The number of spouses and common-law partners immigrating to Canada under its spousal sponsorship program dipped again in September in tandem with another drop in total monthly immigration to the country, the latest data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) reveals.

In September, 4,710 newcomers became new permanent residents under the spousal sponsorship program, down 2.4 per cent or 115 new permanent residents, from the 4,825 in August.

The ninth month of the year, though, also saw an 8.5 per cent decline in total monthly immigration, down to 32,065 in September from 35,055 in August, which indicates spousal sponsorships dropped off less than total immigration that month.

By the end of September, Canada had welcomed 59,585 new permanent residents under the spousal sponsorship program. 

That puts the country on track, provided the current levels of spousal sponsorship arrivals maintains itself, to welcome 79,447 spouses and common-law partners as permanent residents to Canada under the program by the end of the year.

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That level of spousal sponsorship immigration would be 23.9 per cent higher than the 64,140 new permanent residents who immigrated to Canada under that program last year.

After maintaining a level of 6,230 new permanent residents under the spousal sponsorship program for each of the months of June and July when total monthly immigration to Canada topped 40,000 new permanent residents, the level of spouses and common-law partners fell by 22.5 per cent in August. 

That same month, total monthly immigration to Canada also fell by 13.8 per cent to 35,055 new permanent residents.


The current projected level of spousal sponsorship immigration would be almost in line – although somewhat still above – with the target level set by Ottawa for spousal sponsorships for this year.

In its Immigration Levels Plan 2023 – 2025, Ottawa set an upper limit of 84,000 new permanent residents under programs to sponsor spouses, partners and children. The target for this year for that category of immigrants is 78,000 new permanent residents.

Canada’s most populous province, Ontario, saw the greatest number of arrivals under the spousal sponsorship program with 31,460 spouses making it their home in the first nine months of this year.

British Columbia Attracted The Second-Highest Number Of Spousal Sponsorships

The other provinces and territories attracted the following number of new permanent residents under the spousal sponsorship program during that period:

  • Newfoundland and Labrador – 145
  • Prince Edward Island – 100
  • Nova Scotia – 705
  • New Brunswick – 405
  • Quebec – 6,140
  • Manitoba – 1,625
  • Saskatchewan – 1,040
  • Alberta – 7,850
  • British Columbia – 9,995
  • Yukon – 70
  • Northwest Territories – 40
  • Nunavut – 10

When a Canadian citizen or permanent resident chooses to sponsor a spouse or common-law partner to immigrate to Canada, the sponsor must sign an undertaking, promising to give financial support for the sponsored person’s basic needs, including:

  • food, clothing, shelter and their needs for everyday living, and;
  • dental care, eye care and other health needs not covered by public health services.

This agreement cannot be cancelled, even if:

  • the person sponsored becomes a Canadian citizen;
  • the couple divorces, separates or the relationship breaks down;
  • either the sponsor or the sponsored spouse or common-law partner moves to another province or country, or;
  • the sponsor experiences financial problems.

EI Payments Considered Income For Sponsor Of Spouse

Maternity, parental and sickness benefits paid under the Employment Insurance Act in Canada are all considered income and contribute to allowing a person to sponsor a spouse or common-law partner but other payments from the government, such as employment insurance and federal training allowances, are not considered income.

On its website, IRCC provides estimates of the current processing times for various types of applications, including spousal sponsorships.

According to that website, the current processing time for sponsorship applications for spouses or common-law partners currently outside the country and planning to live outside of Quebec is now down to 13 months, a considerable improvement over the 20-month processing time last year.

That estimated processing time includes:

  • the time needed to provide biometrics;
  • the assessment of the sponsor and the person being sponsored, and;
  • the time immigration officials need to ensure the sponsor and his or her spouse or common-law partner meet the eligibility requirements.

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