How Do I Withdraw Sponsorship of My Spouse or Common Law Partner In Canada

Often, life doesn’t turn out the way we planed. Physical distance, financial pressures, language barriers, deception or newly discovered differences can all put an end to a bi-national relationship or marriage. What do you do when your relationship comes to a premature end after you have submitted your sponsorship and undertaking for Canadian permanent residence?

In my practice as a Toronto immigration lawyer, many clients have asked me: “How do I cancel the sponsorship of my spouse?” This blog will explain in great detail legal and practical considerations and requirements, related to the withdrawal of sponsored applications for permanent residence under family class.

Timing is the key for a successful withdrawal of spouse sponsorship applications.

The sponsor can cancel his or her undertaking and receive a refund of permanent residence application processing fees if the actual processing has not yet taken place. This means that as long as an immigration officer has not yet reviewed the application and evidentiary submission or issued medical instructs etc., the sponsor can withdraw without any financial penalty and without triggering any additional legal obligations vis-à-vis the sponsor’s spouse or the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. Keep in mind that the sponsored person cannot appeal a withdrawal, since no decision was made on his or her permanent residence application. In circumstances where the sponsor is found but requests from Citizenship and Immigration Canada to withdraw the undertaking before processing has begun, the application is usually returned and the processing fees, minus the sponsorship cost recovery is refunded.

When the sponsor requests the withdrawal of the sponsorship undertaking after the processing of the spouse’s permanent residence application has commenced, the case processing center that has the application has to consent to the withdrawal. Simply put, in this case, the withdrawal is not automatic, and the processing fees cannot be recovered.

Where a sponsor requests to withdraw his or her undertaking, and where the CPC approves the withdrawal, this may ultimately have the effect of a refused application. Since R120 prohibits the granting of permanent residence to foreign nationals applying as members of the family class in the absence of valid sponsorship undertaking is not in effect, CPC approval of a withdrawal request would likely be equivalent to a refused application.

CPC will only accept a withdrawal request in cases where final decision has not yet been made.  For spouse sponsorship applications processed outside Canada, this means that a withdrawal will likely be approved as long as permanent resident has not been issued. For Inside Canada applications, first stage approval (in principle) of the sponsorship undertaking is not a “final decision.“ Application processed at CPC Vegreville under spouse or common law-partner in Canada class, withdrawals are usually approved until the Confirmation of Permanent Residence has been entered into the system.

Even when a withdrawal request is denied, a sponsor’s request may still be considered as an indication that the sponsor will not adhere to their undertaking, which can lead, in turn, to a refusal of the sponsored permanent residence application.

Sponsorship withdrawal requests should not be taken lightly. A failure to properly withdraw or cancel an undertaking can leave the sponsor with an onerous three-year undertaking obligations and a significant Crown debt. If you believe that your relationship has irretrievably broken down while your spouse’s permanent residence application is in process, contact a spousal sponsorship lawyer immediately since timing is of the essence. We are here to help.