You are currently viewing My spouse sponsored me for permanent residence and we are now getting separated/divorced. Will this affect my permanent resident status?
Andrew Mortenson, B.A., J.D. - EY Law LLP

My spouse sponsored me for permanent residence and we are now getting separated/divorced. Will this affect my permanent resident status?

  • Post category:Newsletters
  • Reading time:5 mins read

If your marriage or relationship to your spouse or partner was genuine, getting separated or divorced from your sponsor will not affect your permanent resident (PR) status, even if you obtained permanent residence through the sponsorship of your spouse or common-law partner. 

It is very important to understand that your spouse or partner does not control your permanent resident status. If you were in a genuine relationship with your spouse or partner when you obtained permanent residence, then any subsequent divorce or separation will not affect your PR status in Canada. 

I have heard from clients some common myths that circulate in communities. Below I will explain a few of these myths and provide a brief explanation of how they are misleading:

  • “If you are sponsored for PR by your spouse/partner and you get divorced/separated, your sponsor can tell the government that you are separated and your PR will be cancelled/you will be deported”
    • This is not True. If you are sponsored for PR by your spouse or partner and the marriage or relationship ends, the sponsoring spouse cannot “remove” or “cancel” their spouse’s PR status. The sponsoring spouse or partner does not have any control over your PR status and they cannot do anything on their own to cancel your permanent resident status. 
  • “If you are sponsored for PR by your spouse or partner, you have to stay married/in the relationship to keep your PR”
    • This is not If you were sponsored by your spouse/partner for PR, there is no condition that you stay married or in a relationship with your spouse or partner to keep your PR status. 
  • “My spouse/partner told me that they signed a document saying that we have to stay together for three years otherwise I can lose my PR” 
    • This is not Your sponsoring spouse/partner must sign undertaking to provide for your basic needs, usually for a period of 3 years after you become a PR. This does not mean that you must stay with them for 3 years, or for any other amount of time. You are never obligated to stay in a marriage or relationship to maintain your PR status – including if you were sponsored for PR by your spouse or partner. 

In very rare circumstances, if the Government of Canada has reason to believe that you lied about the genuineness of your relationship or marriage to obtain PR status, then this can lead to an investigation and proceedings that can eventually lead to losing PR status. However, if your relationship with your spouse or partner was genuine (“genuine” meaning you did not enter into the marriage or relationship primarily for the purpose of immigration to Canada), then any divorce or separation is very unlikely to raise this suspicion. This should not be a concern for anyone who was in a genuine marriage or relationship with their spouse or partner at the time that they were sponsored and became a PR.

If you are an immigrant woman, in a relationship where you are abused, mistreated, or otherwise feel unsafe with your spouse or partner, please do not hesitate to seek assistance from the IWSO or the Ottawa Police Service. If you ever fear for your safety, including if your partner behaves violently towards you or your family members, do not hesitate to call 911 for immediate assistance and protection. The IWSO can be contacted confidentially by phone at 613-729-3145, or by email at: infomail@immigrantwomenservices.com

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Immigrant Women Services Ottawa
219 Argyle Avenue, Suite 400
Ottawa, Ontario
K2P 2H4
Tel: 613-729-3145
Fax: 613-729-9308