How to Immigrate to Canada as a Couple


There are many ways to immigrate to Canada as a couple, from spousal sponsorship to more traditional avenues where your spouse joins you as a dependent. The conjugal relationships that are considered for the purposes of immigration to Canada include same-sex partners and domestic partners.

Starting a new life can be overwhelming, especially if you have to do it on your own. Many would-be immigrants find it difficult to bring their families with them, but in Canada it doesn’t have to be. There are avenues that allow you to immigrate to Canada at the same time, even if you obtain permanent residence at different times. Find the right program for you and your partner below to start the process.

Spousal Sponsorship

One of the fastest ways to bring your partner to Canada is through the spousal sponsorship category (which is part of the immigration family class). This is the best option for those who already have a spouse living in Canada or who are married to a Canadian who can sponsor them for permanent residence.

If applying as a couple, the sponsor must first establish permanent residence in Canada through one of the many immigration programs available. It is only after the sponsor has obtained permanent residence that an application for sponsorship of a spouse, domestic partner or conjugal partner can be submitted. Immigrating with your partner as a dependent means that you can both apply for permanent residence together.

Relationship Requirements
Spouse In this case, the Sponsor and the Sponsored person are legally married. For marriage in Canada, a Certificate of marriage is required from the province where the marriage took place. Marriage outside of Canada must be lawful in the country where it took place as well as Canada. A same-sex marriage that took place outside of Canada can not be considered under this category but an application can be made under the other two.
Common-Law Partner In this category, the Sponsor and Sponsored person must cohabit consistently for a minimum of one year.
Conjugal Partner This category is for applicants who do not qualify under the other two categories for exceptional circumstances such as same-sex marriage restrictions in their country of origin or other immigration barriers. The Sponsor and Sponsored person must demonstrate a level of commitment (financial ties/emotional ties/joint assets) that spans the period of at least one year.

Sponsor Applicant Requirements

  • At least 18 years of age
  • Be a Canadian permanent resident living in Canada/Canadian citizen
  • No criminal history
  • Cannot have been sponsored as a spouse within the last five years

Sponsored Applicant Requirements

  • Must be at least 16 years of age
  • Not be too closely related to the Sponsor

Express Entry

Express Entry is a system that controls the three major federal immigration programs, the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Federal Skilled Trades Program and the Canadian Experience Class.


Couples who wish to apply for permanent residence through the Express Entry system can follow one of two routes: either the primary applicant indicates the spouse, domestic partner or conjugal partner as dependent or names them as secondary applicant. Note that of the three programs offered, couples with dependents can only apply to Federal Skilled Worker and Skilled Trades programs, as the Canadian Experience Class does not allow dependents and is more suitable. to young single professionals.

Applying with a Main & Secondary Applicant

This method still requires applicants to provide proof of funds through the Federal Skilled Worker and Skilled Trades programs, but it works differently in that your partner is considered a contributor to the program. This means that when you create your profile through one of these programs in Express Entry, you have a maximum of 1,200 possible points, of which only 40 are determined by your partner’s profile. It might not seem like much, but if you consider the average CRS passing score to be between 430 and 460, it can make a real difference.

CRS Factors Your Spouse Adds/Subtracts
Language Proficiency This is determined by the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) that measures your reading, speaking, listening, and writing ability in French and English.
Level of Education This measures post-secondary education in or outside of Canada. Maximum points are awarded for Canadian education and degrees equivalent to a Master’s or higher.
Age The highest points are awarded for individuals between the ages of 20 and 29 while no points are awarded for individuals past the age of 47.
Canadian Work Experience This accounts for work experience obtained in Canada, preferably a minimum of two years to score higher.

It’s important to consider which partner has the strongest profile before applying in order to name that person as the main applicant. If your partner would score highly in the above categories, it’s worth listing them as a secondary-applicant but if they would score poorly, consider listing them as a dependent instead.

Applying with Dependents

Listing a partner as a dependent requires the main applicant to provide proof of sufficient funds to settle in Canada if you have dependents but does not take your partner’s profile into account when calculating the CRS score.

Financial Requirements
Number of Dependents Funds Required (CAD)
One $12,960
Two $16,135
Three $19,836
Four $24,083
Five $27,315
Six $30,806
Seven $34,299
Each Additional Member $3,492

Other Immigration Programs

Other ways to immigrate to Canada as a couple include applying for Provincial Nomination Programs (PNPs) with the partner who has the strongest skills / education, etc. who come forward as the best candidate for the immigration. The spouse, domestic partner or conjugal partner will be included as a dependent on the application. The principal applicant will need to provide proof of sufficient funds to settle in Canada and the figure will be determined by the number of dependents listed.

Another option (if both applicants are eligible) is to apply separately for the respective immigration programs, withdrawing the one when an invitation to apply (ITA) has been issued. However, it can be costly if both requests are processed successfully, as the fees are double.

Provinces Offering PNPs

  • Alberta
  • British Columbia
  • Manitoba
  • New Brunswick
  • Newfoundland & Labrador
  • Nova Scotia
  • Ontario
  • Prince Edward Island
  • Saskatchewan
  • Northwest Territories
  • Yukon

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