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Is Remaining In My Unhappy Marriage The Only Way To Stay In Canada?

In our increasingly globalized world, it is common for family lawyers to see marriages between two people from different countries. Once together, you understandably want to live and work in the same place, but acquiring permanent residency in Canada can be a lengthy and paperwork-ridden task. Spousal sponsorship for permanent residency, therefore, is a good avenue to take as it allows a non-Canadian spouse to remain and work in Canada. This is a great option while you're married, but what happens to your sponsorship status if you just can't work things out?

To sponsor a spouse, you must support that person financially if they need it; this includes ensuring basic needs such as food and clothes, as well as health needs like dental work or glasses that the Canadian health system doesn't cover. You must also give evidence that you are, in fact, with that person because you want to be, and not just as a tool to get them into Canada. 

Prior to April 2017, Immigration Canada had a sponsorship rule demanding that the couple live together for the first two years of the permanent residency process (if they did not meet a minimum length of relationship or have children). Now, however, it's not necessary to remain together for the sponsorship to be valid. In fact, the sponsor must uphold the agreement they signed for three years after permanent residency is granted. That means they must continue to financially support the person they sponsored whther the couple stays together or not. If the sponsor refuses to pay, the sponsored party can apply for social assistance, but this is only a temporary respite from the contract because in the end the sponsor will owe that money back to the government. The main implications of divorce are therefore not for immigration but for finances; and finances are at issue in any divorce between any two people. 

As for different types of immigration status, such as actual citizenship or refugee status, there is equally not problem with divorce. If you are a citizen, you cannot have that revoked, and if you already have refugee status the same applies. For student or working holiday visas, having a spouse or not is irrelevant to the application, as it is other factors that are taken into consideration. In short, no, remaining in an unhappy marriage is not necessary to stay in Canada, and being married or not does not affect your citizenship or permanent resident status. Divorce, in the end, is difficult enough without adding immigration stress into the mix. 

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