Perhaps the visa best suited to your situation seems obvious, and if you were to query the Canadian Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CCIC) call centre representative, their answer is almost always as follows, "If your spouse is in Canada you use the Inland Spousal sponsorship category but if your spouse is outside of Canada, you use the Family Class category."
Yet, immigration specialists agree, the obvious answer might not be the best one for everybody.
The differences between the Family Class and the Inland Spousal categories are complex, but sponsors should consider both options—even when your spouse is already in Canada agrees Robbie Ragless, CEO of leading immigration specialists New World Immigration.
According to CCIC the Family Class category is the traditional immigration program to sponsor your spouse from outside of Canada. If your spouse is from a country that requires a visa to come to Canada, it’s your only option.
“Until recently, the Family Class was a much speedier processing option, and in many cases, still is, but with this visa the applicant would not eligible to work in Canada while waiting for their visa.
“You’re able to travel in and out of Canada while your application is in process and if the case is refused for any reason, you have a right of appeal to the Immigration Appeal Division (IAD).
“In contrast, the Inland Spousal category was introduced in 2006 by way of a public policy directive and it replaced the former means of sponsoring a spouse in Canada under a Humanitarian and Compassionate (H&C) application,” this is according to the CCIC.
This category was meant to sponsor spouses who were in Canada and hadn’t seriously breached parts of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA). Inland Spousal sponsorship ignores minor immigration transgressions such as entering the country illegally or working without a work permit, but it doesn’t tolerate misrepresentation or criminality.
Currently, wait times for internal spousal sponsorship can take up to two years – this is according to the CCIC themselves – and typically involves police clearances, medicals and security checks.
An Inland Spousal Sponsorship visa allows for spouses in Canada to apply for a work permit. However, until a positive determination on the application, no work permit would be issued.
Although processing times have been slower for Inland sponsorship than the Family Class, spouses were able to be together in Canada. As a result of the significant delays in processing Inland Spousal applications, CIC introduced a pilot project in late 2014 to issue open spousal work permits within four months of application and prior to any decision being made on the merits of the application.
Immigration experts warned that it is unsure if this pilot project will be extended, cancelled or formalized into a permanent program.
Still unsure which is the best option for your particular situation? Contact a professional immigration specialist at New World Immigration to help you make this important decision. The team of experts will, based on your unique situation and special requirements be able to suggest the best visa route and help you through the whole application process.