Moving Back to Canada
Moving Back to Canada

Permanent Resident status for your foreign-born spouse

Immigration: Spouse & Children

Returning to Canada with your foreign-born spouse and children

Many Canadian citizens living abroad meet someone special, get married, and have children. Years of life go by and then a time comes when many consider moving back to Canada due to economic conditions where they are living, safety, or simply to have their spouse and children experience life in Canada.

Two big questions arise at this point:

The first: "How can I bring my non-Canadian citizen spouse to Canada?"


The second: "Are my children Canadian citizens? If not, how do I get them to be?"

Let's address both of these:

"How can I bring my non-Canadian citizen spouse to Canada?"

This is a very common question and the short answer is:

  1. You sponsor your spouse to become a Canadian "Permanent Resident" ("PR" for short).

  2. You wait until the Canadian government grants the PR status for your spouse (this takes about a year).

  3. You move back to Canada. You can also move back to Canada first, with your spouse arriving on a visitor visa, and then immediately sponsor them after arrival. This pathway takes about a year as well.

  4. A few years later your spouse can apply for Canadian citizenship

The Longer answer:

Well, the longer version is still pretty straightforward. The only added wrinkle is that if you return to Canada first, and then apply to sponsor your spouse, they can apply for a work permit about 1 month after the PR sponsorship goes in, allowing them to work and access public health care and other benefits during the remaining waiting period for the PR application to be approved.

Frequently asked questions:

Question: "Will the application be approved for sure?"

Answer: For the vast majority of applicants, the process is long and must be followed carefully, but does normally lead to a successful outcome. In very rare cases, a spousal sponsorship is rejected. For Canadian citizens of good standing legally in Canada, with a long-time marriage or common-law relationship, no financial complications, and whose spouse is in relatively good health and good legal standing abroad, it works out just fine.

Question: "How long does the Permanent Resident sponsorship process take?"

Answer: Preparing for the application can take 1-3 months. The current waiting period (it changes with time and demand) is about 12 months. So a total of 13-15 months can be expected.

Question: "Should I do the sponsorship application myself or hire a Canadian immigration lawyer?"

Answer: Firstly, I can state clearly that unless you have serious legal issues to consider, you do not need an immigration lawyer. They are far too expensive for a normal PR sponsorship application.

If you find the PR application process daunting or you are simply too busy to work through it yourself, you can hire someone to help. The person you want to hire is a "Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant", or "RCIC" for short.

And you want a reputable one! Wherever there are are important legal boundaries to cross that people are eager to get through but are uncertain as to whether they can, there are predators and parasites who want to prey on desire and fear.

The watering hole in the savanna of Africa has lions and hyenas circling, waiting for thirsty, sometimes desperate prey.

The border of Canada that people really want to get through to live and work here? Another form of predator and parasite appears: The person who tells you they can "get you into Canada and get your citizenship approved"...for a big fee. The government of Canada has been cracking down on this form of fraud, but it can still happen. While in other countries there are people who can bribe a government official to get paperwork approved, in Canada we have an integrous immigration system that really works. It is not "bribeable". Stay away from anyone who offers you a fast and easy PR or immigration process in Canada. There is a very good chance they are not honest.

How to choose a good RCIC: Like with any professional, check their credentials, find out how long they have been doing this work, ask for referrals to a good one from others who have used such services, and start a conversation with one to be sure you feel comfortable working with them. A good RCIC can support your PR application needs regardless of where they are or to which province you are moving to in Canada.

I can recommend two great RCIC's. Both are very experienced, very good to work with, and both of very high integrity. Many of my clients use their services: Marianne van der Meij and Paul Abraham. (useful links section of this site) I get no commission or other benefit from recommending them, so you can trust these are good referrals.

Plan to do your PR application yourself and need some contextual help?

I support my clients with their preparations for applying for PR status for a spouse. The most common areas I advise on are with the timing of applications in the context of the overall move, dual-citizenship concerns, separate moves (one spouse comes first), working remotely, and meeting residency requirements. These are questions that dovetail with, and are part of, the full professional support services I support clients with.

"Are my children Canadian citizens? If not, how do I get them to be?"

Your foreign-born children are likely already Canadian citizens!

The great news:

If you were born in Canada your children are automatically Canadian citizens!

The slightly more complicated news:

You have to get the government of Canada to confirm that they really are citizens, and to do so, you must apply for proof of citizenship. I also recommend getting Canadian passports for your children at this time (notes below on this).

Note: This only applies when a parent is a Canadian citizen in good standing.

Frequently asked questions:

Question: "How long does it take for the government of Canada to confirm my children's Canadian citizenship?

Answer: It depends. Some people are finding that they can get it done in a matter of weeks. Others are finding it takes several months. If you know you are moving back to Canada in the coming year, get the process started now.

Question: "Should I get my children Canadian passports as well as proof of Canadian citizenship?"

Answer: An emphatic "YES!" A Canadian passport will mean they don't need U.S. or Canadian travel authorizations, they will be allowed to enter Canada (dual citizens MUST have a Canadian passport), and they will have a form of primary photo identification when they arrive in Canada. Get their passports immediately and at the same time, if you can, when you apply for your children's proof of citizenship.

Question: "Does the fact that my children have proof of Canadian citizenship and Canadian passports impact my application to sponsor my spouse for PR status?"

Answer: Great question! I suspect it does in an informal way. After all, if they are moving to Canada with one parent who is a Canadian citizen, it makes a good case for their other, foreign-born parent, to be allowed to live legally in Canada, doesn't it?

Further Help

Spousal sponsorships and moving your children "back" to Canada when they were born and have lived abroad does raise a lot of questions.

Please take the time to full research and consider all your options and take action on important first steps such as having the Government of Canada issue proof of citizenship and passports for your children.

If I can be of support for your move to Canada, and for bringing your foreign-born spouse and children as part of your move, please engage my professional support services. I will be pleased to help!

Contributions & Feedback, please!

This resource is updated regularly.

Please contribute your learning and experiences, and suggest improvements, so that other Canadians moving back to Canada, and those moving here for the first time, may benefit from your wisdom.

Thank you!

Paul Kurucz

Latest update to this resource: February 2018.

Moving Back to Canada Planner!

Planner / checklist for moving back to CanadaA ready-made, customizable list of things you have to prepare for your move back to Canada, organized on a timeline approach. Save hours of work and the stress that you might not think of it all.

Now available for immediate download. In easily editable Microsoft Word format* so you can customize it to meet your planning needs.

Bonus! Includes the guide: "Truth About Canada - 10 insights to empower you and your new life in Canada." (value: $18) Written by Paul Kurucz, this guide will help you better understand the Canada you are coming back to!

Purchase and Download now:


(PayPal, Visa, Mastercard, Amex)

* (If you don't have Microsoft Word, download the free OpenOffice software, which can open Microsoft Word documents easily)

Have questions?

I offer professional support to help you prepare for a smooth and easy return to Canada so you can feel confident and organized!

Paul Kurucz

Paul Kurucz - Canada

A happy client:

Hi Paul,

Just to update you - we landed and sailed through customs! So thank you so much for all of your advice...It was a thoroughly pleasant experience...

... this is to say thank you for everything. Your advisory has been so incredibly helpful and saved us considerable time and removed room for error.

With best wishes,


Paul's professional support

Home | FAQ's | Contact | Get help - Professional Support

Commercial use: © 2003-2018 by Paul Kurucz.

Creative Commons License

Content from the Moving Back To Canada web site by Paul Kurucz is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License for non-commercial, personal use.