You are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident in Canada and you are married to a foreigner. Your fist concern is to reunite with your husband/wife (in legal world we call it “spouse” and it extends to your common-law partner as well) as soon as possible. If your spouse is in Canada, you might think that the best solution would be to launch a sponsorship application “from within Canada” meaning that all paperwork will be done in Canada and your spouse will be allowed to stay with you until the process is finalized. There are some issues that must be addressed when you decided to do the inland process. The applications of this type are not a priority for immigration officials because you seemed to be already reunited with your spouse and only papers are of concern. However, you should know that your spouse, although living in Canada, would not be eligible to work or receive health coverage the way Canadians enjoy until the time when the officials approve the application in principle. You could wait for 8-12 months before your spouse are eligible to apply for a work permit. Another issue is that your spouse would be precluded from travelling. Why? Because she/he legally is considered to be “in-Canada spouse” therefore, if left the country, her/his inland status would be automatically seized and the application refused. The positive moments in making an inland application are that you can continue building your lives together and that, if called for an immigration interview, you both will be having an opportunity to present your case.
I always advise my clients to submit an application “from outside” because the process is faster. Your spouse, if she/he is already in Canada, may extend their status as visitors (my office has never failed in persuading the officials that the intentions of spouses are genuine when applying for temporary visitor’s status while awaiting the permanent residence application, but of course, we are not decision makers and each case is unique). We don’t like one thing about it: we are in the hands of our officials in a consulate responsible for the processing of the application of your spouse and sometimes, it is hard to control the situation. On one occasion, we received a letter from the consulate that the application of our client was about to be refused and that we had the last opportunity to present new evidence. We responded with strong submissions that the officer did not have any reasons for the refusal (in that case, no personal interview of my client was conducted) and presented with tons of arguments and evidence. The case was successfully finalized.
The most important difference between the inland and outside of Canada cases is that you cannot appeal the negative decision of an inland application whereas the outside Canada case can be appealed at the Immigration Appeal Division.