Spouse and Partner Immigration To Canada Numbers Recover In 2021

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Canada immigration news: After dropping to nearly half at the peak of COVID-19 restrictions, Canada’s immigration numbers in the spousal sponsorship category recovered to pre-pandemic levels in 2021.

The year saw 64,200 spouses and partners become Canada permanent residents, a 78 percent increase on the 36,055 newcomers in the category in COVID-hit 2020, but effectively equally the 2019 figure of 64,620 immigrants.

With a target of 80,000 spouses, partners and children in 2022, according to the latest federal government Immigration Levels Plan, the figures are set to rise beyond anything seen before in Canada.

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Canada Spouse and Partner Immigration Numbers, 2015 to 2021

Before COVID-19 hit, Canada had seen a steady rise in spouse and partner immigration, from just over 46,000 in 2015, up to nearly 65,000 in 2019.

However, just like all other immigration categories, numbers slumped in 2020, as borders were close and international travel restricted to stop the spread of the deadly virus.

Processing Times Spike

Spousal reunification was one of the many immigration streams that saw a significant rise in processing times due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser said in January that the stream was one of the first to return to the 12-month service standard for processing.

Other categories, including those for Federal High Skilled workers, still have processing times far in excess of that service standard. 

Family Sponsorship Applicants Can Check Application Status

Meanwhile, Canada recently launched a new application tracker for family sponsorship candidates to check the status of their immigration file

For the initial launch, which happened in February, the tracker is available for permanent residence applicants in the spouse, partner and dependent child categories. 

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Applicants for permanent residence in the family sponsorship categories are now able to use this tracker to check the status of their applications.

“This new tool will allow people to easily check their application status online, and is available for spousal, partners or dependent children categories,” tweeted Fraser at the time. “We’re also working to provide a similar tracker for other programs.”

Who Is Eligible To Sponsor Their Spouse, Common-Law or Conjugal Partner?

Sponsors must:

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Be a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, or a person registered in Canada as an Indian under the Canadian Indian Act.
    • Canadian citizens living outside Canada must show they plan to live in Canada when the sponsored person(s) become permanent residents.
    • Permanent residents living outside Canada cannot be sponsors.
  • Be able to prove they are not receiving social assistance for reasons other than a disability.
  • Be able to provide for the basic needs of those being sponsored.

Who Can Be Sponsored?

The person being sponsored and their family members must pass background, security and medical checks.


A spouse can be either sex and must be:

  • Legally married to the sponsor.
  • At least 18 years old.

Common-Law Partner

A common-law partner can be either sex and must:

  • Be not legally married to the sponsor.
  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Have been living with the sponsor for at least 12 consecutive months in a conjugal relationship without any long periods apart.

Proof of a common-law relationship includes:

  • Shared ownership of residential property.
  • Joint leases or rental agreements.
  • Bills for shared utility accounts.
  • Important documents showing the same address, such as driver’s licenses or insurance policies.
  • Identification documents.

Conjugal Partner

A conjugal partner can be either sex and must:

  • Be not legally married or in a common-law relationship with the sponsor.
  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Have been in a relationship with the sponsor for at least 1 year.
  • Live outside Canada.
  • Be not able to live with the sponsor in their country of residence or marry the sponsor because of significant legal and immigration reasons, such as marital status, sexual orientation or persecution.
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