Twenty-five percent of holiday romances lead to a long distance relationship. What happens when a Canadian falls in love and marries a foreigner? Here’s what you need to know.

Can I bring my foreign spouse to live with me in Canada?
You can apply to sponsor your spouse or common-law partner under the family class program for conditional permanent residence in Canada. They will need to have medical, criminal and background checks. If they have a criminal record they may not be allowed into the country.

Do I have to get married first?
No you don’t. If you are not married, you do have to prove that you’ve been in a common-law relationship for 1 year. You’ll need documentation supporting that.

How long will it take?
It varies from cases to case. It can take several months up to a year.

What are the fees?
The application process costs $550 and $150 extra for each child (if any).

What happens when they get here?
Permanent residence is conditional. The government recently announced a probationary period of two years.  The marriage must last two years otherwise your spouse may be deported from Canada and you must wait five years before you are allowed to sponsor a new partner. Once here, your spouse may work or study and have access to health coverage and social benefits.

What are my obligations as a sponsor?
You must agree to be financially responsible for three years. If your spouse applies for social assistance, you will have to repay the money.

What if my spouse has children?
You may sponsor them also if they are under 22 and unmarried. But you need to agree to be financially responsible for them for 10 years or until they reach the age of 25 – whichever comes first.

What happens in the sponsorship application is refused?
About 20% of applicants are refused. If your spouse is refused you can appeal the decision. If you are refused because you do not meet the requirements (convicted of a violent offense, defaulted on child support, alimony, or immigration loans, in prison or bankrupt) you may not appeal and your spouse will not be able to come to Canada under the family class.

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