1. Learn the rules about a valid marriage

If you want to sponsor your to become a , you need to show that your marriage meets the requirements set by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

For IRCC to accept your marriage, it must be legal where it took place and in Canada.

The document checklist included with your sponsorship application package says what documents you need to prove your marriage. What documents you need will depend on where you got married.

Rules about age

To sponsor your spouse, you both need to be at least 18 years old.

And for IRCC to accept your marriage as valid, you also must both have been old enough to legally marry in the place where you got married. For example, in Ontario, if you’re 18 or older, you don’t need permission from your parents to get married. But, to get married if you’re 16 or 17, you usually need both of your parents to give their permission in writing.

If you were legally married while one of you was under the age of 18, you have to wait until you’re both at least 18 before you can sponsor.

Rule about being present at the wedding

You must both have been physically present when the marriage took place. This rule applies even if you got married in a country that has different rules. For example, some countries allow:

  • marriage by proxy, which means that one of the people getting married gave someone else the power to be there for them
  • marriage when one person is taking part by phone or over the internet

But the rule that says you must both be physically present does not apply:

Rule about being free to marry

IRCC will not accept your current marriage if either of you was still married to someone else when you married each other.

If one of you was married before, you need to show that the earlier marriage had already ended. This could have been by:

  • divorce
  • annulment
  • death of the previous spouse

If you got a divorce, you need to show that the divorce is recognized by the law in Canada.

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