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How does a divorce affect your citizenship?

A citizen holds their passport and wonders what will happen after their divorce

Original Publish Date: November 10, 2017

Revised October 20th,  2022

Getting a divorce means a lot of things will change. It could mean that you have new financial obligations, or that you will see your kids on a visitation schedule. 

For those who have recently moved to Canada, there can also be questions about whether or not getting a divorce will impact their immigration status – or if they might have to leave the country.

Does Divorce Affect a Citizenship Application?

Generally speaking, you don’t need to worry about your citizenship, residency or immigration status being influenced by your divorce.

Permanent residents or anyone who has gained citizenship since moving to Canada cannot lose their status or be removed from the country at the end of their marriage. 

The only situation that could lead to legal issues would be if you are caught lying about your status, the length of time that you have been in the country or other important information relating to your immigration.

Having said that, there may be ongoing sponsorship issues that likewise will not be affected by a separation or divorce.  In some cases, the sponsor may need to be replaced by another citizen (see below).

When can you get a divorce?

If you are newly moved to Canada and are seeking to get a divorce, you are able to apply for a divorce in Canada if you and your spouse have lived in Canada for more than one year.

How Long After Citizenship Can You Divorce?

Typically, your Canadian citizenship or permanent residency will not be affected by your divorce. However, if you are divorcing a non-Canadian citizen, there may be implications for their immigration status. 

If you are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, you can file for divorce in Canada as long as you or your spouse have lived in the country for at least one year. The process for divorcing a non-Canadian citizen is more complex, and you may need to file for divorce in the country where your spouse resides.

Once you have filed for divorce, the court will issue a divorce certificate. This document is official proof that your marriage has ended and can be used to update your status with government agencies, financial institutions, and others.

If you have any questions about how your divorce may impact your citizenship or immigration status, we recommend speaking with an immigration lawyer.

Resolving a Sponsorship

If your spouse sponsored you to allow you to come into the country, they still have a legal obligation to provide financial support even if the marriage is over. 

However, this financial support may end if your spouse can prove that they can no longer provide support or they successfully make a case for stopping the support payments.

How Will Divorce Affect Your Sponsorship? 

If you are sponsored by your spouse to come to Canada, they will remain financially responsible for you even if the marriage ends. This is true even if the 3-year period after your arrival has not yet lapsed.

If you do not receive any support from your sponsor, you can apply for social assistance. The government will then collect this amount from your sponsor.


For all cases, contacting a local family lawyer is the best course of action to help you identify your rights and potential issues. 

While you likely won’t need to worry about being forced out of the country, you will still want to position yourself as best as possible for success after the end of your marriage.

This blog is made available by the law firm publisher, Epstein & Associates, for educational purposes. It provides general information and a general understanding of the law but does not provide specific legal advice. Any specific questions about your legal concerns please contact us now and speak to an expert today.