and you have applied for their proof and can provide it once you receive it if necessary.

CIC will not reject your application if you do not provide proof that your child is Canadian, but it may delay processing as they'll need to verify that your child does not need to be processed. So it's better to have the proof, but it's not a deal-breaker if you don't.

Further reading can be found here: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/applications/guides/5525ETOC.asp#mistakes (the section titled "Important information about children born to Canadian citizens")

Note, though, that you WILL need your child's Canadian passport in hand when you actually do make the move to Canada. Your child will not be able to fly to Canada on their British passport. This is because Brits need an eTA to travel to Canada on an airline, and Canadian citizens cannot apply for an eTA even if they are travelling on a different passport. So be sure to get your child's Canadian passport organized before you move.

[edit] I am the Sponsor, and I don't work. Can I still sponsor my partner?

Yes. There is no minimum income requirement for a Canadian Citizen or PR to sponsor their non-Canadian spouse. It does not matter if the Sponsor is unemployed, a stay-at-home parent, or works a low-income job. The only requirement to sponsor is that the Sponsor is not receiving government assistance (with the exception of disability payments). Note that government assistance does NOT refer to employment insurance, that is a completely different thing. Government assistance refers to programs like welfare - housing assistance, food stamps, and so on.

[edit] Is there any minimum income requirement to sponsor?

Generally no, with one exception.

As per the guide, the only people who must meet a minimum income are those who have dependent children who have dependent children of their own.

[edit] How should I organise my application?

Documents and pages in the following order:

1. Barcode pages (generated by IMM0008) on top of everything

2. Completed checklist next

3. Put the forms and supporting documents in the same order as they appear on the checklist (CIC's instructions specifically state to do this).

If you carefully read the detailed completion guide on the CIC website (aka IMM5289), it is somewhat ambiguous as to whether the checklist OR the barcode pages should be topmost. But since it says that the checklist should be on top once and says the barcode pages go on top twice (in two different places further down the scroll), you should go with the barcode pages on top. But either way relax, it won't be rejected just for that!

As per CIC's instructions, do not use staples, large paperclips (like accountants' clips or alligator clips), or anything else bulky or manual. You are fine to use things like binder dividers, though. Note that paperclips can be used to secure photos to paper, but use them sparingly. This is what CIC says about what to use and not use:

"Do not use staples, binders, plastic sleeves, folders or albums to submit your application. Elastic bands for photos or paper clips are acceptable." (From Step 5 http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/applications/guides/5525ETOC.asp)

Two examples of a table of contents used can be found below:

[edit] We are applying as Common-Law partners, but we are living separately. What are the implications of this?

This is honestly a bit of a grey area.

In the qualifying period (that is, the first 12 months), CIC is very strict about the partners living together and not being apart at all. While there are allowances for short trips for business, or a "boys' weekend" away, the longer the separation, the riskier it is. There have been cases where one partner went on holiday for two weeks without the other partner, and that was deemed to break cohabitation. The rule of thumb is absolutely make all efforts to minimize time apart in the first 12 months.

After the period of common-law has been established, CIC is generally a bit more lenient. The handbook states that partners can be apart and still be considered common-law as long as a conjugal relationship still exists, but again, it's risky. There have been some cases of partners who lived together for awhile but then were forced to live apart, usually because of visa or money concerns, and who have still had their applications approved. However, there have also been one or two cases where the applicant has had their application rejected because they were living apart from their sponsor, even after the original 12-month qualifying period.

So the risk is yours to take, but it is generally best to try to minimize the amount of time apart and not to invite the question.

[edit] We are thinking about getting married so that we can apply for sponsorship faster, but doesn't this mean we are getting married for the purposes of immigration?

If your plan would have been to get married anyway, but you have been together for ages and marriage is a way that you can stay together, then CIC does not consider this "getting married for the purposes of immigration."

CIC would view a marriage for immigration purposes as a relationship that was entered into primarily for the purpose of receiving some sort of immigration status.

If the two people are in a legitimate and genuine relationship but are either unable to meet the requirements for common-law, or would prefer not to wait the requisite 12 months for whatever reason (commonly financial ones!) then getting married in order to apply for sponsorship sooner is extremely unlikely to cause a problem.

[edit] I want to sponsor my partner. We live in different countries and are nor married. Can we apply as conjugal partners?

In 99.9% of cases, no. The requirements for being approved as conjugal partners are incredibly specific and incredibly strict. Read more here: BE Conjugal Partnerships (this includes an example of a successful conjugal application).

[edit] Do I have to have my photocopies notarized?

No. The document checklist states to send photocopies of documents unless otherwise specified, and that the documents must be in either English or French. As long as your documents meet the language requirements, photocopies are fine. If CIC wants a photocopy notarized, it will either be specified as such on the checklist, or it they will separately contact you to request it.

If your document is NOT in English or French, you do need to provide a certified translation.

[edit] Which fees do I pay?

For a Canadian sponsor sponsoring their partner and no one else:

  • 1) Application fee of $75
  • 2) Principal applicant fee of $475
  • 3) Right of Permanent Residence fee of $490

The total fee is $1040.

You do NOT pay the $550 for a spouse or common-law partner, because the spouse or common-law partner is already Canadian. You would only pay this in a situation where the partner was not Canadian and was being sponsored.

If the principal applicant has accompanying dependants who are not Canadian, then add those fees onto the above as appropriate.

Fees are paid online on CIC's website here: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/fees/result.asp?countrySelect=GB&lob=fc

Fees can be paid online with a credit card. The credit card can belong to either the sponsor or the principal applicant (or someone else entirely), it doesn't matter.

Print out the receipt and include it with your application. If you plan on entering Canada later under Dual Intent (http://britishexpats.com/wiki/Spousal_Sponsorship-Canada#Can_I_wait_in_Canada_while_my_application_is_being_processed:_Dual_Intent), keep an extra copy of this receipt for that entry.

[edit] I want to move to Quebec. What changes with the process?

Almost nothing, just a bit of extra paperwork and fees for you to deal with.

Fill out the application forms as you would normally. Send your whole application to Mississauga, as per the instructions.

CIC will get in touch with you and will provide you with a PDF form that you use to request for CSQ (selection certificate) from MIDI, in Quebec.

Print out the PDF and fill out the CSQ forms on MIDI's website, and pay the fee. Send the checklist and all appropriate documents, including the letter from CIC requesting CSQ, to the appropriate address.

[edit] For some questions, I'll have to include extra information on a separate sheet of paper. How do I go about doing this?

For any questions where you need more space and include extra paper, at the top of each sheet, include the following:

  • The sponsor's full name and date of birth
  • The applicant's full name and date of birth
  • The form number to which the extra paper corresponds
  • The question number to which the extra paper corresponds

If the sponsor or the applicant has an existing UCI, that should also be included.

The paper should be placed in your application package immediately after the form to which it corresponds.

If one piece of paper has extra information for, say, three separate questions on the same form, then all questions can be included on the same piece of paper. However, don't combine questions from multiple forms on the same sheet.

[edit] I can't open some of the documents, I just get a 'Please wait' message on screen. What can I do?

If you are trying to open a PDF form via your web browser and via the link in the CIC website. On some or all forms you may get a message along the lines of:

Please wait......

If this message is not eventually replaced by the proper contents of the document etc. etc. etc. This is a common problem with the browser and adobe plugin combination and is easily overcome, all you have to do is to download the PDF and open locally on your PC. To do this, make sure you have a local copy of Adobe Acrobat installed on your PC, then:

  • Click anywhere on the document and a drop down menu bar should appear.
  • Click on the 'Save As' button (the button on the extreme right of the menu bar).
  • Select a location on your local computer to save the PDF
  • Close the browser
  • Open the saved copy of the PDF on your computer (double click on it or open Adobe PDF Reader first then open it).

Should work fine and allow you to enter data and save locally.

[edit] The Checklists

[edit] Which checklist should I be looking at?

There are 4 different checklists, depending on who you are sponsoring.

  • Checklist for spouse (including dependent children) [IMM 5533]
  • Checklist for common-law partner (including dependent children) [IMM 5589]
  • Checklist for conjugal partner (including dependent children) [IMM 5629]
  • Checklist for a dependent child only [IMM 5534]

Select the appropriate checklist for you.

This guide will only go into detail on sponsoring a Spouse or a Common-Law Partner, IMMs 5533 and 5589.

The two checklists are nearly identical. The guide will make it clear when a question is only relevant to one of the two checklists.

[edit] Sponsored Persons, Item 4 - how do I specify inland or outland?

This is the part of the application where you specify if you are applying inland vs outland.

If the Applicant is living inside of Canada and wants to apply as an inland applicant, then you must check the first box, "I am currently living in Canada with my sponsor, and I am applying under the Spouse or Common-Law Partner In Canada Class." Specify whether or not you are including an application for a work permit with your application.

If the Applicant is living outside of Canada, then you must check second box, "I am currently living outside of Canada, and I am applying under the Family Class."

If the Applicant is living inside of Canada and still wants to be processed through the outland process, then you must check the third box, "I am currently living in Canada, and I am applying under the Family Class (not under the Spouse or Common-Law Partner in Canada Class). I understand that I may be convoked to attend an interview at a visa office outside Canada."

[edit] Sponsored Persons, Item 6: Does my country have anything extra I have to submit? How do I know?

Use this link to check if there are any additional requirements for you based on your country of residence (note, residence, not nationality): http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/applications/spouse.asp#country

As of February 2017, there are no additional requirements for Applicants living in the UK or Canada, but double-check when you are applying in case this has changed.

[edit] Forms for the Sponsor

[edit] Application to Sponsor, Sponsorship Agreement and Undertaking (IMM 1344)

[edit] Application to sponsor and undertaking, Question 3: Do I have a co-signer?

If you are sponsoring a spouse or common-law partner, then no.

[edit] Sponsor personal details, Question 2: Nicknames, maiden name, alias, etc - What names do I include?

Only include names that you actually use in your everyday life. Obviously, include any legal names you have had, which would include your maiden name if you changed your name after you got married.

If you use a nickname and are known widely by that nickname (for example, Christopher going by Chris, or Nicole going by Niki), then include that. However, if you have a family nickname that only your parents or your other half calls you, you do not need to include that.

If you go by your middle name socially (for example, David George Smith, but you use George Smith or D. George Smith) then include that.

If you have another passport or citizenship where your name differs on that document (for example, a Chinese name), then include that.

[edit] Sponsor personal details, Question 6: What date do I put for the date I entered into my conjugal relationship?

There is a discrepancy between the guide and the form on this question. The guide says "If you are a common-law or conjugal partner, give the date you entered into that conjugal relationship." However the form just says conjugal, and when you select common-law from the drop-down in 6a, the date field in 6c is greyed out, so you don't need to worry about this.

[edit] Sponsor personal details, Question 8: What date do I put for the date I entered into my common-law relationship?

As per the guide, Enter the date (year, month, day) you were married or you entered into your current common-law or conjugal relationship, i.e. the date your status officially changed from being single to common-law, not the date you started living together.

If you started dating on 30 November 2013 and moved in together on 22 March 2015 then you would write 22 March 2016 on your form, as that's the date that you officially became common-law partners after one year of continuous cohabitation.

[edit] Sponsor contact information, Question 1: Can I use abbreviations in my address?

No. Don't even use "St" or "Dr", write out the full "Street" or "Drive".

[edit] Sponsor contact information, Question 6: Why doe CIC need my email address?

If you provide an email address, CIC will contact you using that address. If you do not, they will send letters to the address you provided. Obviously, email is easier. Write your email address incredibly clearly and ensure it's correct.

[edit] Forms for the Principal Applicant

[edit] Generic Application Form for Canada (IMM 0008)

[edit] Application Details, Question 6: I'm not planning on living in Quebec or applying for CSQ. What do I do here?

If you aren't planning on living in Quebec and thus will not be applying for CSQ then leave this part of the form blank, it's not required.

[edit] Personal Details, Question 2: Nicknames - which nicknames or aliases do I include?

See this question.

[edit] Personal Details, Question 3: What is a UCI? Do I have one?

Your UCI is your Unique Client Identifier. CIC will assign you one. If you have never had any dealings with CIC in the past, then leave it blank or write "N/A". If you have had dealings with CIC in the past (for example, an IEC or a TWP application), then you may already have a UCI. If you know it, include it.

[edit] Personal Details, Question 10: I am in Canada on a work permit (IEC, TWP, etc). What is my status?

You are a worker.

[edit] Personal Details, Question 13: When did I enter into my common-law relationship?

See this question.

[edit] Contact Information, Questions 1&2: I currently live in Canada, but I am applying outland. Do I put my Canadian address?


[edit] Contact Information, Questions 1&2: I am currently in Canada as a visitor. What address do I put?

Put your Canadian address for both addresses, and include a note explaining that you are currently in Canada as a visitor.

(NB, we used to advise putting your Canadian address as your mailing address, and your overseas as your residential address, since your country of residency was your overseas country, but as of March 2016 a number of applicants have had their applications returned for putting overseas addresses, hence the change and the point to include a note stating you're in Canada as a visitor... you technically don't have a RESIDENTIAL address in Canada, because you aren't a RESIDENT, so including the note makes it clear you aren't living in Canada illegally. Just a CYA situation, really.)

[edit] Language Detail, Question 3: Have I taken a language test for English or French. Do I need to take one?

No. Language tests are not required for spousal sponsorship. Bear in mind that this is a 'generic' form that applies to a number of different Canadian visa routes, in some of these a language test is required - but not for spousal sponsorship. So simply answer the question.

[edit] I have completed and validated IMM0008 but have spotted an error, can I just change one entry and print the affected page?

No. IMM0008 is a validated form. Once it is completed and validated, it generates a barcode page (which is scanned and decoded by CIC to populate your computer record at their end), it may be that the information you want to change or add is encoded in the barcode. It also generates a unique number on each page (at the bottom right of each page under the 'Canada' logo). If you print a new single page, the code on that page will not match the codes on all of the other pages and you risk at least a query and possibly a rejection. You will have to re-complete a new PDF from scratch, validate and print it.

[edit] Additional Family Information (IMM 5406)

[edit] Who needs to be included on this form?

All family members need to be included on this form regardless of whether or not they are accompanying you. The guide (IMM 5289) clearly states which family members need to be included on which sections of the form.

[edit] Section A: I don't know who my biological father is. What do I do?

Write "unknown" on the form, and on a separate paper, include details. Refer to your birth certificate not having the name of your father printed on it.

[edit] Section B&C: I have more than 5 children and/or 4 siblings, step-siblings, and/or half-siblings. What do I do?

Copy the chart onto a separate sheet of paper, and fill in as many additional lines as required.

[edit] Forms for both the Sponsor and the Principal Applicant

[edit] Relationship Information and Sponsorship Evaluation (IMM 5532)

[edit] Do (or can) the sponsor and the principal applicant each complete and sign their own IMM 5532?

No, this is one form that must be completed by both the sponsor and the principal applicant (who completes which section is indicated on the form). It must be signed / dated etc. by both parties in ink at the end of the form.

[edit] Part A, Question 1: Is it okay that I have periods of unemployment?

Yes, you just need to specify how you supported yourself. It's fine to write that you relied on your partner's income (e.g., if you're a stay-at-home-mom or between jobs), or if you survived off savings, or whatever. Just be honest.

[edit] Part A, Question 1: What exchange rate do I use for my foreign income?

Just use the current day's exchange rate, CIC is only looking for an approximate income.

[edit] Part A, Question 1: How do I indicate that I'm still at my current job?

Two options here.

Option 1: Write in the current date when you fill in the form, and include a separate piece of paper to explain that you are currently still employed at x company.

Option 2: After you have printed out the form, hand-write in "PRESENT" or "CURRENT" in the 'to' field. Generally speaking, this is the easier and less complicated option.

[edit] Part A, Question 5: I can't remember all of my addresses. What do I do?

Just write in as much as you can remember. Use Google Street View to help you out. Use your email history and past bills and other paperwork to find the information. Use postcode lookup websites if you know the address but not the postcode. Just try to be as thorough as you can. If you really don't remember, write as much as you can remember on a separate sheet.

[edit] Part C, Question 4: My sponsor and I live close to each other, and visit often. I don't know all the dates! What do I put?

Put exactly that. Explain that you live in the same city (or whatever) when you started dating, or close to each other, and that you visit each other regularly, far too often to list specific dates. This question tends to be geared more towards couples who were in long-distance relationships.

[edit] Part C, Question 7: Who should I include in this section?

The people closest to you, a mix of friends and family. Parents and/or children for sure, then pick a few other close family members or friends. Try to think of the most significant people you met and when that was.

[edit] Part C, Question 7: I don't remember the exact date that a particular person met my other half!

Just do your best to remember, CIC isn't going to reject your application because you got a date wrong by a week, it's immaterial. So just get as close as you can. Look back at emails and calendars to help you narrow it down.

[edit] Part C, Question 9: We didn't have any formal celebration to celebrate our relationship, and we are not married. Will this hurt our application?

No. It's not uncommon for couples, particularly western ones, to not have done this, so don't stress. It would also be fine to say that you are planning to get married in the future (if it's true!) and you will have your formal celebration of your relationship then.

[edit] Part C, Question 11: Should I provide more information about our relationship?

This question is very open-ended. It's up to you to choose how much to write in here, if anything, and if you think you've provided enough detail about your relationship. If there's something about your relationship that you haven't had a chance to communicate to CIC, then write it in here. Don't be too mushy or detailed, be sincere and provide enough information to make your point without going overboard.

[edit] Use of a Representative (IMM 5476)

[edit] Do I have to include this form?

Only use this form if you are using a representative to file on your behalf. Most often, this means your immigration consultant or lawyer.

If you are not using a representative, and you are filing on your own, then do not include this form, just make it clear that it is not applicable, and not omitted.

[edit] Authority to Release Personal Information to a Designated Individual (IMM 5475)

[edit] Do I have to include this form?

No, but if you want to request your GCMS notes later then it is suggested that the Applicant fills out this form allowing the Sponsor to request the notes. (Or if you want to skip this form then just have the Applicant request notes instead.)

[edit] Supporting Documents for Sponsor

[edit] Item 2: How do I prove I intend to return to Canada?

If you are already living in Canada, then write check 'No' and move on.

If you live outside of Canada, you have to prove your intent to return. If you have started planning your move, then include details of that. This may include things like contacting real estate agents, recruiters, booking flights, signing a lease, and so on.

However, a large number of couples who are living outside of Canada do not want to move back until their non-Canadian partner has PR, so that they can more easily apply for jobs. If this applies to you, then just include a detailed 'game plan' of how you want to move back. This may include details of recce trips, consulting/recruiting companies you have been in touch with, areas you may want to live, research of your job market, details of any Canadian bank accounts you may already have, FOREX currency exchange transactions you may have made and so on.

CIC wants to know that you have a game plan for when you move back. Where are you going to live? Where are you planning to work? And so on. If you are staying with family members or friends when you move back, it is helpful to get them to write a supporting letter stating that.

This thread has an example that may be helpful: http://britishexpats.com/forum/immigration-citizenship-canada-33/sponsor-question-form-imm5540e-849925/

NB: It is common to receive a request from CIC after you have applied for additional proof of your intention to move to Canada. If you get this request, just elaborate on what you provided when you originally applied, including any updated plans you have.

[edit] Item 3: Do you and the person you are sponsoring have a child together who may have a claim to Canadian citizenship?

See this question.

[edit] Item 5: I didn't file Canadian taxes last year, so I don't have a Notice of Assessment. What do I do?

If you did not file taxes in Canada in the last year, you cannot provide a Notice of Assessment.

However, the form says you can provide an equivalent document, so just provide whatever tax or income form you have from the country where you're working. For example, if you're in the UK, you can provide a copy of your P60.

If you previously have filed taxes in Canada, you can let CIC know when the last year was that you filed taxes, and if you have it, your Notice of Assessment from that filing.

[edit] Item 5: How can I prove financial support if I don't live or have a job in Canada?

For spousal sponsorship, there is no minimum income requirement. CIC request your income information because part of the sponsorship agreement is that you will be able to financially support your sponsored spouse for the three years. They do not require a minimum income for sponsorship, only that they can see that there is a plan in place and resources available for you to be able to fulfill the financial support of your spouse, in the event that they required financial assistance. If your income recently has been low, then you can demonstrate your spouse's funds and include letters of offered support from family supplements to show that you have a plan in place. You need to provide your financial ‘game plan’ on a separate piece of paper (make sure it is headed with the question you are answering and sign and date it).

  • Do you already have a job offer in Canada? If so provide a copy of the letter. If not, how will you look for a job and what steps have you already taken.
  • Where will you live when you get to Canada and how will you pay for it?
  • Do you have relatives in Canada (or elsewhere) and will they support you financially? If so, copies of letters confirming this from the relatives.
  • If you have relatives in Canada, will you be living with them initially? Provide letters from them confirming this.
  • What savings do you have and how long do you think they will last? Provide copies of savings statements.

Put yourself in the position of the CIC officer reading your game plan. Would it seem sensible, workable and properly thought through to you?

[edit] Supporting Documents for Sponsored Persons

[edit] Item 1: Who are my family members?

The items that request documents for your family members refers to your immediate family members - spouse (if you are not yet divorced) and children or stepchilden. It does not include siblings and parents. You must provide the requested documents for your spouse and children regardless of whether or not they are accompanying you to Canada.

[edit] Item 2: I only have a record of solemnization of my marriage, what do I do?

In some provinces including Ontario, the certificate you get on the date of your marriage, the record of solemnization, is NOT a legally binding document. All that document means is that a ceremony took place. The person who performed the ceremony sends off some paperwork to the province who officially register the marriage. This takes about a month. You can then apply for an actual copy of your marriage license, marriage certificate, or marriage registration. This is the legally binding document you must provide to CIC.

[edit] Item 2: I got married outside of Canada, is that ok?

Probably. Generally speaking, as long as the marriage was legal in the country where it was performed and it doesn't break any of Canada's marriage laws (can't marry an immediate blood relative, can't be married to more than one person at a time) then it's probably fine. Make sure you get all the relevant paperwork from the country that performed your marriage. Further reading can be found here: http://settlement.org/ontario/daily-life/life-events/marriage/will-the-canadian-government-recognize-my-foreign-marriage/

[edit] Item 5: Can I go to a UK photo booth to get my photos done?

No. There is a requirement to have the photos annotated with the photographer's name, address, and date the photo is taken. Unless a photo booth gives this information, you can't have it done there. In the UK, many places like Snappy Snaps and Timpsons do immigration photos, but be sure to take the photo specifications with you! Canada has many different routes for immigration and the photos vary depending on the route, so MAKE SURE your photographer is taking them to the right specifications! The specs can be found here: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/pr-card/apply-photos.asp

When your photos are done, put them in an A4 (i.e. large) envelope and clearly label the outside of the envelope stating the contents. It has been known for CIC to reject applications as being incomplete due to missing photos, which were sent but which they did not spot on their 'initial check'.

[edit] Item 7: We don't have a lease or utilities with both our names on it. What do we do?

CIC is very strict on JOINT documents that clearly show both people's names on them. They give you a list of 3 things to provide to show cohabitation, and you must provide two of the three from the list.

If your lease or home ownership document only shows one name, you should have it altered to bear both names.

If you are unable to alter the lease or ownership document, then you must provide at least one utility bill in both names. Giving two utility bills, one in each name, is not sufficient. The bill must be jointly in both names. In CIC's view, utility bills refer specifically to utilities: gas, electric, telephone, internet. A joint bank account would not qualify as a utility bill.

The other important documents just need to show that you live at the same address. Photocopies of your driver's licenses would show that. Individual bank statements being sent to the same address would also suffice, even if they aren't jointly held accounts (though that helps!). You can also include your work pay stub if it shows your home address, or any other important and 'official' document that shows the address.

[edit] Item 7 (Common-law only): My common-law partner and I are not currently living together. Is this ok?

You'll check 'no' on the question that asks if you are living together, and then you have to supply historic documents that show that you previously qualified as common-law partners.

[edit] Item 7: What photos should I include?

You can only provide a maximum of 20 photos, so pick carefully. Your photos should tell the story of your relationship - think of it as a photo essay of sorts. You don't need to provide 10 photos of the same thing when 1-3 photos gets the point across. Pick your photos carefully - pick some of just the two of you, but also pick photos that show friends and family. Photos from trips should be obvious that you are in the place you claim to be (e.g., if you include photos from a trip to Paris, chuck one in with the Eiffel Tower or Notre Dame, etc). Mix it up between posed pictures and candid pictures. Quality is more important than quantity in this one. You should aim to chronicle your relationship over however many years. If you are married, be sure to include wedding photos and engagement photos (if you have them).

[edit] Item 7 (Spouse only): Do I have to include a second copy of my lease or bills if I provided them previously?

No, just write a note referring to where the documents are held. You don't have to provide a copy of the same document twice. Just make sure the documents are clearly labelled and easy to locate. This applies to any of the documents you have provided in another section.

[edit] Item 7: What do they mean by proof of financial dependency?

If one partner is clearly supporting the other financially, then this is easy to provide. Proof of bank transfers is the obvious choice. If you and your partner are individually financially independent (e.g., both employed), then just show proof of your financial interdependency - both contributing to rent, to bills, to household purchases, to other large purchases (like a car or a pet), that sort of thing. You need to really show that your finances are intertwined - this is something that would set you apart from just a roommate.

[edit] Item 7: What documents show that we are recognized as each other's spouse?

Here CIC is looking for things in the sort of 'beneficiary' category. A few examples:

  • Life insurance listing the other as the beneficiary
  • Wills listing each other as the beneficiary
  • Medical instructions granting decision-making power to the other person (such as a living will)
  • If your job provides additional benefits, then the other person listed as your spouse/partner and covered under your benefits plan
  • Emergency contact or family contact information at your job
  • Car ownership and/or insurance papers listing both of you

And so on.

[edit] Item 7: What should the letters say? How many should I provide?

The letters from your friends and family should contain the following information:

  • The letter writer's relationship to one or both of you
  • The length of that relationship (unless it's obvious, for example, your aunt doesn't have to say she's been your aunt since birth)
  • Acknowledgement of the length of time you and your partner have been together
  • Confirmation that you have been living together since x date (if you are living together)
  • If you are married, the date of your wedding and whether or not they attended. If you are engaged, the date of your upcoming wedding and whether they plan to attend. Also include if the person holds or held any special role in the wedding (best man, maid of honour, etc)
  • If you have kids, their relationship with your kid(s), if it is relevant (like a godparent or named legal guardian in a will, that sort of thing)
  • Some personal thoughts about you, your partner, and your relationship

There is no specific template that must be used, but an example of a declaration that has been used by a BE member can be found here: http://britishexpats.com/forum/immigration-citizenship-canada-33/spousal-west-europe-information-guides-737129/#post9705980

In terms of how many, probably aim for between 5 and 10. Pick a mix of people - family members and friends from both sides. Letters can be written jointly (for example, your parents can sign one letter, they don't need to each write one).

[edit] Item 7: Do the letters have to be notarized?

CIC does not specify in their instructions that the letters have to be notarized. (There was a requirement under the old forms that at least two letters be notarized.) If you're in the UK, notaries only charge £5 per copy, so it's not exactly a big expenditure to have it done. In Canada you can expect to pay more like $50 or so. So it's not required, but if you want to have one or two notarized, then go for it.

[edit] Item 7: What can I show for evidence of communication?

You are limited to 10 pages of proof of communication, so be strategic and don't go overboard. What you need to prove is just ongoing communication. For example, pick 2 or 3 phone bills from the past year and highlight the parts that show phone calls or text messages exchanged. Search for your partner's email address in your email account and provide a screenshot showing the search results. If you use an online chat platform (Facebook, Skype, Hangouts, WhatsApp, etc) then just print a few screenshots showing a variety of different dates. Be aware of what content you're providing, CIC doesn't need to read your sexts. Use your judgement. Provide enough to get the point across that you regularly are in touch with each other.

[edit] What happens after I apply?

[edit] Sending in the application

[edit] How do I know I've prepared my application correctly?

All you can really do is check, double-check, and be thorough. Here are a few suggestions and things to consider:

  • Walk away from your package for a day or two so that you come back to it with fresher eyes
  • Consider having a friend or family member go through your package, since they are looking at it with new eyes and can see things that you may have overlooked
  • Review your application package back to front. You often end up memorizing some parts of the application without realizing it and thus it's easy to make mistakes and not spot them
  • Ensure every checkbox on the checklist either has a check or an N/A
  • Make sure all signatures are present and dated and that the right person has signed in the right place (some forms have signatures on more than one page).
  • Watch out for check boxes and signature boxes in the middle of forms or long sections of declaration wording which can be easily missed
  • Double-check on CIC's website that you have the most recent forms in your package immediately before posting as sometimes people download the forms but then spend weeks or months working on the package, and don't realize that a form from CIC had been updated in the interim. Your application could be returned if old forms are used and there was a material change between versions.
  • Arrange your forms in the order of the checklist, put your completed checklist on top, then put the generated barcode pages on top of the checklist (so that it is the very top page)

[edit] How should I send my application?

Three options: 1) Normal post, 2) Registered post using a national carrier, and 3) Courier service.

  • Normal post: This is the cheapest option if money is tight. It will also take the longest, and you won't know for sure that your application made it to CIC as there's no tracking.
  • Registered post using a national carrier: This is using something like Royal Mail or Canada Post. It's cheaper than a courier, but has its own drawbacks. Canada Post is known for being a bit slow, but if you are sending it from within Canada at least you have tracking. With Royal Mail, even if you send it tracked and signed for upon delivery, you can't track it once it's *in* Canada, but your online tracking will show when it arrived and who signed for it. Also worth noting that some parcels can get held in Canadian customs when sent through national carriers. It doesn't happen often but it's a risk.
  • Courier service: This is something like DHL, UPS, FedEx, etc. They're they most expensive, but they offer the most 'service'. You'll get tracking the whole way if you are sending the package internationally, and generally these services have their own customs clearance facilities so packages tend not to get held up.

Note that there are different addresses to use if you are sending via normal post vs using registered post or a courier service. The addresses can be found here: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/applications/guides/3900ETOC.asp#3900E6

[edit] Where should I send the application pack?

Note that ALL spousal sponsorship packs should be sent to the Canadian case processing centre. This has recently (as at June 2018) changed from Mississauga' ON to Sydney, NS. The full postal address is on the latest version of the document checklist - always check the address using the latest version of the form before posting (as CIC update the forms all the time and you should always use the latest versions). You do NOT send your application pack to the Visa office that you believe will deal with the PA assessment - ALL packs first go to Sydney, NS for sponsor assessment, they then send it on the local visa office once sponsor assessment is complete.

[edit] Once you've sent the application

[edit] What are the main stages and steps of the overall process?

[edit] Stage 1 - Sponsor assessment

This is carried out at the Case Processing Centre (CPC) that your were instructed to send the complete sponsorship pack to. This used to be Mississauga, ON. But this was changed in June 2018 to Sydney, NS. Their job is decide if the Sponsor meets the required criteria to be a Sponsor. If not, to advise you that the Sponsor has been refused. If so, then to request the medical on the PA(s) to complete the file before sending on to the local Canadian Visa Office (VO) that deals with the assessment of the PA based on their nationality (e.g. for a British PA, it would normally go to the London England). Typical timescales for this stage is 2 - 3 months.

  • CIC completeness check / AOR1

Usually around 2 / 3 weeks after receipt of the paper in the CPC, they will carry out a 'completeness check' of the whole pack. Checking that whatever is said to have been sent according to the checklist has been. This is a relatively 'crude' high level check purely intended to check that everything that should be there is. It is not a detailed comb-through of all the forms and answers, so just because a case 'passes' does not mean there will not be queries further down the line. If something material is missing, CPC will 'return' the complete pack in the post, you will not normally get an email. If the check is satisfactory, CPC will issue you an email acknowledging receipt (aka AOR1) and advising you of the UCI and Application Number etc. Following receipt of this, you should be able to link the application to your MyCIC account. It is highly unlikely that your application will be returned as incomplete once you have received AOR1.

  • Sponsor approval

The paperwork for the Sponsor is checked and if they meet the sponsorship criteria, they approved as sponsors. You will normally receive an email with a PDF attached saying that the sponsor has been approved. MyCIC and ECAS should also be updated. From receipt of the application to sponsor approval is usually between 2 to 3 months (sometimes quicker). It is not uncommon for other sponsors who submitted their packs after you to be approved before you and vice-versa - do not read anything sinister into this.

  • Request for medical(s)

CPC will request the medical(s) on the PA and other applicants. Once these are completed and linked, CPC will forward the pack onto the VO that deals with the nationality of the PA. However, because of the backlogs at the London VO, sometimes Stage 2 assessment is carried out at either Mississauga or Ottawa. You cannot influence where the pack is assessed and the criteria for what is assessed where in the event of London VO backlogs is not known. CPC should advise you by email of the VO they are sending it onto.

[edit] Stage 2 - Principal Applicant assessment

This stage is normally carried out in the local Canadian Visa Office that deals with the nationality of the PA. London VO is a large and very busy VO as it deals with many nationalities (i.e. not just UK citizens). As London VO can be very congested, sometimes specific cases are handled instead either in Mississauga or Ottawa at the complete discretion of CIC. This is the stage where the PA and their relationship to the Sponsor is evaluated. The sponsor may also be asked additional questions (e.g. they may feel the sponsor has not provided enough 'proof' or intent to move to Canada etc.). Typical timescales for this stage are between a further 4 - 6 months (some may take longer).

  • Receipt in local Visa Office

You should receive a second Acknowledgement or Receipt via email from the VO that is handling the PA assessment. This is also referred to as AOR2.

  • Eligibility checks in progress

This is normally indicated on both MyCIC and ECAS. This simply means they have started looking at your file. This may be weeks or a couple of months after AOR2. It may then take months before anything further changes.

  • Additional queries / additional information

At any stage, the VO may request further information both via email and via MyCIC. Often the additional information can and should be uploaded electronically through MyCIC. It is possible for CIC to ask for a new medical as medicals are normally only considered valid for one year.

  • Background check in progress

This is a good sign as it is normally the final stage in the assessment process. These are 'security checks' that CIC are making on all parties in the application. It can take anywhere from a couple of days to a few week, on average maybe 2 weeks.

  • Decision made

Notified by email and changes to MyCIC and ECAS. This is almost always a 'yes' decision. If it was a 'no' decision, there would have been plenty of earlier indication of this (requests for interview etc.). If the PA is visa exempt, they may have a request for an upload of a scanned image of the passport bio page (or they may not). If they are NOT visa exempt, they will be asked to submit their original passport so the visa can be added.

  • CoPR issue

The Confirmation of Permanent Residence (CoPR) is issued. It is sent in the regular mail (e.g. Royal Mail in the UK). Note that this will have an expiry date and you MUST land to declare PR on or before that date, or you will have to start the whole process again.

[edit] Will CIC confirm if my application has made it there?

Probably not. This is why it is HIGHLY recommended that you send your application to CPC-M as a signed and tracked package. You can use Royal Mail (signed and tracked all the way to delivery) or a courier service (DHL, UPS, FedEx, etc). This is the only way you will know for sure that your application arrived.

There is also a text service available for Family Applications (including Spousal Sponsorship) but it only confirms the mailroom has received the package: it doesn't confirm it's complete etc. http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/immigrate/sponsor/text-pilot.asp Please note, this has to be done prior to sending the application in!

[edit] CIC check your pack

Within a week or two of receipt, CIC will check your application for obvious errors or missing documents. If anything is obviously wrong or missing, they will return the entire application pack unprocessed. They will explain why they have returned the pack so you can take corrective action and re-submit. Common reasons for failing this initial vetting stage include:

  • Use of outdated forms (always check for the latest versions of the forms immediately before you send the pack in as they make updates at any time)
  • Missing 'country specific' forms or requirements
  • Incomplete or abbreviated addresses or missing postcodes
  • Certificates or other formal documents not in English or French and not translated by an officially recognised translator
  • Photographs not taken to the correct standards as specified by CIC

[edit] What will I hear from CIC?

This section is still being updated as we learn more about the forms, but the below seems to be what people hear and when.

The first communication you'll get (or second if you received AOR) is a request from CPC-M asking for some additional information. This may include IMM 5669 (aka 'Schedule A'), your police certificates, and/or your medicals, or other forms or information. You'll upload the requested forms through your MyCIC portal.

Note that IMM5669 (Schedule A) is now a validated PDF form that can be 'signed' electronically by the simple act of typing your name in the signature box - look at the declaration carefully and the last line actually says I agree that by typing my name, I am electronically signing my application. Once completed, validated, electronically signed, then saved, the form should be uploaded to CIC using the MyCIC portal. Some have reported that MyCIC is not always updated to allow an electronic upload, if that is the case then either upload using a CIC 'Case Specific Enquiry' or print, hand-sign and mail to the visa office.

The next communication you'll receive is your sponsor approval. The letter will include a bit more information about your application as well as some additional contact information.

Following that, the next communication you'll receive is a notification that your application has been forwarded to an office abroad for processing and it should state which office that is.

This link contains examples of the three letters outlined above.

[edit] How do I know which office will be processing Stage 2 of my application?

Once CIC sends your application abroad for processing, you'll receive a letter confirming the office that has your application. The office that your application goes to is based on either the citizenship or residency of the primary applicant. For the majority of people on BE, this will be the London office. In 2014, CIC started holding applications and sending them to one of London, Mississauga, or Ottawa for processing. Again, the letter sent to the sponsor will include details of which office is processing the application. (Note applications have not been held in London since mid-2015, but applications are still regularly sent to both Ottawa and London.)

See the link in the question above for an example of the notification letter.

[edit] When should I contact CIC if I have not yet received sponsor approval?

CIC's website states the current processing time for sponsor approval. You can find it here: http://www.cic.gc.ca/EnGLIsh/information/times/perm-fc.asp It will say that they are working on applications received on x date. Once that date passes, you can contact CIC to inquire as to your application.

[edit] My medicals are going to expire. Should I contact CIC?

This should be less common now that medicals are requested after submission of the sponsorship pack (they used to be required before submission).

If your medical is coming up to one year old, then contacting CIC doesn't hurt. When your medicals are about 4 weeks away from expiring, drop CIC an email and just flag it up. One of four things will probably happen:

  • 1) You will not get a response. Don't sweat it.
  • 2) CIC will ask you to get a new medical done.
  • 3) CIC will choose to extend your medical validity. They'll usually let you know how long they've extended the results for.
  • 4) If your application is nearing completion, CIC will ask if you can land by x date, and extend the medicals in line with that date.

[edit] CIC is asking me for new photos. Why?

In 2016 the photo specifications changed, so many 2014 and 2015 applicants are asked to send in new photos that comply with the new specifications.

Make sure you get the specifications correct by taking the sheet with you to the photographer. Also make sure that the photographer completes the details indicated in the CIC photo specification on the back of one of the photographs!

[edit] Can I wait in Canada as a visitor while my application is being processed?

Yes. See: Dual Intent

[edit] What's this I have read about case notes? What are they?

CIC is required to keep electronic case notes on all cases they work on, and they are required to release those notes of you through the Freedom of Information Act. These notes contain details of the progress of your application - application status, medical status, security check status, history of communication, and so on.

[edit] How do I order case notes? Should I even bother?

If your application is within the average processing time (as of May 2017, that's about 9ish months) then don't bother ordering your notes. Once you are over the average, though, notes can be useful in helping you determine if something is maybe outstanding with your application, or if your app is just stalled for whatever reason. In most cases the notes can be more frustrating and raise more questions than give answers... but some people find it useful. A handful of people have found out about requests for additional information that have gotten lost in transit or eaten by cyber gremlins, so notes have been useful for them.

You can order the notes using this site: https://atip-aiprp.apps.gc.ca/atip/ Be sure to include the permission form for the non-Canadian since information about both of you is contained on the file.

Ordering your notes costs $5, payable by credit card, and usually arrive 30 days after you order them.

[edit] All About eCAS

[edit] When can I log into eCAS to see my application status?

If you receive AOR, then usually 2-3 days after you receive it you are able to log into ECAS. Otherwise 2-3 days after you receive sponsor approval.

NB, if you have had previous dealings with CIC (e.g., you previously had an IEC) and already have a UCI then you may be able to log in before SA even without AOR. But it's trial and error as it just depends when CIC uploads your file to ECAS.

[edit] eCAS isn't letting me log in. Why not?

If you have already received AOR or sponsor approval, then you should be able to log in within 2-3 days. You may have to try different combinations of file number, UCI, and so on. In addition, if it's the principal applicant trying to log in, be sure they are selecting England/Scotland/etc as their place of birth, and NOT United Kingdom. (Yeah, we know, we know.)

There have also been a few isolated reports of people needing to include the hyphen in their UCI number in order to log in. You shouldn't need to include it, but if you are getting errors, then give that a shot.

[edit] I'm the sponsor, and I'm seeing two sections when I log into eCAS. What's going on?

The sponsor can see both sections of the application - the sponsor approval stage, and the permanent resident application stage.

[edit] I'm the principal applicant, and I can only see one section. What's going on?

The principal applicant can only see the permanent resident application stage section, and not the sponsor approval section.

[edit] What are the various statuses of eCAS?

Generally speaking, here's what you'll see in eCAS:

  • 1) Application received. This just means that, well, your application has been received.
  • 2) Medical results have been received. This means that your medical results have been received by CIC and matched up with your application.
  • 3) In Process. This means that CIC has started to process your application.
  • 4) Decision Made. A decision has been made, and CIC will be in touch regarding the decision.

[edit] eCAS hasn't changed from Application Received or Medicals Received in months! Does this mean they aren't looking at my application?

No. eCAS is notoriously slow in updating in a timely fashion. If eCAS updates to show a new status, then that's accurate. But if it hasn't changed, then it doesn't necessarily mean nothing is happening. There have been many, many people on the forum who have had calls or emails from CIC asking for additional information, so obviously their applications are In Process, but eCAS hasn't updated to show that. Others have even received COPR in the post before eCAS changes to reflect Decision Made! (This happened to one poster as recently as March 2015!) So if eCAS isn't changing, don't stress about it.

[edit] All about MyCIC

[edit] What is MyCIC?

In 2016, MyCIC was launched. It's sort of a "next generation" of ECAS. It's meant to be more accurate and gives a bit more information (slightly) than ECAS. Also sometimes referred to as 'GC Key'.

Note that both (or either) the sponsor and the principal applicant can link, but that each will only see the communications relevant to them. For example, the Sponsor will be advised of Sponsor Approval while the PA will not.

Equally the PA will be advised of additional requirements and have the ability to upload them via the portal (if applicable), the Sponsor will not be able to see details of requests to the PA. So ideally, both the Sponsor and the PA will create their own accounts and link to the same application, but in any event, it is probably more important that at least the PA has an account linked to the application.

[edit] How do I access MyCIC?

1. Create a MyCIC account.

2. Set up a GCKey account.

  • Bookmark the CIC sign-in page as this same page is used both to set up a new MyCIC account and to sign-in to your account once you have created one.
  • Click on the 'Continue to GCKey' button.
  • In the sign-in screen, click on the 'Sign Up' button on the right.
  • Pick a username, password, and recovery information.

3. Link your application to your MyCIC account.

Disclaimer: This part has been tricky and inconsistent for different users. To link your account, you have to enter a particular combination of information, and that set of information seems to vary person by person.

Note that you can link your application (or at least try to!) anytime from say 7 - 10 days after you know it was received in Mississauga, you do not have to wait for AOR (although AOR will give you the valuable additional information necessary for some linking methods, like application number and UCI etc.).

  • Log in to your MyCIC account (described above) in the ‘Welcome to GCKey’ screen.
  • In the ‘Welcome XXXX’ screen, click on the Continue button.
  • In the ‘Terms and Conditions’ screen, click the ‘I Accept’ button.
  • In the ‘Identity Validations’ screen, you are asked one of your security questions. Answer it and click on the ‘Continue’ button.
  • In your CIC Account screen, scroll down to the headings marked ‘Link an existing application to this account’ and click on the ‘Link application to this account’ button.
  • In the ‘Link Application’ screen:
    • Scroll down to the ‘category’ drop list and select ‘Permanent Residence’. This displays a Sub-Category.
    • In this sub-category drop list, select the correct sub-category (i.e., Family Class (Spouses)). This displays an ‘Application details’ section.
    • In the ‘Application Details’ section and in the 'Please select one' drop list, select the combination of data items you want to use to try to link your application. Most of them have been reported to work, but one has worked for many people is the 'Application Number and Family Name' option. See below for details on this.

There does not appear to be any magic best route with guaranteed success. Also note that there is a maximum of 5 attempts to link in any one 24 hour period allowed (although some have reported that it locks out after 4 failed attempts). You can of course have another 5 attempts the next day etc. But a logical approach to the various data permutations you use and persistence seem to pay off. Many people have made 15-30 different combination attempts over several days before they succeeded.

One of the oft-quoted ‘secrets of success’ seems to be to enter the bare minimum of information the screens will accept, rather than simply completing each and every field presented on the screens (you can use the 'failed validation warnings', so the red arrows that appear telling you what you have missed when you try to submit).

One particular route to success that several people have had luck with is the ‘Application number / Family name’ option:

  • Select the ‘Application number and family name’ option.
  • Chose number of applicants as 2 (i.e. the Principal Applicant and the Sponsor)
  • Enter the application number allocated by CIC and the family name
  • Hit the 'Submit' button. A validation error occurs
  • The validation red arrows indicate that only the birth details section is required (i.e. none of the passport section was highlighted - the drop lists for the passport sections were still available for editing however, normally the unnecessary fields tended to be greyed out and turned off).

The above is merely one example that succeeded for several people by a process of trial and error.

Once you successfully link the application, you will see a summary in your CIC ‘Account’ screen.

  • Scroll down into the ‘What would you like to do today?’ section
  • Further down there is a ‘View my submitted applications or profiles’ sub-heading. Your application for permanent residence appears here.
  • Click on the blue ‘check status and messages’ button to display tracking details.

[edit] What do the various statuses mean?

Item Statuses
Application / Profile Status Open
Review of eligibility Not started
Review in progress
Review of medical results Not needed at this time
Review in progress
We need medical information
Review of submitted documents Only refers to the review of additional documents that are requested
Scheduling an interview Not needed at this time
Need to schedule
Interview cancelled
Interview rescheduled
A background check is needed Not started
Not needed at this time
In progress
Final decision Not started
Application approved
Application refused
Application Withdrawn

Note that 'A background check is needed = In progress' is the final step before a decision (for outland applications). Early indications are that this final step takes day or weeks (i.e. not months). When 'Background check' shows as 'In progress', 'Review of eligibility' will also remain as 'In process' (this is not an error, since failure of a background check will affect eligibility).

[edit] How do I upload a document that has been requested?

The visa office may send an email asking you to upload additional documents or you may notice such a request as you check your MyCIC account (once you have linked your application).

Acceptable file formats are .tiff, .jpg, .png, .docx (latest MS Word format) or .pdf (Adobe Acrobat). Strongly advised to create PDF's of uploads. Official source is here:

CIC upload formats accepted

Do not forget that some of the documents (e.g. IMM 5669 - Schedule A) are validated, so you must complete them and validate them before upload (Schedule A does NOT now need a 'wet signature'). There are many on-line PDF converters and in the latest version of Windows there is a 'Microsoft Print to PDF' printer driver.

There is a maximum file size per file uploaded of 4Mb. You can reduce files sizes by changing the resolution to a lower / smaller setting.

To upload a file, access your MyCIC account and your spousal sponsorship application in the normal way (i.e. click on the 'Check status and messages' blue button. This displays the tracking stages page.

Then click on the 'View submitted application' blue button towards the bottom of the screen. This displays the 'Documents submitted by client' screen. In this screen should be a request for additional information from the visa office with a facility / button allowing you to upload images (JPG's) or PDF files. Please see screen print below of an example.

Once the required document has been successfully uploaded, it is important to note that it has NOT been actually sent to CIC. There is a further step required to actually submit the document. There is a little 'questionnaire that asks your security question and electronic signature and you must click on the 'Transmit' button. Then under 'details' it should say 'Replacement Provided' - it is only then that the documents have actually been sent and received by CIC.

It can be a bit 'hit and miss' as to whether the visa office enable the upload feature or not. If your screen does not look like the image above, then you cannot upload. You would be best to send the required documents by mail / courier instead or via a 'case specific query' to the appropriate VO.

[edit] If I have a representative, can I still link to MyCIC?

No, you can't. Only your representative can. You can however access ECAS.

[edit] Getting the final Decision Made and the COPR document

[edit] eCAS has changed to Decision Made / MyCIC shows a Decision Made of 'Application approved'... what does this mean?

We get asked all the time about what it means when eCAS changes to Decision Made (DM), but eCAS just says "CIC will contact you with regard to the decision" or something similar... this is standard jargon. For about 99.9999% of applications on here, DM is positive, particularly if you haven't had multiple requests from CIC for additional proof.

If MyCIC shows a Decision Made status of 'Application approved', then yay, your application has been approved!

[edit] When will I hear about the decision?

Generally speaking, you'll receive COPR in the post about 2 or so weeks after eCAS changes to DM. Sometimes COPR arrives within a day or two, sometimes it can take up to 6 weeks. If a month or so has passed and you haven't received your COPR after eCAS has changed to DM, then drop CIC an email asking for an update.

In some cases, CIC may request additional documents or new photos before issuing your COPR, even after your online status has changed to DM or Application Approved. So still keep an eye on your email, just in case. This is usually within a week or two following the change of your online status.

CIC only considers COPR lost after about 8 weeks have passed since DM.

[edit] How will CIC contact me?

By post. You'll either get your COPR or a rejection letter.

[edit] OMG! I have to wait for something in the post?! Is there any other way?

No. You have to wait for the document to come in the post. CIC will not email you the decision, and the call centre will not tell you the decision over the phone. You have to wait.

[edit] What will I receive in the post?

You will receive your Confirmation of Permanent Residency (COPR) in the post (IMM 5688). It consists of two copies of IMM 5688, one that you must present on landing (the one with the photo on it) and another which is a copy (the one without a photo on it). You should present BOTH on landing, you will be asked to sign both and they will give you back the one without the photo for your records.

This document is basically your proof to CBSA from CIC that you have been approved to be a Permanent Resident of Canada. It is NOT your PR card. You will not receive your PR card until you land and activate your PR.

If you are outside of Canada, then the COPR will be a signed-for document, so keep an eye out for a delivery notice slip from the postman.

Some applicants report that the COPR is a signed-for document within Canada.

[edit] How long will I have to land?

The COPR will have an expiry date on it. That date will be either:

  • One year from when your medicals were done
  • The expiry date of your passport

Generally, the date on your COPR will be whichever of the two dates above comes first.

CIC have been known to decide on an expiry date later than one year from the date of the medical to allow a sensible amount of time between COPR issue and COPR expiry for a landing - but this is at their discretion, you cannot request it.

[edit] My COPR says that it's not valid for travel... what does this mean?

All that means is that it is not valid as a travel document on its own - that is, you can't use it in place of a proper travel document (e.g., your passport).

[edit] My COPR says that I have to be able to provide proof of funds, if required. I thought family class didn't have any fund requirement!

Exactly. The same COPR document is used for all PR routes. Some require proof of funds, some do not. Family class does not, so you do not need to worry about this.

[edit] There's a mistake on my COPR. What do I do?

Contact CIC immediately. They are usually pretty good about sending out corrected forms. Verify all the information on the form is correct - in particular all names, birth date, gender, passport number, marital status, application class, place of birth and that the correct photo is attached. Other more minor information errors can normally be corrected by the CBSA official on landing

Note that the CoPR only shows the PA's firstname and surname. It does not show any middle name or initial. This is normal. It is not a mistake or anything that needs correcting.

[edit] The CoPR covering letter mentions form IMM 5785, but it was not attached. Do I need one?

No. If you read the wording on the covering letter carefully, it says that often the IMM 5785 is an 'electronic foil' only. Specifically it says 'this means that some of your family members required a counterfoil in their passports while others were issued CoPRs and electronic foils only'. So you would not receive a paper copy nor be expected to fill one out as no such paper form exists. It is either electronic (if you are from a visa exempt country) or the counterfoil that CIC would attach to a passport (if you are from a country that needs a visa).

[edit] Landing

There is an excellent article about landing here: http://britishexpats.com/wiki/Landing_as_PR-Canada

[edit] I have my COPR. Do I need an eTA?

CIC has published this on their website regarding COPR and eTAs: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/helpcentre/answer.asp?qnum=1184&top=16

According to them, no, you do not need an eTA if you are from a visa-exempt country and have your COPR in hand.

That said, some airlines may give you issues about it since many airlines and check-in clerks etc may not know what a COPR even is and their own guidelines may be incomplete or inaccurate. You might find it easier to just shell out the $7 for an eTA so that the airline doesn't give you any grief (it is possible that they could refuse to allow you to board the flight).

[edit] Do I have to land with my sponsor?

No, there's no requirement for the principal applicant to land with their sponsor, flying separately is fine.

[edit] But isn't there are landing interview that my Sponsor has to be there for?

No. There is a danger of confusing the procedures for Inland spousal sponsorship with Outland spousal sponsorship.

With Inland sponsorship, you are invited to an interview at a local CIC office with your sponsor and you have an interview. At the end of this if CIC is satisfied, they will 'land' you and activate your CoPR.

With Outland sponsorship, there is none of this. You can arrive at an official 'port of entry' (or if already in Canada under 'dual intent' you can book a landing at a CIC office, or flagpole) in Canada without your Sponsor and land to declare PR / activate your CoPR. There is no interview as such, just literally two simple questions.

[edit] I'm not ready to move! What do I do?

You simply have to land in Canada before your COPR expires; that is, you just have to cross the Canadian border to formally activate your PR. You can leave on the next flight out and move later, but your "PR clock" starts ticking when you land, NOT when you permanently move. More information on this can be found in the wiki article about Landing, linked above.

[edit] Do I have to have my Goods to Follow and Goods Accompanying lists with me if I'm not moving now?

Probably not, but it's a good idea to have them just in case you are asked for them when you land. Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it. Information about the Goods to Follow lists can be found here: http://britishexpats.com/wiki/Goods_To_Follow

[edit] Can I fly on a one-way ticket?

Technically, yes. Make sure you have all your documentation with you in your carry-on baggage as you will probably be asked for it by the airline. It's your proof that you will be allowed into Canada.

However, the airline might give you an issue about it, since, at the time of boarding, you are not yet a PR, and as stated above with the eTA, some airlines won't know what a COPR is, so you may find that they deny you boarding since you are not yet a PR. So until you actually become a PR, you might want to fly on a return ticket. (If you have a future trip planned to the UK, or elsewhere, then make your return ticket the outgoing portion of that trip, then fly back from that trip on a one-way flight, since you'll be a PR at that point.).

It is worth noting that for many airlines (but not all), a one way ticket can cost more than a return ticket. So you may actually be saving money to buy a return ticket and either cancel or simply not use the return ticket.

[edit] Contacting CIC

[edit] I have had a change in my family circumstances. Should I inform CIC?

Yes, you are required to inform CIC of any changes to your family circumstance that would not result in your application being withdrawn (e.g., divorce, death of the applicant, etc). This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Birth of a child
    • If the child is a Canadian, then no further action needs to be taken, other than you sorting out all their Canadian paperwork
    • If the child is not Canadian, then s/he needs to be added to your application
  • You applied as common-law and now you're married
  • etc.

[edit] I have moved. Should I inform CIC?

Yes. You need to inform CIC if your address changes.

[edit] How do I contact CIC in London?

Two options:

You can use either option to contact CIC, the enquiry goes to the same place. Pick one, and if after 4-5 days you haven't heard, use the other.

Be sure to include your file number, UCI, fee payment receipt number, and any other identifying information in your communication - just your name is probably insufficient.

[edit] How do I contact CIC in Mississauga?

Two options:

  • 1) Send them an email directly: [email protected]
  • 2) Call them on +1 613 944 4000. DISCLAIMER: If you do decide to call them, take any information you receive with a grain of salt. The CIC call centre is notorious for giving out duff information (and is often referred to as the CIC Mis-Information Line). Be very, very skeptical about what information you are given on the phone; only call them as a last resort.

Be sure to include your file number, UCI, fee payment receipt number, and any other identifying information in your communication - just your name is probably insufficient.

[edit] How do I contact CIC in Ottawa?

Send them an email directly: [email protected]

Be sure to include your file number, UCI, fee payment receipt number, and any other identifying information in your communication - just your name is probably insufficient.

[edit] At what point do I get my MP involved?

Only involve your MP if things with your case are starting to go pear-shaped. Do not go to your MP for "routine" questions, or anything that is not urgent - and consider an actual definition of "urgent", not your own definition! Your MP may not be able to do anything, but sometimes they can provide a bit of a shove to CIC, or may at least be a bit more successful in getting an update. But use your MP sparingly. If you use your MP excessively early on when you probably didn't need to, you will find it much harder to get your MP to act on your behalf later in the process when you may actually need their help! So be sensible with involving your MP.

Examples of when BE members have gotten their MP involved:

  • One member had not had sponsor approval after 5 months of waiting when the posted time for sponsor approval was 3 months. He had emailed and called CIC repeatedly and was not getting any answers. He got his MP involved who was able to determine that the application had been accidentally filed as an inland application instead of an outland application - big difference! The member was able to get his MP to intervene with CIC to have the application correctly refiled as an outland application.
  • One member's application had been in London for 15 months with no indication of movement, well above London's average of about 6-7 months at the time. She had contacted London numerous times through their email address and using the case-specific enquiry form, but had not received a response in weeks. She asked her MP to enquire on her behalf. The MP never received a response, but the applicant received COPR in the post a few days later. So we don't really know what happened there, or if the MP had anything to do with it, but she did get there in the end.