Family Sponsorship

Canada encourages family reunification and offers several programs and opportunities to further this and sponsor family members to live in Canada.


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Family Sponsorship
Written by Kristoffer Ray Condes.
Updated December 1, 2015 | Canada

Who Can Be Sponsored under the Family Class:

  • Spouse
  • Conjugal or common-law/same-sex partner
  • Dependent child (including an adopted child) under age nineteen
  • Parents
  • Grandparents
  • Other family members such as the last remaining family member (under humanitarian and compassionate grounds whenever applicable)

Who Can Sponsor Relatives

  • A Canadian Citizen OR
  • A Canadian Permanent Resident residing in Canada
  • At least 18 years of age
  • Meet certain income guidelines if financial support is needed.

Sponsorship Obligations, Requirements

Sponsorship is taken seriously in Canada and your sponsor must agree in writing to give you financial support if needed.   In fact, your sponsor might not be allowed to sponsor another person if those same  relatives later ask the government for financial help.   The terms of a sponsorship agreement are as follows:

  • If you are a spouse or partner, the financial support must last 3 years from the date you become a permanent resident
  • If you are a dependent child, support will last for 10 years  or until you turn 25, whichever comes first

 If you are the individual being sponsored, you must also agree to try and support yourself.

Who May Be Ineligible to Sponsor Family Members

 The following may make an individual ineligible to sponsor a family member living outside Canada:

  • The person was sponsored as a spouse or partner less than 5 years ago and is now sponsoring another spouse or partner;
  • Not meeting the terms of a past sponsorship agreement;
  • Not paying court-mandated alimony or child support;
  • Applying for and getting government financial assistance for reasons other than disability;
  • Conviction of:
    • An offense of sexual nature;
    • A violent crime;
    • An offense against a relative the resulted in bodily harm or an attempt or threat to commit any such offense;
  • Declaring for bankruptcy and not being released from it yet;
  • Not paying back an immigration loan or made late payments or missed payments;
  • Being in prison.

Application Review 

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (or CIC) reviews sponsorship applications.  Your sponsor will be informed of the decision.   CIC might approve the application as a sponsor of a Canadian Citizen or permanent resident but disapprove the application of the relative being sponsored.  If this happens to you, your sponsor will be informed of the reason for the refusal and about his or her right to appeal the decision.

  • There are 2 stages in the process of family sponsorship:The sponsor submits an application to the Case Processing Centre (or CPC) in Canada;
  • The family member being sponsored will apply for permanent residency.

If your sponsor lives in Quebec, CIC must approve him or her as a sponsor and meet Quebec's conditions to be a sponsor as well.

Spousal and Common-law-Partner (SCLP) Visas

A spouse is a legal marriage partner and includes both opposite sex and same-sex relationships.

A legal marriage partner. This term includes both opposite- and same-sex relationships but does not include common-law partnerships.

According to Canada's Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (SOR/2002-227), a common-law partner "means in relation to a person, an individual who is cohabiting with the person in a conjugal relationship, having so cohabited for a period of at least one year."

Under a new Pilot Program, CIC will be issuing open work permits to applicants for permanent residence under the spouse or common-law partner classes of Family Sponsorship.  Eligible spouses will be able to work in Canada before the approval in principle decision on their application is made. 

These open work permits will be exempt from the need of a Labor Market Impact Assessment (or LMIA) and will be valid for 2 years or until the date your passport expires, whichever is earliest.  CIC has also announced that these open work permits for applicants for the SCLP class will be processed within 4 months upon receipt of an application.

Case processing centres have been instructed to conduct checks to ensure that requirements are met.  It is therefore important to have your application reviewed first to catch mistakes that may have been made in completing forms. 

As the issuance of a work permit is a pilot program, CIC will assess the impact and processing for open work permits after 1 year.

Licensed Immigration Consultant

Get the correct advice first before your sponsor completes your application packet under the SCLP class! If an application for permanent residence - regardless if it has been approved in principle or not - call us to schedule an appointment with IVC's RCIC  Immigration Consultant, to learn how to update your case to ensure efficient processing and an earlier entry date for you to Canada.

Dependent Child Visa

 A Canadian citizen or permanent resident may apply to sponsor his or her dependent child or that of his or her partner's living in or outside Canada. A child can be a biological or adopted child who is 19 years of age or below.  Once the sponsorship and application for permanent residence are approved, the dependent child can join his or her sponsoring parent(s) in Canada.  Remember, a separate application form must be made for each child but all applications must be sent in the same envelope.

 Conjugal Partner Visa

 Unlike applicants under the SCLP class, a conjugal partner is an individual who has had a binding relationship with the sponsor, either opposite-sex or same-sex,  for at least one year but could not live with their partner.  If you have been separated from your Canadian citizen or permanent resident partner because of war, discrimination or any other legal barrier, you can be reunited under the Conjugal Partner Visa. 

 Parental & Grandparental Visa

 A provision has been made to sponsor parents and grandparents to Canada as permanent residents.  The Parental and Grandparental Program (or PGP) was re-opened briefly on January 2, 2015 but has since been paused until next year. 

As an alternative, the Canadian government offers a Parent and Grandparent Super Visa which is a multiple-entry non-immigrant visa.  If approved, the Super Visa is valid for up to 10 years and will allow you to remain legally in Canada for up to 24 months without having to renew your status.  Instead of waiting years for the approval of a permanent residency application, you will wait less than one year for processing to be completed - that is, if there are no mistakes on your application.  If you are applying for a Super Visa, you must know that you cannot include dependents in the application and only your spouse or common-law partner can come with you under this visa.

 Other Eligible Relatives

 A Canadian Citizen or permanent resident can sponsor other relatives under the Family Class.  Once the sponsorship has been approved and the applicant passes the security and background checks and medical exam, that relative will be entitled to permanent residency, work and study in Canada.  This relative can be:

·         An orphaned, unmarried and under 18 years of age brother, sister, nephew, niece or granchild;

·         One other relative if the sponsor has no relative in any other Family Class who are Canadian Citizens or permanent residents.

 Family-Based Provincial Nominee Visa

A Provincial Nominee Program (or PNP) is a program that allows provinces and territories to nominate candidates for immigration to Canada.  Each province is unique and will have its own requirements for individuals who have the skills, education and work experience to make a positive contribution to its economy.

 NOVA SCOTIA FAMILY BUSINESS WORKER.

This is a Family-based Provincial Nominee Program allowing company owners based in Nova Scotia, to hire workers who are close relatives with the work experience and required skills for positions in their companies that have not been filled by a Canadian Citizen or permanent resident.  

To be considered eligible:

  • The family business worker must have a full-time permanent job offer from his or her Nova Scotia-based employer;
  • The relationship between the employer and the worker can be any of the following:
    • Son or daughter;
    • Brother or sister;
    • Niece or nephew (children of brothers or sisters only);
    • Uncle or aunt (parents' brothers or sisters only);
    • Grandchild;
  • The job being offered her is not low-skilled, that is, it belongs with NOC Skill level 0, A, B or C.

Quebec Family Sponsorship

Similar to Federal Family Sponsorship, a  Canadian citizen or permanent resident living in Québec, who is at least 18 years of age can sponsor a close relative if (s)he satisfies some prerequisites:

  • If sponsoring a spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner, that family member must be more than 16 years of age;
  • The family member being sponsored, if of legal age, must sign the declaration that (s)he understands th scope and nature of the undertaking;
  • All previous commitments must have been fulfilled;
  • (S)he must not have received financial assistance of last resort (social assistance) except allowances related to  his or her age or a serious, permanent disability that prevents his or her from being able to work;
  • (S)he must have complied with alimony court-mandated alimony over the past 5 years or repaid all outstanding amounts;
  • (S)he must not have been convicted in Canada or abroad of:
    • An offense of sexual nature;
    • A violent crime;
    • An offense against a relative the resulted in bodily harm or an attempt or threat to commit any such offense unless  the guarantor has been acquitted or rehabilitated or finished serving his/her sentence for at least 5 years before submitting the application for sponsorship.
  • (S)he must have sufficient financial resources when sponsoring a parent, grandparent, a dependent child who has a child, or a close relative who is a minor and an orphan;
  • (S)he must not be in prison.

An undertaking of sponsorship cannot be terminated so it is important that everyone knows what they're getting into.  Even if the individual being sponsored obtains Canadian citizenship, separates, divorces or moves to another province, or the sponsor's financial situation deteriorates, the undertaking agreement will remain in place.  

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