Canadian citizens and permanent residents are allowed to sponsor their family members for permanent residence in Canada. Unlike under the US immigration system, both spouses and common-law partners can be sponsored to Canada as members of the Family Class.
Americans have multiple options for sponsorship including both the In-Canada Class and Family (Overseas) Class.
Contact us if you have questions about sponsoring your spouse, common-law partner, or other family member from the US.
Requirements To Get Married in the United States
Required Documents for Marriage for an American Citizen / Resident
- Current photo identification such as a driver’s license or passport
- Proof of citizenship and/or residence
- Social security number (if applicable)
- Birth certificate
- Proof of parental consent and/or court consent if underage
- If previously married, death certificate if you are widowed or divorce decree if you are divorced
- Occasionally, blood test result (in certain counties or states)
Requirements for issuance of a marriage license vary by state and by county. Prior to submitting your application for a marriage license in the United States, the applicant should confirm requirements with local authorities.
Marriages in the United States can be conducted by a religious authority such as a priest, pastor, or minister, a civil authority such as a judge or magistrate, or another secular authority legally allowed to officiate a marriage ceremony.
Steps to get married
- Collect all necessary documentation and I.D. and confirmations that any previous marriages are properly ended (if necessary).
- Most states* require both spouses to be present when applying for the marriage license. Go to the town/city/county clerk office to submit the application for the marriage license and pay fees. (Wait if necessary.**)
- Collect marriage license.
- Get married by someone qualified to perform the ceremony. The ceremony can take place anywhere, so long as it is in the presence of an authorized member of the clergy or authorized public official with witnesses.
It is usually the duty of the person who performs the ceremony to send the marriage certificate to the county or state agency that records marriage certificates.
- Obtain or order the certified marriage certificate. (Additional fees and waiting times may apply)
*Proxy Marriages: Only four states allow proxy marriages: California, Colorado, Montana, and Texas. With the exception of Montana, each of these states require one of the spouses to appear before the civil authorities. Montana, however, allows a “Double Proxy” marriage, where proxies may appear. This is only permissible if one or both of the spouses are members of the military and away on active duty.
NOTE: A marriage conducted by proxy is not legal for immigration to Canada with very few exceptions.
Blood Test: Montana still requires that both spouses provide a blood test as one of their marriage requirements.
**Waiting Times: Some states have waiting times after submitting the marriage application.
- 1 day: South Carolina
- 3 days: Alaska, District of Columbia, Florida, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington
- 5 days: Minnesota
- 6 days: Wisconsin
Premarital Preparation Course: Some states provide an option of completing a premarital preparation course. If they choose to attend the course, couples often receive a discount on cost of the marriage license upon providing the completion certificates. In states with wait times, the waiting time is sometimes waived.
Marital Age: The USA does not have a federally set minimum age for marriage leaving states free to set the minimum age themselves. Some states, like Delaware and New Jersey, have made 18 years of age the minimum age a person can get married, with no exceptions.
25 states have no minimum age requirement. In states like Missouri, 15-year-olds are allowed to wed, with only one parent’s signature required. Anyone below the age of 15 would require a judge’s consent. Some states, like North Carolina, allow people as young as 14- and 15-year-olds to marry in instances of pregnancy or if parenting.
Sponsoring Your Spouse or Common-Law Partner from the United States to Canada
Possible Challenges for Sponsorship Applications from the United States
Marriages of convenience with Canadians (fake marriages for the purpose of moving to Canada) are not common in the United States, as the US and Canada share many similarities in lifestyle, language, and socio-economic level of development. Americans have little reason to lie about being in love with a Canadian.
However, sponsorship applications between Americans and Canadians frequently have trouble with application forms being completed incorrectly and supporting documents being incomplete, leading to the application being returned.
Sponsorship of a Common-Law Partner
Submitting a complete application is most important when the sponsor and applicant are common-law partners rather than married spouses. This is because common-law partners must prove that they meet the legal threshold of common-law status of having lived together in a committed relationship for at least one year.
To prove that a couple meets common-law status, they need to show documentary evidence of their continued cohabitation either in Canada, or the United States, or abroad for at least one year. Documents can include:
- joint lease or mortgage in the names of both partners
- joint bank accounts and/or credit cards
- driver’s licenses or other state or provincial IDs with the same address
- car insurance and registration at the shared address
- utility bills at the shared address
If an application has insufficient documentation that the couple meets the threshold for common-law status, it can be refused.
Sponsorship for Same Sex Relationships
Same-Sex marriage has been legal in Canada since 2005 and in the United States since 2015.
Under Canadian immigration law, same-sex spouses or common-law partners can be sponsored for permanent residence. These applications are treated no differently under the law than opposite-sex relationships.
Due to social, family, religious, and societal pressures, it is not uncommon for same-sex applicants for sponsorship to be unable to provide some of the usual documents for a sponsorship application. Sometimes one or both of the applicants may be in a relationship which is not public, or is unknown to certain friends or family members.
This situation can be addressed in the sponsorship application in order for the immigration officers to understand the individual circumstances of the applicants and why certain documents cannot be provided.
In order for a Canadian to sponsor an American citizen for PR in Canada, it is not enough that they are married or living together as common-law partners. They must be in a genuine, ongoing, monogamous relationship with one-another.
Marriage fraud in order to come to Canada occurs infrequently in the United States. For this reason, interviews conducted by immigration officers to confirm the genuineness of the relationship are convoked infrequently for American applicants. However, immigration officers have the power to convoke an interview for any sponsorship application which gives them concern that an applicant may not be telling the truth about their relationship.
Criminal Convictions for Sponsorship Applicants from the United States
If an applicant for PR in Canada has criminal convictions in the United States or Canada, this can negatively impact their application for permanent residence.
Applicants who have been convicted of a crime must have been found to be rehabilitated either via deemed rehabilitation or individual rehabilitation. If an applicant needs to apply for criminal rehabilitation, this can be done concurrently with the application for spousal or common-law sponsorship as long as at least 5 years have passed since the completion of all portions of sentencing for the crime(s).
Spousal Sponsorship Application from the United States
An application for spousal or common-law sponsorship made by a Canadian citizen can be submitted from the United States if the couple are living there, or from within Canada. If the sponsor is a permanent resident rather than Canadian citizen, the sponsor must be resident in Canada in order to submit the sponsorship application.
Country Specific Documents Required for the US:
No additional forms are required specifically for sponsorship applications from the United States
It is recommended that applicants for FBI police clearances use the online application as processing is an average of several months faster than a paper based application.
Are documents issued in the USA issued in any language other than English or French? If so, what language(s)?
The official language for business and documentation in the US is English.
Is a visa required for a person from the US to enter Canada if they wanted to do In-Canada sponsorship?
American citizens are not required to obtain a visa or eTA in order to enter Canada to visit their fiance or spouse and then apply for In-Canada sponsorship.