Appealing a decision about sponsoring a spouse or partner (bad faith relationship)

​​​​​In this type of appeal, an immigration officer has refused to issue a permanent resident visa to a person you sponsored as a spouse or partner. Canada’s immigration la​ws do not allow such sponsorships if they are made in bad faith. This means:

  • the relationship is not genuine; or
  • the primary reason the relationship was entered into was to allow the person to immigrate to Canada

You should be prepared to deal with all the reasons the officer gave for refusing the visa. You can find the reasons in the refusal letter provided to you and in the visa office notes found in the appeal record sent to you by the Minister.

Below you will find important information that can help you prepare to make your appeal.

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Prove that your relationship is genuine and was not entered into primarily for immigration purposes

To succeed in your appeal, you must prove that your relationship is genuine. You also must prove that you or your spouse or partner did not enter the relationship primarily so that this person could immigrate to Canada.

In the following paragraphs, the term “partner” will be used to refer to either your spouse, common-law partner, or conjugal partner.

Read definitions of spouse, common-law partner, and conjugal partner.​

Here are some questions that you should be prepared to answer:

  • How did you meet your partner and how did your relationship develop?
  • How long have you known your partner? How well do you know each other?
  • Do your friends and family know about your relationship?
  • If you are married, how did you get married?
  • If your marriage was arranged, how did it come about and how compatible are you as a couple?
  • Do you provide any financial support for your partner?
  • Does your partner have an immigration history in Canada? If so, what was it?
  • What do you and your partner plan for your future together?
  • Do you and your partner have children together or with others?
  • Have you travelled to see your partner? If so, how often?
  • If you lived in a common-law relationship, describe when the common-law relationship started. What were your living arrangements?
  • Only for the sponsorship of a conjugal partner: If you and your conjugal partner were not able to live together, describe the circumstances and timing for entering a conjugal relationship. How did you maintain the relationship if you could not live together?

Provide evidence that will help you prove your case

You and your spouse or partner should be ready to testify about the closeness of your relationship at the hearing. You can also call other witnesses who know about your relationship, such as your friends or family. Testimony can be presented virtually using Microsoft Teams, by telephone, or in person.

Gather documents that show the closeness of your relationship. For example, you can include letters and other messages, phone bills, photographs, plane tickets, and receipts for money transfers.

If the immigration officer questioned the legal validity of your marriage, you will have to address this. Gather any documents or information you have that could help explain the marriage laws in the country where you got married. This could help you show that your marriage documents are genuine, and your marriage is valid.

Possible outcomes of an appeal

When you appeal a sponsorship decision, there are two possible outcomes:

  • Your appeal can be allowed. This means that the decision to refuse the permanent resident visa application is overturned (or cancelled). Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will resume processing the permanent resident visa application.
  • Your appeal can be dismissed. This means IRCC’s decision to refuse the permanent resident visa application remains. Your appeal is closed at the IAD.