Can I Sponsor My Spouse If They Have A Criminal Record?


Embarking on the journey of Canadian immigration can be daunting, especially for those with a criminal record. Mistakes from the past, though not reflective of one’s current character, can have far-reaching consequences on immigration decisions, particularly when it comes to sponsoring a spouse or common-law partner. In this in-depth exploration, we will navigate the intricate landscape of criminal inadmissibility in the context of spousal sponsorship, shedding light on various aspects, including types of offenses, Temporary Resident Permits (TRPs), and alternative options available.

Understanding Criminal Inadmissibility

The prospect of inadmissibility looms large for individuals with a criminal record, especially if their offenses fall under the category of Serious Criminality. However, exceptions exist for those seeking to sponsor a spouse or common-law partner. To address criminal inadmissibility, a crucial first step is determining the nature of the committed crime and its equivalence under Canadian law. Timing is equally important, as the scenario varies based on when the offense occurred.

Canada recognizes three types of offenses: Summary, Indictable, and Hybrid. Summary offenses are minor, resulting in fines or short-term imprisonment – akin to misdemeanors in the US. On the other hand, Indictable offenses are serious, potentially leading to extended imprisonment – equivalent to felonies in the US. Canada’s unique contribution to this classification is Hybrid offenses, which can be treated as either Summary or Indictable based on the crime’s severity. In the immigration context, Hybrid offenses are consistently treated as the serious version, i.e., an Indictable offense.

Options for Sponsoring a Spouse with a Criminal Record

The burning question for many is whether it’s possible to bring a spouse or partner with a criminal record to Canada. The answer is generally affirmative, but it involves exploring different avenues. One viable option is filing a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) application concurrently with the spousal sponsorship.

A TRP is a discretionary tool issued by the Canadian government, allowing individuals with special circumstances to seek an exception to their inadmissibility. To obtain a TRP, the applicant must present a compelling reason for their entry into Canada. It is crucial to articulate why the case is exceptional and why the individual deserves a TRP. The application should include detailed information about the criminal history, including the date and nature of the offense, the imposed sentence, and any rehabilitation efforts. The reviewing officer holds the discretion to approve the TRP and determine its length and additional parameters. It’s important to note that while applying for a TRP is an option, approval is not guaranteed.

Another avenue is applying under Humanitarian and Compassionate grounds, a particularly viable option when a child is involved. This approach considers the adverse effects on the child if the partner is absent, aligning with the goal of family reunification. It is advisable to provide substantial evidence of the person’s rehabilitation efforts and other factors supporting their entry to Canada.

The final option involves seeking rehabilitation, either through a formal application or automatic rehabilitation as per the immigration act. A deeper exploration of this option is available in a separate video that delves into criminal inadmissibility in-depth.

In conclusion, the possibility of sponsoring a spouse or common-law partner with a criminal record exists under certain conditions. The immigration department acknowledges the complexities of family relationships and has mechanisms in place to consider past transgressions. However, when dealing with criminal inadmissibility, it is crucial to frame the issue properly from submission and manage it carefully throughout the process. Every case, especially those involving criminal records, is unique and often complex, necessitating meticulous attention to detail when submitting documents.

Start Your Canadian Adventure!

Speak to Our Immigration Experts!
Unlock the door to your future in Canada with a consultation from our experienced consultants.

Free Online Assessment!

Discover your eligibility for Canadian immigration with our no-cost, comprehensive online assessment.


If you have questions or need direction, reach out to us for personalized assistance. We're here to help you find clarity and a path forward.

Join Our Community

Join us to learn more & interact with a community who are at various stages in their Canadian Journey.

 Explore our collection of videos that explain all aspects of Canadian Immigration & Settlement.

Follow us on Instagram for videos & pictures to help guide you on your
Canadian Journey.

Recent Posts