Migrating North
May 21, 2018 12:21 PM   Subscribe

You are not my immigration lawyer, but maybe you can point me to a resource that will clarify something for me regarding applications and timing. US -> Canada spousal sponsorship question within.

My spouse is a Canadian citizen and will be returning to Canada for a new job after legally working in the US for a few years and living with/marrying me. I have US citizenship and, obviously, want to remain with my spouse. We have to move in about a month, which I'm sure is not enough time to get a PR application reviewed and approved. Do I enter as a tourist, since US citizenship gives me 180 days in-country without a visa, and then file the paperwork for sponsorship/status change once we arrive? Or do we submit immigration paperwork now, while still in the US? Can I enter the country on a tourist visa if I have a pending immigration application, or would I have to wait for approval (which I'm sure would take some months) to actually go to Canada?

This is not our first immigration rodeo, and we have plenty of documentation for our genuine relationship, so we are (relatively) confident that we can handle the application without a lawyer, and will be completing the paperwork ourselves. I just need to know if we should be submitting that paperwork before we depart or if we should wait until entering the country.
posted by halation to Law & Government (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You can apply to become a permanent resident from inside Canada if you:

are a refugee or a protected person,
are a spouse or common-law partner of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident,
Looks like you can do it from Canada.
posted by Margalo Epps at 12:47 PM on May 21, 2018

We did something similar, a long time ago. You probably can, it may result in a longer approval cycle though. The immigration system keeps changing. Who knows? (A lawyer - they're paid to keep up to date. : )

We moved up on a work visa, got laid off, applied for PR in-country and that caused all kinds of confusion. (Among other things - it required a plane ride to Buffalo to hand in some forms, because there was no office inside Canada that would accept them.) The system is not really set up to handle PR applications from this side of the border.

We used Kyle Hyndman. If you're on the west coast, highly recommended. They'll charge you only for what you need. I think we ended up spending less than $500. It's worth it just for the peace of mind. Moving / job changes are stressful enough without worrying if you're going to get sent back at the border.

Good luck!
posted by cfraenkel at 1:00 PM on May 21, 2018

IANAIL but I believe the situation you are in is referred to as "dual intent" here or here.

That said, given the (remote but probably nonzero) probability of a Very Bad outcome (ie, getting banned from the country of residence of your spouse), I would probably talk to a lawyer.
posted by quaking fajita at 1:26 PM on May 21, 2018

We did something similar, a long time ago. You probably can, it may result in a longer approval cycle though.

Oh yes, it will indeed. I did this back in the day. Though the system may have changed by now. I watched friends who applied considerably later than I did from outside the country breeze through. I was in the country on a student visa at the time, and I can only assume that every time my application hit a desk, someone went, "Wait, what? He's already in Canada?" and had to pull my documents to figure out what was going on. It took like two years to get my PR status.
posted by Naberius at 1:55 PM on May 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

If you are in Canada, it will take longer for the PR application to be approved, but generally, once your spouse is approved as your sponsor (the first step), you will receive a work visa that will allow you to work while you wait.

Having said that, that first step can still take a few months so if you need to work, you’re better off waiting it out in the US.

They do process them faster if you are not both living in Canada, with a goal of reunifying separated couples as quickly as possible - in my case it took 9 months for my husband to get his PR and move here while I know people who applied from within Canada for whom it took almost 2years.
posted by scrute at 7:05 PM on May 21, 2018

You don't need to/shouldn't talk to a lawyer about this (though perhaps you may want to in the future if you find you need help with the PR application), you should just ask the Canadian consulate. 1) It's free, 2) Lots of bad immigration lawyers give lots of really bad advice, and 3) If you do run into problems or delays later on, it's a lot more convincing to Canadian immigration to say that you did what you did because their government told you to follow that process, than to say that you followed the advice from a private attorney.
posted by exutima at 11:02 PM on May 21, 2018

Two comments based based on when I sponsored my wife 13 years ago so it may be out of date:

- Don't trust what the Immigration Canada call centre tells you, the people manning it are just call centre workers and often give out incorrect information. Call them 2-3 times with the same question and you could get different answers. Do your best to verify any answer from some other source before taking it as gospel.

- If you go the "both inside Canada" route, beware about leaving Canada until your application is approved because it's possible you won't be allowed back in again in which case the application is cancelled. Some people risk it, and it usually turns out OK, but something to be aware of.
posted by borsboom at 11:44 AM on May 22, 2018

« Older Best home 'improvements' for renters   |   How to play video from USB source on TV Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.