Getting a Filipino spouse to Canada requires a bit of effort on the applicant’s part. Not that the process is a walk in the park, but at the same time, it’s not impossible. It’s not so much a question of how difficult or easy it is, but rather how fast one can complete the application process. While the process does take a while, the waiting time is reduced if an applicant follows the ideal process.
The Canadian spousal sponsorship program is available for Canadian permanent residents and citizens who want to bring their Filipino spouses or common-law partners into the country. Regardless, they all must meet the eligibility conditions, which in turn depend on several factors. So, how does this process work? Let’s find out in this guide.
What Makes Spousal Sponsorship Different for Filipinos?
As much as any Canadian immigrant or citizen married to a foreigner is conversant with the spouse visa application, it gets different when the partner is a Filipino, and here’s why. The Philippine government is strict on international marriages. In fact, foreigners who intend to tie the knot with Filipinos are required to get “Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage” from their embassies.
The document proves that a foreigner is free to marry a Filipino without violating any international law. This has been a requirement for several years now and will continue that way in the foreseeable future. If that’s not stringent enough, the Filipino partner would have to submit a recent Certificate of No Marriage Record, also known as Certificate of No Impediment (CNI).
The certificates come in handy when applying for spousal sponsorship. Next comes the marriage license, which has a 120-day validity period after issuance. The Filipino spouse obtains this document from the Local Civil Registry Office (LCRO), located within the municipality of residence. However, to do that, the individual must present:
- Birth certificate, alongside the CNI
- Character reference letter
- Valid identification (at least two)
- Letter of consent for marriage (if the applicants are within 18 and 21)
- Pre-marital counselling certificate or certificate of family planning
- Foreign partner’s passport copy
- Community tax certificate or Cedula
These requirements are in place to ensure that both parties are in a marriage for the right reasons. Those who have cohabited for over 5 years don’t necessarily need the marriage certificate, provided that there are no legal complications.
Visa Application Prerequisites for Spouses
A sponsor is required to meet the following conditions:
- Be at least 18 years old, as required by the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations
- Be residing in Canada
- Be in a genuine relationship with the applicant, as per the definition of a “spousal relationship”
- Have the required finances to support the immigrant spouse
- Pass a police check, which contains information about the individual’s record
- Present proof of Canadian citizenship or permanent residence
- Received no spouse visa sponsorship in the past five years
The sponsored spouse must also meet the minimum age requirement, be committed to the relationship, and be admissible to Canada. A Canadian who has sponsored a previous spouse isn’t permitted by law to sponsor another person within three years of the former partner becoming a permanent resident.
Vetting Spousal Relationship for Visa Approval
Since it’s a very close-knit society, the Canadian government considers marriage between a Filipino and a Canadian citizen or permanent resident as legitimate. Still, it doesn’t mean that the partners automatically get a free pass, as the authorities take the visa applicants’ personal situations into account. They scrutinize the marriage to ensure both parties are in it for the long haul to prevent immigration fraud.
The immigration officials evaluate specific details based on whether both parties are married or common-law partners. Couples who are common-law may require proof of cohabitation, such as paying the bills in the name of one another, sharing a home, and joint bank accounts. Married couples, on the other hand, can easily present their marriage license, wedding photos, phone records, and other documents.
To ensure that the relationship is genuine, there must be no evidence of abuse or domestic violence, such as a police report. To further prove that the applicant is in a genuine relationship with the sponsor, they must share information like birthdates and addresses. Whereby the immigration authorities detect a red flag, they’ll conduct further investigations to confirm the validity of the relationship.
Applying for a Canadian spouse visa isn’t a once-and-done process. The applicant must ensure that the documents provided are accurate, so the Canadian Embassy or Consulate can make an informed decision. It usually takes about a year to process a spousal sponsorship application. During this period, the sponsor only needs 39 days to validate their eligibility.
However, if the applicant is in Canada at the time of application, then the processing time is reduced to 8 months. But then, the sponsor undergoes verification within 4 months. The government also has the option of issuing temporary visas or extensions of stay when necessary. To successfully sponsor a Filipino spouse to Canada, it’s best to work with a reputable immigration agent to guide the way. They’ll ensure that the applicant has the necessary requirements, so the process runs smoothly.
Full Integration into the System
Upon successful verification, the government issues the applicant a PR visa. It could take another three years of steady living in the country for the new immigrant to become a Canadian citizen. But then, this depends on the individual’s record during residency, language proficiency, and knowledge of the country.
Filipinos can integrate into Canadian society easily, given that English is the country’s official language, other than French. The experience gets even better as they acquaint themselves with the culture, customs, and heritage of the society. They enjoy the same rights and privileges as other citizens.
The process of sponsoring a Filipino partner via the spousal visa program isn’t a cakewalk. However, by choosing the right channel and complying with the immigration requirements, immigration is possible. It also helps that the government has made the process transparent so the applicant can anticipate necessary steps. An immigration consultant thus comes in handy. With such help, the application becomes smooth sailing.