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Dual Citizenship and Sponsorship 

Posts: 540

Posted On: 10/20/2022
Posts: 540

My question is layered. I am American and now a Canadian dual citizen, I was told that I could use my American passport to cross the border. But someone else told me I have to use my Canadian passport because I have dual citizenship. Which is correct? I want to come with my wife who is from the Nicaragua but she was also denied a tourist visa for 2 weeks in the country. I am now a citizen, how can I bring her here?

Thank you.
Posts: 4099

Posted On: 11/1/2022
Posts: 4099

Thank you for sharing your question with us.

First, you asked about the required travel documents, specifically, which passport to present when entering Canada as a dual American/Canadian citizen:

Dual American/Canadian citizens with a valid American passport can travel with and present either a valid Canadian or U.S. passport. They are exempt from the requirement to have a valid Canadian passport to travel to Canada by air. However, they must still carry proper identification and meet the basic requirements to enter Canada.

A dual citizen travelling with just a valid U.S. passport will need to carry identification that shows their Canadian citizenship as they must be admitted to Canada as a Canadian citizen.

These documents include:
  • Canadian passport
  • Canadian birth certificate
  • permanent residence card
  • citizenship card
  • Secure Certificate of Indian Status (SCIS) card or valid Certificate of Indian Status (CIS) card
If a dual American/Canadian citizen travels and presents only their valid U.S. passport, they may be asked to go through secondary immigration screening to be admitted as a Canadian citizen.

Therefore, it is recommended that dual American/Canadian citizens travel with both passports to prove both citizenships and for the individual to enter Canada as a Canadian citizen without having to undergo additional immigration screening.

Second, you asked about the options to bring your spouse to Canada given her previous visa refusal.

Nicaragua falls under the list of countries which require Nicaraguan nationals to apply for and obtain a visa to come to Canada.
If a tourist visa application was previously denied, it is not recommended to re-apply unless there is new or additional supporting information on the application.

Generally, tourist visas are not granted to spouses of Canadian citizens unless it can be very clearly demonstrated that the spouse has no intention of remaining in Canada beyond a temporary period. This can be demonstrated by evidence of foreign employment that is ongoing and will not be abandoned, proof of residence abroad etc., and any other facts that will show an immigration officer that an applicant has ties that will take them back to their home country and that the applicant will leave Canada at the end of the visit. This is a very high threshold to meet given the presumption that spouses wish to live together.

If you wish for your spouse to join you in Canada, you may wish to explore sponsoring her for Canadian Permanent Residence.

Generally, an individual can sponsor their spouse, partner or dependent child if:

  • They are at least 18 years old
  • They are a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident of Canada, or a person registered in Canada as an Indian under the Canadian Indian Act
    • If one is a Canadian citizen living outside Canada: they must show that they plan to live in Canada when the person(s) they want to sponsor become permanent residents.
    • One cannot sponsor someone if they are a permanent resident living outside Canada.
  • They are able to prove that you’re not receiving social assistance for reasons other than a disability
  • They can provide for the basic needs of any person(s) they want to sponsor.

Once a sponsorship application is filed, other alternative options can be sought to have your spouse join you in Canada on a temporary basis while the application is being processed.

We hope that the information we provided was helpful to you. Please let us know if you have any further questions.


Your Settlement.Org team

This document does not contain legal advice. This document was prepared with the assistance of PBSC University of Toronto law student volunteers. PBSC volunteers are not lawyers and they are not authorized to provide legal advice. This document contains general discussion of certain legal and related issues only. If you require legal advice, please consult with a lawyer.