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How to prepare a Spousal Sponsorship application to avoid a refusal or to have it returned?

The Spousal Sponsorship application process is not just an administrative task but a complex journey that can be overwhelming and time-consuming. It becomes particularly challenging when the case is not straightforward and involves factors such as previous relationships, divorces, and child and spousal support. A typical spousal application may range from 120 to 150 pages, and with the requirement for document translation, it can extend to as many as 200 pages. This complexity underscores the need for professional assistance to navigate the process effectively.

It is public knowledge that many applications are fraudulent, submitted by people using the Spousal Sponsorship application process to obtain permanent residence status in Canada.  To avoid delays, procedural fairness letters, and to have an application returned or even refused, it is of utmost importance to submit a well-prepared and strong application that will be approved without any delays.  Often, when individuals endeavour to apply on their own, without the assistance of an immigration professional, the application may be weak and fail to convince the visa officer that the relationship is genuine or lack proper documentary evidence. As a result, the officer may request an interview with both partners, wherein a cross-examination method is usually used, issue a procedural fairness letter seeking additional evidence and explanation to dispel the officer’s doubt, return an application as incomplete, or outright refuse it.

What if the application is returned?

This occurs if your application is incomplete, and in this case, due to the resubmission, which will require a thorough review of the returned package, you will lose 2-3 months, and the processing time will start from the second submission.

Here are some reasons for returned applications

  • Incorrectly answering questions on various forms
  • Leaving blank or unanswered questions and not indicating “N/A” where applicable
  • Missing documentary evidence
  • Incorrect photo specification: date of birth or date the photo was taken, studio name was missed, or incorrect white space around the head
  • Mixing up the “Principal applicant” and the “Sponsor”

What if the application is refused?

I will take the liberty of blaming the IRCC to a great extent for the large number of refusals. The IRCC online instructions suggest that the process is simple and that assistance from an immigration professional is not required. While this may be true for straightforward applications, many applicants only realize the complexity involved after starting the preparation of their application on their own or after the application is returned or refusals. If an application is returned for being incomplete, the processing time will start from the date the application is resubmitted. Unfortunately, processing times are often lengthy, typically 12 to 24 months. Additionally, the processing times posted on the government website are approximate and subject to change.

An interview required

Applicants often become nervous and confused during the interview and, as a result, answer questions incorrectly. The immigration officer will take detailed notes throughout the interview and will refuse the application if the officer is not convinced that the relationship is genuine. If we were your representatives, we would be able to prepare you for the interview and hope to put you at ease during it. However, the entire interview is in your hands.

Procedural fairness letter

Suppose immigration sends you a Procedural Fairness Letter (PFL) requesting additional information or documentation. In that case, providing a detailed explanation letter and documentary evidence supporting your response to every question is imperative. Failing to provide this will result in a refusal. Should you find yourself in such a situation, it is strongly advisable to seek professional assistance to prepare your response and dispel the officer’s doubts. If an application is refused, the appeal, judicial review process, or re-submission will take considerable time.

Proving the genuineness of a relationship

The IRCC carefully scrutinizes the genuineness of every relationship to prevent marriage fraud for immigration purposes. If the officer is not convinced that the marriage is genuine, they will refuse the application and may ban the sponsored spouse from entering Canada for five years due to misrepresentation.

Some issues that the IRCC takes into consideration when assessing applications:

  • Co-habitation or lack of it
  • Length of the relationship
  • Differences in religion
  • Age difference
  • Cultural differences

Some other potential Issues

  • Open work permit not issued
  • Issues with police certificates
  • Issues with divorce records
  • Issues with children from a previous marriage (accompanying and non-accompanying)
  • Ex-spouse refusing to undergo the examine your non-accompanying children
  • Child or spousal support

Remember, the journey to reunite with your loved ones in Canada may present challenges, but with the right guidance, it is entirely achievable. As a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant, with many years of experience handling complicated spousal sponsorship applications, I am committed to helping you navigate the immigration process. Therefore, I invite you to book a consultation to discuss your application.

Two wedding rings

Will my Application be Approved, as I didn’t Have a Big Fat Greek Wedding?

It is a celebration for the families, as two people connect their lives, hopefully for the rest of their lives.  There is that extra layer of concern when one of the spouses is a foreign national, and eventually, that spouse will be sponsored.

There is a misconception that in order to sponsor your spouse, you need to have that “big, fat Greek” wedding or to have the entire village invited to make your spousal sponsorship application successful. Luckily, this is a misconception, which sometimes causes unnecessary stress.

You do not need to impress immigration officers with photos of your lavish celebration. While an extraordinary celebration might be nice, what really matters is the genuineness of your relationship.

You might have opted for a small, intimate ceremony, and your parents might have missed the big day.  Wedding glamour will not work if you will not be able to convince the officer that your relationship is real.  You need to demonstrate commitment to each other and not just become a permanent resident for immigration purposes.

Love takes centre stage in a spousal sponsorship application, and the documents play a supporting role. The documents submitted only as per the document checklist may not work, as every application is unique, and additional documents may be required. The genuineness of your connection is the key, regardless of what kind of celebration you had, while tying the knot.

If you need some assistance in your family sponsorship application, including complex ones, please book a consultation.

Family sitting together and talking

Here’s an Overview of our Process for Sponsoring your Family

  1. Eligibility Assessment: We start by meticulously reviewing your eligibility as a sponsor and that of your family members to be sponsored. This involves assessing the genuineness of your relationship (in spousal, common-law and conjugal applications), examining their legal status, and evaluating any other pertinent factors that might impact the preparation of the file, such as previous relationships and criminality, financial responsibility, previous relationships, divorces, spousal and child support obligations, to mention a few.
  2. Preparation of your Application Package: Once both parties’ eligibility is established, I will assist and guide you in gathering all necessary documentation, including documents specific to your application.
  3. Application Submission: We ensure that your entire application package is accurately completed and submitted to avoid any delays.
  4. Post-Submission to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC): We handle all communication with immigration officials throughout the processing period. I will follow up with immigration regarding the status of your application ONLY after IRCC has exceeded its processing time, as advertised on its website. Otherwise, immigration SHALL NOT respond.
  5. Interview Preparation: If an interview is required, I will provide extensive preparation to ensure that you and your family members are ready to present the case effectively and that they understand the process and what to expect during the interview.

Over the years, I have assisted many applicants with complex situations, including previous relationships, criminality, spousal and child support obligations, and I would be happy to assist you in your sponsorship application.

After you book a consultation, a questionnaire will be sent to assess the eligibility of the sponsor and the foreign national. I am here to help you!

pgp sponsorship

Parents and Grandparents Sponsorship Program 2020

The wait is over: on October 13, 2020, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) launched its much-awaited Parents and Grandparents (PGP) Sponsorship Program for 2020. Canadian citizens and permanent residents 18 or over who wish to sponsor their parents and/or grandparents to come to Canada may now submit an interest to sponsor form online.

The interest to sponsor form will stay open until 12 p.m. EST on November 3, 2020. After the submission period is over, IRCC will perform a draw to randomly select 10,000 potential sponsors from the received and verified entries, who will then have 60 days to submit a full sponsorship application. 

Persons with disabilities who are unable to submit their expression of interest online will have to request an alternative format of the form (paper copy, Braille or large print) from the IRCC Client Support Centre at 1-888-242-2100 or by email by/before November 3, 2020.

What Is Important To Know

For those planning to sponsor their parents and/or grandparents:

  • It is a draw. The online interest to sponsor form is only a lottery entry showing an intention to sponsor. The draw performed by IRCC at a later time will determine who will be able to submit a full application.
  • Only one form per sponsor is allowed; duplicate entries will be removed before the draw. 
  • If there are discrepancies in the information on the interest to sponsor form and a subsequently submitted full application to sponsor, the application may be rejected.
  • If a mistake is made on the form, look up how to deal with it in the instructions on IRCC’s website. DO NOT submit a duplicate form (see above*).
  • The onus is on a potential sponsor to prove that they satisfy the eligibility requirements for being a sponsor, including the minimum necessary income requirements.
  • It does not matter when a potential sponsor completes the online form, as long as it done while the submission period is open.
  • New this year: due to the financial hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic, the minimum necessary income for the 2020 tax year will be calculated without the additional 30%. However, the 2019 and 2018 tax years are still subject to the 30% addition to the minimum necessary income. This temporary public policy does not apply to sponsors residing in Quebec, as this province has its own financial requirements, different from those of IRCC.
  • A confirmation number will be issued when the form is successfully submitted — save it for checking the winning entries later on.

What Else Is New This Year

Canadian siblings who would like to sponsor the same parent are allowed to submit one interest to sponsor form each for the same parent; their forms will not be considered duplicates. 

*Removing duplicates: 

In prior years, duplicate entries resulted in all entries found for a particular applicant being removed, thus preventing the sponsor from participating in the draw, while this year, only the last entry will be kept. We would strongly caution against submitting multiple forms, since the content of the website does not have the authority of a law — would you rather risk a refusal? A federal court appeal is a complex and costly endeavour. We have requested policy clarification from ICCRC — stay tuned and check our website for updates, as we will post the answer. 

So, to sum it up, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of this year’s PGP program.

The Good 

  • With the immense financial burden of COVID-19 measures, easing the income requirements for prospective sponsors for the year 2020 is a laudable measure: those with income affected by the pandemic will not be disqualified from sponsorship for three more years; also EI for 2020 can be included in the total income.
  • Also new this year: Canadian siblings who would like to sponsor the same parent will be able to submit one interest to sponsor form each for the same parent: it is not considered a duplicate. It takes a lot to raise a child: this may be a good time to collect dividends on parental efforts. 
  • The submission period lasts for three weeks, so everyone interested in sponsoring could have an opportunity to participate.

The Bad

  • The quota for this year is only 10,000 sponsor slots (though next year IRCC promises to increase it to 30,000). 
  • From the “first come —first served” concept, IRCC returns to the draw again, claiming their commitment to fair and equitable treatment of all Canadians and permanent residents. Is it indeed fair? Obviously, when demand far outweighs supply, there will always be winners and losers, discontent and frustration, regardless of the system. But in a well-functioning democracy there should always be a certain expectation of public services and a way to gauge its performance — something that cannot be replaced by a lottery system. From a psychological prospective, the certainty of having your loved ones with you in Canada prevails over the prospect of lengthy backlogs — something to consider, given that some potential sponsors may wait even longer to win the PGP lottery or never be selected altogether.

The Ugly

  • As previous “PGP lottery” experience has shown, many potential sponsors who were later selected submitted their interest to sponsor forms without meeting the qualification requirements. Each such instance is a wasted spot — when a sponsor is found ineligible, the spot is not released back in the pool. Even with a two-stage draw from sponsored parents and grandparents was 17,000, while 20,000 spots were announced to open. This means three thousand loving family members who were not able to reunite with their children and grandchildren — and with this system may never succeed. This could easily be prevented by a very simple intake management of the interest to sponsor form, such as adding fields like “enter your income on line 150 of your 2019/2018/et cetera tax return” and not allowing ineligible applicants to proceed further when the number is below the threshold. This does not require advanced computer knowledge or significant resources. All it takes is the political will to do so. 

Conclusion

If you are planning to sponsor your parents and/or grandparents to Canada or any other immigration category, Milmantas Immigration will be happy to help you prepare a complete, persuasive application that meets all requirements and verify if you are eligible at the first stage. Contact us at info@milmantasimmigration.com.

Sponsoring Parents and Grandparents – Another Draw May be Conducted in August or September

At the latest Canadian Bar Association conference, a representative of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) advised that another draw may be conducted to invite more individuals to apply to sponsor parents or grandparents to immigrate to Canada through the Parent and Grandparent Program. The second draw may be conducted in the coming months. “Probably in August or September we’ll take a tally and see how many more spaces are left in the 10,000 cap, and there’ll be another round of people invited to apply,” the IRCC representative said.

In January 2017, IRCC started a newapproach to sponsor parents or grandparents. A two-step process was introduced, which required individuals to indicate their interest to sponsor by submitting an interest to submitting completing an interest to sponsor form online between January 3 and February 2. Then on April 25, 10,000 potential sponsors from the pool of 95,000 were randomly invited to submit a sponsorship application within 90 days.

The immigration department confirmed that as of June 8, only 700 applications had been received from invited sponsors. Moreover, 15 PERCENT WERE INCOMPLETE.

“If the department does not receive the 10,000 new applications within the stipulated timeframe, additional persons will be invited to apply [from] a randomized list,” a spokesperson from IRCC said. “If we don’t receive COMPLETE APPLICATIONS we will go back and draw from that existing list.”

Please contact us for assistance to have an impeccable application prepared!

parents and grandparents sponsorship to canada

Parental Sponsorship Frustrations Abound

   Overhaul of the Parents and Grandparents Sponsorship (PGP) Intake System

    With the very same M.O. with which it does everything else — with a lack of transparency and likely without much research — more like a kneejerk reaction — the Canadian government announced an overhaul of the Parents and Grandparents Sponsorship (PGP) intake system at the eleventh hour on December 14, 2016, turning it into a lottery, while thousands of Canadian children and grandchildren were getting ready to submit complete, perfected applications.parents and grandparents sponsorship to canada

   Between January 3 and February 2, Canadian citizens and permanent residents willing to sponsor their parent or grandparent have to fill out a simple online declaration of intent to sponsor form, where only their name, date and country of birth, residential address and e-mail address are entered. After February 2 IRCC will “randomly” draw 10,000 individuals who will be asked to submit the full application within 90 days.

   It is true that under the old “first come, first served” system, the first 10,000 sponsorship applications arriving at the Mississauga, Ontario IRCC processing centre were accepted before noon on the very first day it opened. And the public lamented that some couriers could not deliver within this time frame to guarantee acceptance for further processing. Reportedly, some paid hundreds of dollars for alternative courier services to ensure that their application would be among the first to arrive. Not sure where the media got accounts of people camping there overnight because Mississauga CPC does not accept walk-ins — commercial couriers only.

   However, this only demonstrates that the number of people who want to come into the country surpasses by far the quota of 10,000 applications per year allocated by the IRCC. At least the system was transparent and rewarded advanced planning in terms of preparing all the documentation in advance and picking a local courier — and yes, it did give preference to “shopping locally”; local couriers who knew how to structure their businesses had their field day on the opening date. Some couriers advertised advanced pickup to ensure delivery on time. Some couriers charged by the hour, like a taxicab, waiting until the package was signed off, but mostly it cost in the vicinity of $60 to $120 for a local delivery, which beats the monsters — DHL, Fedex, UPS and the like — both in price and in delivery time guarantee. Of all our files submitted with a local courier last year, every one of them was delivered within an hour or so after the CPC opened. Of course, this meant that the application package had to be completed by Christmas and already received by the local courier — no matter where the sponsor lived in Canada — which assumed a great degree of responsibility, advanced planning and, obviously, that all instructions are followed..

     Politically, turning the old system into a lottery may seem like a neutral decision, especially when the government is touting “savings” for the general public in courier fees and making the change under the guise of convenience and equality. However, there are many ways in which this decision is, indeed, wrong, the main one being lack of transparency and accountability, followed by discounting the responsibility of those who practice immigration, and generously wasting, in fact, the time and financial resources of those Canadians who already took care of everything by December 14 and now will have to spend more time and money redoing something that they have already done. Obviously, small Canadian businesses (read: couriers) will not be happy either, as they will lose all the business for that fruitful day after having budgeted their resources (what happened to “shop locally” slogans?…).

    The pretext of saving the money of “poor” Canadians being forced to pay couriers is absolutely ridiculous. Really, IRCC? Does the general public know that those considered “poor” cannot sponsor their parents — i.e., their level of income has to be guaranteed at 30% more than the LICO (low income cut-off), which itself is much higher than a minimum salary? A family of 4 in a small town earning $80,000 a year is not poor by any standard and can well afford not only a courier fee but also to pay representation in order to make sure that the application is not rejected based on a technicality when it is already in process (official stats show that most applications in the pipeline are represented, i.e. filed by professional immigration consultants and lawyers, which, given how the government works, might not be such a bad idea if an applicant wishes to avoid disappointment).

    Could it have been done better? Yes, by doing only one thing — announcing the change early, when it was still in the works. It is irresponsible, plain and simple, to wait till the last minute; there is no rationale for NOT having announced it while it was being planned: we all know that the government works slowly, so everyone concerned would have had time to react in their own way to alleviate their own concerns. A spokesperson for IRCC said that the Department “had been looking at how best to manage intake and were working to build the tools to implement this process” before announcing the change. So what took them so long? It is not like they did not know exactly what they have been implementing. Thus, I really do not see a single valid reason why they could not have announced the plans earlier. Say, during the Immigration Law Summit in November, or during an industry/stakeholders roundtable. Even those IRCC officers invited to constituents meetings by Liberal MPs did not bat an eye. Could it be for fear of open protests and filing injunctions? If so, stealth served nothing, since there is already a petition in Parliament requesting that the system be returned to its old ways for this year’s intake: https://petitions.parl.gc.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-739.

    Would some people still be unhappy if IRCC announced the change much earlier? Of course, but unhappiness in general would not have resulted in the additional injuries of wasted time, ruined expectations and financial losses: stories of now-deceived sponsors and applicants abound in many publications, including City TV News and the pro-liberal Toronto Star.

Is this way fairer, as we have been led to believe?

In general terms, probably, yes; however, despite assurances, some questions are still burning, because there is no process description or detailed explanation, let alone an algorithm on how the initial selection will be made:

1. Why does the initial form have a country of birth? Aren’t name, DOB and address enough? Does this mean the system has a built-in ability to restrict access by the country of birth?

2. How will the quota be calculated after 90 days? Will those who randomly put their names in but aren’t in fact qualified be replaced by new candidates? Will those additional candidates be selected in a new draw? Does this mean that there will be two draws? More draws? It only seems fair to do so, but the government remains mum on this.

3. The operation bulletin says duplicates will be eliminated. All of them, or just “duplicates” — i.e. will those who put their names in several times be disqualified or not?

4. What if a Canadian wants and can afford to sponsor both their mother and father but their parents are divorced? If the sponsor’s name is drawn, does this mean they could file two applications for both parents, or only one?

5. How come “family reunification,” as “an immigration priority for the Government of Canada,” got relegated to a lottery, which is tantamount to gambling and considered to be a social vice?

6. What is going to happen when one of the parents dies and the other remains all alone, and the sponsor remains unlucky for several years in a row?

Stay tuned: we have sent these questions to the IRCC policy officials and we will keep you posted.

   Was the old system so bad? For sure it was not simple, and it encouraged creative thinking, because of intense competition. But then again, most of the federal and provincial immigration programs are first come, first served. Many PNPs open and close their intake for some streams the same day. Low IEC quotas for some countries mean that the whole online submission process takes less than half an hour. And who complains? No matter how you manage intake, there will still be far more interest than capacity. Canada is popular — and is well worth an extra effort; better get used to it. And because free enterprise is always more flexible than bureaucracy, we will always be offering more than one way to get in for those who understand the system and are well motivated to make Canada their new permanent home. Fasten your seatbelts and make yourselves comfortable: we are in for a long haul.

Please call us, should you wish us to assist with your applications.

Julia Brodyansky, RCIC