I am a dual US/Canada citizen living in the United States. My wife is a US citizen only. We have both occasionally talked about whether it would be possible for us to move to Canada at some point in the future.

As far as I can tell, the "normal" way for a couple in our situation to move to Canada would be to file for "Family Class" sponsorship, under which I apply to sponsor her and she applies for permanent residency simultaneously, and then we both move to Canada when/if the applications are granted. This seems feasible, but the application process would take a fair amount of time.

However, there also appears to be a "Spouse or Common-Law Partner in Canada" class, under which I could sponsor her for permanent residency while in Canada. Since US citizens do not typically need a visa enter Canada, is this a possible route for us? Could we move to Canada first, and then apply for her permanent residency once we're there?

(Assume that we are talking about a point in the future where the US-Canada border has been re-opened.)

1 Answer 1



You can apply under the Spouse or Common-Law Partner in Canada class if your spouse or common-law partner cohabits (lives) with you in Canada and has temporary resident status.


A temporary resident is a foreign national who is legally authorized to enter Canada for temporary purposes.

A foreign national has temporary resident status when they have been found to meet the requirements of the legislation to enter and/or remain in Canada as a visitor, student, worker or temporary resident permit holder. Only foreign nationals physically in Canada hold temporary resident status.


American citizens, including American-Canadian citizens, must carry proper identification and meet the basic requirements to enter Canada. You do not need a Canadian passport, a Canadian visa or an eTA to enter Canada if you are travelling with a valid U.S. passport.

So: your spouse can enter Canada rather freely as you already know, once she is there, she has temporary resident status and as such you can apply under the Spouse or Common-Law Partner in Canada class.

Under https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/application/application-forms-guides/guide-5289-sponsor-your-spouse-common-law-partner-conjugal-partner-dependent-child-complete-guide.html#after you can find

If you’re applying under the Spouse or Common-Law Partner in-Canada class, you may qualify for an open work permit while your application for permanent residence is being processed. You can submit your application for an open work permit together with your application for permanent residence, or after you apply.

This might be helpful for your spouse.

My understanding is your spouse will have implied status while the application is pending and can stay in Canada. I am having trouble finding definite proof of this on the IRCC website -- this might need a follow up question.

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