Divorce After Sponsorship in Canada: How does a divorce affect your citizenship?

Divorce in Canada and concerned about your sponsored residency status? Our guide explains the practical effects divorce may have on your citizenship, with straightforward advice on navigating post-sponsorship obligations and maintaining your residency. Expect clear, helpful insights tailored to your needs without unnecessary complexity.

Key Takeaways

  • Divorce does not automatically affect an individual’s permanent residency status in Canada, but separation prior to finalization of permanent residence due to sponsorship can result in refusal of the application.
  • Sponsoring ex-spouses in Canada are legally obligated to support the sponsored individual for three years after the individual obtains permanent residency, despite a divorce.
  • Temporary residents in Canada due to their ex-partner’s work or study permit cannot renew their status post-separation and should seek legal advice to explore their options, while refugees accepted in Canada maintain their status and can apply for permanent residence despite divorce.


Understanding The Implications Of Divorce On Citizenship After Sponsorship In Canada

Navigating the labyrinth of divorce law can be challenging, even more so when you throw citizenship into the mix. When a relationship ends, the repercussions are not just emotional but can also affect your legal status, particularly if you were sponsored to come to Canada. Indeed, for individuals awaiting permanent residence whose sponsorship application has not yet been finalized, a separation can lead to the refusal of their application.

However, the situation is different for those who have already obtained permanent residence. In such cases, the dissolution of a marriage will not have an impact on their immigration status, even if they were brought to Canada through spousal sponsorship. This relief, however, comes with its own set of responsibilities. For instance, the sponsoring ex-spouse is obligated to support the sponsored individual’s essential needs for three years after they become a permanent resident.

But what if you’re in Canada under a temporary status due to your ex-partner’s work or study permit? In this case, you can maintain your status until the expiry date on your visa but cannot renew or extend it post-separation. This can create a sense of uncertainty, making it imperative to seek legal advice to explore your options.

If you initially claimed asylum as a couple and then separated, you must inform the Immigration and Refugee Board to process your claims individually. Separation does not affect the immigration status of a ‘protected person’ (accepted refugee); they can stay in Canada and apply for permanent residence.


Understanding Sponsorship in Canada

Sponsorship is one of the main pathways for family reunification in Canada. The country offers family sponsorship programs that enable citizens and permanent residents to bring their loved ones – including:

  • spouses
  • common-law or conjugal partners
  • parents
  • grandparents
  • children

to Canada. But the process is not as simple as it may seem. It involves specific eligibility criteria and responsibilities.

To sponsor a family member, one must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, at least 18 years old, and financially capable of supporting the sponsored family member. However, there are certain conditions under which an individual may not be permitted to sponsor. These include situations in which the sponsor is imprisoned, has defaulted on court-ordered payments, declared bankruptcy, received government assistance, or has failed previous sponsorship obligations.

In the case of spousal, common-law, or conjugal partner sponsorship, Canadians are not required to meet the Minimum Necessary Income (MNI). However, sponsors must still financially support the sponsored individual for three years. This undertaking to provide financial support for basic needs comes with the potential obligation to repay any social assistance benefits paid to the sponsored family members for up to 20 years.

It’s also worth noting that the processing time for sponsorship applications can take approximately 12 months, depending on the specifics of the case and verification requirements. Lastly, those residing in Quebec must undergo additional steps, including seeking approval from the Quebec Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration, to sponsor family members.


Divorce Process in Canada

The journey toward divorce can be emotionally draining and legally complex. To file for a divorce in Canada, one must:

  • Be legally married, either under Canadian law or under the laws of another country that Canada recognizes, which includes a foreign divorce
  • Have a marriage that is considered broken But what qualifies as a “broken” marriage? Canada’s divorce law operates on a no-fault principle, which means the sole ground for divorce is the breakdown of the marriage. This breakdown can be demonstrated by:
  • A year-long separation
  • Cruelty
  • Adultery

There’s a provision for spouses who wish to reconcile during their separation. They can live together for up to 90 days while separated to attempt reconciliation without affecting their one-year separation period required for divorce. The process of starting a divorce application varies across provinces and territories, but it generally involves filling out specific forms and possibly paying an application fee.

Seeking legal advice in family law is highly recommended before applying for a divorce. Understanding one’s rights, responsibilities, and the applicable law can help navigate the process of divorce applications and divorce proceedings. Agreeing on major issues such as:

  • child support
  • custody
  • spousal support
  • property division

prior to applying for divorce can expedite the process and reduce expenses. Lastly, it’s important to note that only residents can typically divorce under the Divorce Act, but exceptions exist for non-residents who married in Canada and can’t dissolve their marriage in their own country.


Impact of Divorce on Permanent Residency

The impact of divorce on an individual’s permanent residency status in Canada is a concern for many. The good news is that divorce does not typically cause an individual to lose their permanent residency status in Canada, nor can they generally be removed from Canada solely because the relationship has ended. However, it’s not entirely devoid of potential consequences. For example, permanent residents may face repercussions if they are found to have provided false information about the length or evolution of their relationship in a legal setting.

Sponsors have responsibilities too. They remain financially responsible for the individuals they sponsored for three years following their arrival, regardless of any relationship breakdown. In cases where a sponsored relationship dissolves and the sponsored individual lacks permanent residency, it is recommended to seek legal or community clinic advice promptly.

After a divorce, permanent residents may apply for social assistance if their ex-spouse cannot or refuses to provide financial support. It’s also worth noting that individuals with refugee status in Canada do not lose their status due to the end of a relationship. Refugee claimants might even be able to separate their claims from those of their spouse if the relationship ends, depending on the specifics of their situation.


Available options for individuals facing divorce after sponsorship

Navigating the aftermath of a divorce after sponsorship can be daunting. However, understanding your options can help ease the stress. Those who have achieved permanent residency in Canada through spousal sponsorship can retain their status even if they divorce their sponsor. For those who only have temporary status and have not yet applied for permanent residence, seeking legal guidance for their immigration options becomes crucial if the relationship ends.

Notably, those who sponsored a spouse to Canada are obligated to provide financial support for the basic needs of their spouse for at least three years after the sponsored individual obtains permanent residency, even in the case of divorce. If a sponsored spouse or partner receives government assistance payments during this three-year undertaking period, the sponsor may need to repay those amounts.

The option to cancel an undertaking exists, but only before the permanent residence application of the sponsored spouse is finalized. Finally, it’s worth noting that previously sponsored individuals who have divorced cannot immediately sponsor another person to Canada; a five-year sponsorship bar is in place.


Common Challenges Faced by Individuals Navigating Divorce and Citizenship Issues

Divorce and citizenship issues can pose unique challenges. Financial stress is a major factor contributing to marital problems and can increase the likelihood of divorce. The introduction of children into a marriage can add financial and emotional pressure, which can be particularly intense with the birth of the first child or multiple births, leading to a higher risk of divorce.

The impact of divorce extends to the children as well. Children’s well-being can be significantly impacted by their parents’ divorce, with varying effects based on the child’s age and the level of parental conflict involved. Moreover, women are more frequently the victims of intimate partner violence (IPV), with one in four women experiencing some form of IPV in their lifetime.

Legal changes, such as the amendments to the Divorce Act in Canada, have influenced divorce cases by providing easier access to such a divorce through the establishment of ‘no-fault’ divorce after one year’s separation.

Finally, remarriage in Canada presents different dynamics compared to a first marriage, including potentially fewer concerns about parental approval and premarital sex, and a higher emphasis on intimacy and maturity. For some, this may be due to having previously committed adultery, leading to a change in priorities and values in their subsequent relationship as a married couple, which might involve a marriage contract established by mutual consent.


Tips and Advice for Managing the Process Effectively

Navigating the complexities of a contested divorce and citizenship is not an easy feat, but with the right guidance and resources, the process can be manageable. Individuals are recommended to consider family justice services such as mediation to resolve issues before going to court. Consulting legal professionals can also be beneficial, and some lawyers may offer a brief consultation for free or at a reduced rate.

Parents are encouraged to reach a mutual agreement on child support and parenting arrangements during divorce, but the court can make orders on these issues if necessary. To facilitate the divorce process, having a clear understanding of the necessary court procedures and family laws in one’s province or territory is crucial, including the details of a divorce decree.

Lastly, if reconciliation is being considered after separation, couples in Canada can live together for up to 90 days without affecting their initial action for divorce based on a one-year separation.



As we navigate the complexities of divorce and citizenship, it’s essential for individuals to comprehend the ramifications of divorce on their permanent resident status in Canada, especially when their residency is a result of spousal sponsorship. A separation can have serious consequences for individuals awaiting permanent residence in Canada if the sponsorship application has not been finalized.

On the other hand, for those who are already permanent residents, separation does not impact their immigration status, even if sponsored by a spouse. This relief, however, comes with its own set of responsibilities. For instance, the sponsoring ex-spouse is obligated to support the sponsored individual’s essential needs for three years following the acquisition of permanent residence, despite separation.

Separation can affect the ability to renew or extend temporary residence status in Canada if it was based on an ex’s work or study permit.

Finally, a refugee claimant’s status is not automatically refused due to separation, but the basis of the claim might need reevaluation if it was related to the ex’s situation.



In summary, navigating the complexities of divorce and citizenship in Canada can be daunting. However, understanding the implications, knowing your rights and responsibilities, and seeking the right advice can make the process more manageable. Remember, you’re not alone on this journey, and there are resources available to guide and support you.


Frequently Asked Questions

Can you find out if someone is divorced in Canada?

To find out if someone is divorced in Canada, you can contact the Central Registry of Divorce Proceedings (CRDP) and request the information after obtaining the person’s consent or if it’s required for legal purposes.


What is a wife entitled to in a divorce in Canada?

In a divorce in Canada, a wife is entitled to a fair share of marital property, potential spousal support, and involvement in child custody arrangements, with the process involving legal negotiations, financial adjustments, and emotional challenges.


Can a divorce affect my permanent residency status in Canada if I was sponsored by a spouse?

A divorce typically will not affect your immigration status if you have already obtained permanent residency in Canada.


Can I lose my temporary resident status if my relationship ends?

Yes, if your temporary resident status was dependent on your ex-partner’s permit, you can maintain it until its expiry date but cannot renew or extend it after the relationship ends.


What are my obligations as a sponsor if I divorce my sponsored spouse?

As a sponsor, you are obligated to continue providing financial support for your sponsored spouse for at least three years after they obtain permanent residency, even in the event of divorce.

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