When an application to sponsor a spouse to Canada is refused the sponsor is given 30 days to appeal the negative sponsorship application.

Sponsorship applications which are refused may be appealed to the Immigration Appeal Division (IAD). Appeal cases at the IAD work through a two stage process. The first stage involves a process much like a pre-trial where the Division attempts to resolve cases without having to proceed to a full hearing. In the majority of cases, no such resolution is reached and the case proceeds to a full hearing.

At the hearing, unlike a regular appeal, the IAD proceeds De Novo or as a fresh hearing and may accept new evidence which was not considered by the original reviewing officer. Furthermore, the IAD has, in some cases, the power to allow the appeal on the basis of Humanitarian and Compassionate considerations.  This means that even where the Appeal Tribunal finds that the officer was not mistaken in refusing the application, there are other compelling reasons to allow the appeal.

Unlike the Federal Court, the IAD may substitute its own decision in place of the earlier decision appealed from.