Is there a “First Stage Approval” during Spousal Sponsorship?

Published on: February 6th, 2024
Last updated: February 12th, 2024

The spousal sponsorship process in Canada encompasses several stages, which have undergone various changes over time. Additionally, the names of the steps in the process have evolved. Families navigating through these stages aim to reunite with their loved ones. It is essential for them to comprehend the intricacies of each stage, given the significant and emotional nature of this immigration journey. Gain insights into navigating these stages and stay informed about the evolving terminology here!

Spousal Sponsorship Free Assessment

From the initial gathering of documents for the application package to the eventual receipt of an IRR response regarding permanent residence, families must adhere to documentation requirements, address potential challenges, and stay informed about policy updates throughout the entire process of a spousal sponsorship application.

The ultimate objective is to secure permanent residence for the sponsored relative, fostering family unity within the Canadian context.

Stages of Spousal Sponsorship in Canada

Previously known as ‘first stage approval,’ the first stage in Spousal sponsor ship, now involves receiving an Acknowledgement of Receipt (AOR) from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

This Acknowledgement of Receipt holds significant weight, as it not only marks the commencement of the evaluation process but also serves as an indication that you have successfully met the eligibility requirements for your sponsorship application and affirms that your application is officially in progress.

During the first stage, IRCC assesses the sponsor’s eligibility based on factors such as their relationship with the sponsored person, financial capability to support them, and compliance with sponsorship requirements. If the sponsor meets the eligibility criteria, a positive decision is issued, signifying approval to sponsor their spouse or partner.

It’s crucial to note that this first stage of approval does not constitute the final decision on the overall spousal sponsorship application.

I received a letter stating, ‘You have been approved in the first stage of processing.’ What comes next?

Successfully passing the first step allows the process to advance to the second stage, which focuses on assessing the sponsored person’s eligibility and admissibility to Canada. This phase entails meticulous scrutiny of supporting documents, including medical examinations and security checks, and ensure that the sponsored person is suitability for permanent residence in Canada and that the relationship is in fact a genuine relationship when there is no marriage or legal documents to prove it.

If you want more information about how to gather supporting documents to prove that your common-law relationship is real and genuine, read our full article here: How to Prove Your Common-Law Relationship

Also, it’s crucial to understand the distinctions between Inland and Outland Sponsorship classes, two similar yet slightly different processes, each with its own set of stages. Inland Sponsorship is suitable for couples where the partner is already residing in Canada, necessitating the sponsored individual to stay in the country throughout the entire application process. The couple must be cohabiting and classified under a Spousal relationship or Common-law. On the other hand, Outland Sponsorship is designed for those whose partners are living abroad, allowing the sponsored individual to be outside Canada during the application. This flexibility permits the sponsored party to leave the country as needed. If you’re intrigued by the details and want to explore further, read the full article: Inland & Outland Spousal Sponsorship in Canada, and make an informed decision about the best sponsorship option for your circumstances.

Final Steps and Canadian Permanent Residency

If your application is approved, you will receive instructions on how to complete your process to become a Canadian PR and thereafter receive your PR card. In that case two crucial documents are sent to the applicants: the Confirmation of Permanent Residence and, if necessary, a permanent resident visa.

Sponsored Relatives Outside Canada

The Confirmation of Permanent Residence serves as an official approval document, while the visa is provided for individuals from countries requiring it for entry into Canada, irrespective of their current location.

Upon receiving these documents, your family members can commence their journey to Canada, but it is essential to check the expiry dates on both the permanent resident visa and the Confirmation of Permanent Residence. Before these documents expire, your family members must meet with a Canadian immigration officer at a designated port of entry. The officer will conduct a final assessment and make the ultimate decision to grant entry into Canada as permanent residents.


Application Refusals

Once a decision is rendered, and in the event of a refusal, you have the option to request the notes from the visa officer. This will provide additional insights into the reasons behind the decision. Alternatively, you can choose to engage the services of a lawyer who can offer guidance on the appeal process.


Ready to embark on your journey to Canadian Permanent Residency through the spousal sponsorship program? Begin with our free online assessment! Let our dedicated Immigration Attorney meticulously evaluate your profile, they will reach out to discuss your eligibility. Your path to a seamless spousal sponsorship application process starts today!

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