For couples who have a partner in one country and another one abroad, keeping the partnership intact can be a considerable challenge. About 1.9 million Canadians are in some form of a long-distance relationship, which sounds romantic and like the stuff of films, but can be difficult in real life. Living apart from your spouse or partner can exact emotional and mental stress on top of the usual challenges one can face at work or at home.
This is one of the reasons why many people choose to immigrate through sponsorship. For the majority of applicants, this process goes smoothly. However, officers might occasionally ask a couple to undergo sponsorship interviews. This procedure should not be feared. If you or your partner are asked to report for one of these interviews, here are some things to remember:
1. The officers are not looking for a reason to “fail” you
An in-person interview is set when officers suspect that a relationship is made in bad faith. Officers are there to assess if the relationship presented in an application is real. If it seems misrepresented, the application may be refused.
According to Section R4(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, a bad faith relationship is one which is entered into by persons who have agreed to a conjugal or common-law partnership for the express purpose of gaining statuses or privileges. That is, it is a fabricated relationship and is seen as invalid, not to mention as a reason to refuse to grant foreign national citizenship.
Officers who conduct interviews are trained to be fair and follow all regulations for processing applications. They would only request an in-person interview when the applicant has a record of unsuccessful immigration or if they suspect bad faith or criminality. Even if you have a poor immigration or security background, however, this does not mean all is lost. You just need to prove that you are coming to Canada lawfully and intend to obey all laws during your stay.
2. In-person interviews can be spot checks
Though interviews are reserved for suspected bad faith partnerships, you have to be ready for the possibility of getting invited for an interview even if you have complete, detailed information on your relationship. Sometimes applicants are selected for quality assurance processes.
In cases like these, the entire visit lasts up to about 15 minutes. The questions will be based on the information you already provide, so if you suspect you have been selected as part of a spot check, do not worry. Just answer as confidently as possible.
3. You will have time to mentally prepare
It is understandable that when you are called in for an interview, no matter how honest and upstanding you are, you may get a little nervous. Use the time you are given to compose yourself for the day. For partners who live overseas, you are given three to four weeks’ notice, which gives you time to free up your schedule for the day. Partners living in Canada have a week to prepare for the interview.
If you consult an immigration lawyer, they can provide you with counsel on how the interview may proceed based on the information you already provided. Additional documentation requested by the Canadian immigration officers will also clue your lawyer in on other details you may need to explain.
4. You will be asked about your relationship
If you are both in Canada, you will be asked similar questions during your interviews. However, they will be conducted in separate rooms, and the officers will convene and discuss your answers. Since not everyone has a perfect memory, your recollections may have discrepancies; the officers will expect this, and will also have a way of gauging the variations.
Common questions include when you first met, the details of your first few dates, what your opinion is on your differences in religion, age, social status, and so on. They may also ask about how often you speak with each other, what you talk about, what you two do for a living, and even how much you individually earn.
They might also ask for information about your living situation. If you claim to live together, they may ask for details about your home, such as how many rooms there are, what your daily routines are like, and even which side of the bed you sleep on. Do not be agitated by the level of scrutiny you are getting—as always, aim to answer as truthfully as possible.
A sponsorship interview is a considerable challenge to your Canadian citizenship. However, it is not insurmountable. Hiring an immigration lawyer will help you sort through the details of a spousal interview.