First you must decide on what application is best suitable for your situation.
There are three types of application, common-law partner, conjugal partner or spousal (married). For all three (3) types you must demonstrate that your relationship is genuine. In a common-law relationship you need to demonstrate that you and your partner have lived together for at least one (1) year before submitting your application. For a conjugal relationship, you must demonstrate that you have joint affairs and that there are bona fide immigration barriers or other barriers preventing you from living together or getting married. For example, your partner can obtain a visitor visa to visit Canada for 6 months and then apply for an extension to obtain one full year in Canada, even if the visiting partner cannot work, that is not considered an immigration barrier. An immigration barrier can sometimes exist if your partner tries to get a visitor visa to visit Canada and is repeatedly refused and you are under many conditions not able to also marry or live with your partner. However, other factors are to be considered than merely having your partner visa repeatedly refused and it is best to set up a consultation with us for more detailed discussion of your situation.
Your spouse and your dependent children will have to undergo and pass a medical examination and a security clearance. Your spouse may then decide not to receive his or her immigrant visa. You would at a later time have to sponsor your spouse when he or she wants to immigrate to Canada. It is therefore more practical for your spouse to obtain their permanent resident visa as per the normal process. This course of action would eliminate delays and your spouse having to apply and go through the immigration sponsorship procedures once your spouse wishes to join you in Canada.
Based on various degrees of exceptions, as a permanent resident you must be physically present in Canada for at least 2 years in the 5 years immediately preceding your return to Canada.