An overview of the Canadian spouse and partner sponsorship process under general law for Hong Kongers and the Canadians who love them. (Pixabay photo)
If you are Canadian and would like to sponsor your Hong Kong spouse or partner for Canadian immigration, the first thing you need to do is check to see if you are eligible.
As a sponsor, you must be a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, or First Nation over 18 years of age. You’ll also need to sign a commitment to certify that you are financially responsible for yourself as well as your partner and any dependent children you have. If your loved ones end up on welfare, you may have to repay what they received over the years you agreed to provide for them.
In certain circumstances you can no longer be approved as a sponsor. In addition to violent crime, you could also be ineligible if you haven’t paid an immigration loan, go bankrupt and are not released, or if you sponsored a former spouse within three years of your application. These are just a few of the factors that can affect your eligibility to sponsor.
If you are an affiliate of a Canadian you must also be eligible to be sponsored. You must be over 18 and pass background, safety, and medical exams. Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will check that your relationship is real, and not just tied the knot to obtain permanent resident status in Canada.
See if you are eligible to sponsor a spouse
Outland vs. Inland sponsorship for Hong Kong residents
If you live in Hong Kong while you and your Canadian partner are going through the sponsorship process, you will be considered an overseas applicant. It is possible that your Canadian partner will live with you in Hong Kong throughout the process. However, you will need to show that you are both moving to Canada if you are approved for permanent residency.
If you live in Canada with your partner, you will likely be processed as a domestic applicant. If you’re applying within Canada, you may be eligible for an open work permit.
Hong Kong residents also have other options for getting to Canada. In 2021, Canada began developing dedicated immigration routes for Hong Kong residents. In February, the IRCC launched an open work permit for Hong Kong residents who have studied in a post-secondary institution. Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, Hong Kong residents outside of Canada must be exempt from entry. Spouses and partners under general Canadian law are exempt, but must comply with other public health measures.
What documents do you need from Hong Kong?
The IRCC changes the guidelines regularly. The instructions for foreigners depend on the status of residence you are applying from and possibly even your travel history with your Canadian partner. The government is providing an application guide with more specific and timely information.
For Hong Kong residents living in Hong Kong, there are currently special instructions for documents on the IRCC’s document checklist. At the time of this writing, the IRCC has requested individuals born in the People’s Republic of China since 1996 to submit a notarized copy of the original medical birth certificate. If this concerns you and you are unable to provide this document, you must explain why in your application.
Hong Kong passport holders are required to provide the household register labeled “Hukou” and proof of marital status for children aged 16 and over.
If you were divorced in Hong Kong, you will need to present an “Absolute Nisi Decree”.
What happens after you submit the application?
Processing begins as soon as IRCC has received your complete application. If the department determines that your application is incomplete, it will be returned.
IRCC has a 12 month spouse sponsorship application processing standard. In March 2021, Canada expanded its family sponsorship processing capacity to meet this one-year standard.
During the processing period, the IRCC asks the foreign spouse for biometrics and a medical examination. You have 30 days to send them in. The IRCC can request further information or a personal interview at any time.
You can track and update your application status online until IRCC makes a decision on your application. The IRCC will send you instructions on the final steps the foreign spouse or partner must take under common law to obtain permanent residence.
The final step is to complete the landing process and then you are officially a permanent resident of Canada.
See if you are eligible to sponsor a spouse
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