Family Sponsorship Options 

Canadian citizens or permanent residents can sponsor family members to move to Canada.  Canada's family sponsorship requirements may differ depending on the category of a sponsored family member or relative. A spouse, common-law partner, conjugal partner, dependent children, adopted children, parents/grandparents (or other relatives in exceptional cases) could all be sponsored to Canada by an eligible Canadian sponsor.

Family Sponsorship Types

Canadians can sponsor their certain family members and relatives to become permanent residents of Canada. This is a pathway to immigrate to Canada with the primary goal – family reunification!


Family Members Who Can Be Sponsored


Sponsors who meet Canadian requirements to become a sponsor can sponsor certain family members and relatives:


Spouse

This includes a husband or wife to whom a sponsor is legally married. A spouse may live in or outside of Canada. Therefore, there are two options: inland spousal sponsorship and outland spousal sponsorshipRead about spousal sponsorship requirements here.


Common-Law Partner

A common-law partner is the one who is not legally married to a sponsor. A common-law partner could be either sex, as same-sex marriages are recognized in Canada. The key is that a sponsor and a common-law partner must have been living together for at least 1 year, continuously and without any long periods apart. Either partner can leave another just for a short and temporary period and only for family, work or business reasons. In most cases, common-law partners are sponsored through inland sponsorship. However, in rare circumstances, a Canadian citizen may live outside Canada with a common-law partner. In that case, outland sponsorship may be an option. Permanent residents living common-law outside Canada, can not sponsor their partners. Read about common-law partner sponsorship requirements here.


Conjugal Partner

As compared to a spouse or a common-law partner, a sponsor can not marry or live together with the conjugal partner because of the barriers beyond their control. Such a reason could well be the immigration barrier, religious, sexual orientation, war, etc. Still, to sponsor a conjugal partner, a significant degree of attachment for at least 1 year must be proved. Outland sponsorship is the only option for a conjugal partner, and conjugal partner sponsorship requirements must be met.


Dependent Children

A dependent child is the one under the age of 22 years old.


Adopted children
Parents and Grandparents

Canadian citizens and permanent residents can sponsor parents and grandparents to Canada. Canada has a cap on the number of parents sponsorship applications it accepts every year. Read more about the requirements and process to sponsor parents and grandparents to Canada here. If you were not successful in a particular year with parents sponsorship, can always apply for a Super Visa for Parents/Grandparents to bring them to Canada.


Orphaned close relatives

To be eligible for sponsorship, an orphaned relative must be:

  • under 18 years old, and 
  • without a spouse or partner, and
  • related to a sponsor by blood or adoption (brothers or sisters, nephews or nieces, and grandchildren).


Any other relative

This option only possible if a sponsor does not have any relative in Canada or abroad who he can sponsor instead under the regular categories (spouse, common-law partner, conjugal partner, son or daughter, parent, grandparent, brother or sister, uncle or aunt, nephew or niece).

Who Can Be Sponsor in Family Sponsorship?

A sponsor should meet three main requirements for age, status in Canada, and financial sufficiency.


Age

Sponsor must be at least 18 years old.


Status in Canada

Sponsor must be a Canadian citizen, or permanent resident of Canada, or registered Indian in Canada. Permanent residents must live in Canada to sponsor a family member or relative.


Financial Ability

A sponsor should be able to provide financial support to the sponsored family or relative in Canada. Financial support includes basic needs such as food, clothing, and shelter.

Who Is Not Eligible Sponsor?

There are some additional requirements to be an eligible sponsor. For example, undischarged bankrupts, social assistance receivers (except for disability reasons), and prisoners are not eligible to sponsor their family members.  


Also, sponsors who are in breach of their child support payments, immigration loan payments, terms of the previous sponsorship agreement, or committed a violent crime or sexual offence against a relative are not eligible to become a sponsor until those conditions removed.

Minimum Income Requirement in Family Sponsorship

A sponsor does not need to prove income to sponsor:


  • a spouse
  • common-law 
  • conjugal partner
  • dependent children (under 22 years old), with some exceptions though. 


However, to sponsor all other family members or relatives, a sponsor must prove an annual income in the preceding 3 years.


The annual income must at least be equal to the minimum necessary income, calculable based on the number of persons in a sponsor’s family.  For that purpose, a sponsor’s family is composed of a sponsor, spouse or partner, dependent children, and the sponsored person(s). Every year the Canadian Government publishes federal income scales – Low Income Cut-Off (LICO)


Thus, to find out if the sponsor has the minimum necessary income to sponsor family members and relatives, firstly, find out a sponsor’s size of family, and then check the required annual income based on the number of the sponsor’s family members in the specified year.

Financial Undertaking in Family Sponsorship Application

Sponsors are financially responsible for family members and relatives they want to sponsor for Canadian permanent residence. 


A Sponsor has to sign a document called Finacial Undertaking.


The length of financial responsibility depends on the age and relationship to the sponsor, and whether a sponsor resides in Quebec.  


Length of Financial Undertaking for all provinces except Quebec


Spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner - 3 years
Dependent child under 22 years of age - 10 years, or until age 25, whichever comes first
Dependent child 22 years of age or older - 3 years
Parent or grandparent - 20 years
Other relative - 10 years


Can A Sponsor Cancel Financial Undertaking To Sponsor Family Member?


Importantly to remember that a sponsor can not cancel or withdraw undertaking after the person sponsored has become a permanent resident of Canada.


For example, if you had sponsored a wife and divorced 1 year after she became a permanent resident of Canada, as a sponsor you will still be financially responsible for the ex-wife for 2 more years. This is because the period of undertaking for a spouse is 3 years.


A sponsor can not cancel or withdraw financial undertaking even if the sponsored person becomes a Canadian citizen, the sponsor lost a job or has a debt.

Family Sponsorship Stages

Canadian family sponsorship application has two stages.  


Step 1 - The first stage is to identify whether a sponsor is eligible and meet the requirements, which is a “sponsorship application.


Step 2 - The second stage is the “application for permanent residence.” However, the Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) visa office only proceeds to the second stage if the sponsor is assessed as eligible and meets the requirements in the first stage – sponsorship application.


Even though the two stages have certain different documents and sponsorship application forms, all these documents and forms must be submitted at the same time.


Thus, to make a family sponsorship application, the whole application package containing sponsorship application and application for permanent residence must be submitted together.

Processing Time of Family Sponsorships

Family Sponsorship processing time varies depending on the category. For instance, spousal sponsorships are processed within 12 months, while parents' sponsorships are processed within 24 months.  processing a family sponsorship application may take longer if there are complications, such as missing documents, information, or other concerns.

If you would like to know more about Family Sponsorship options, you may call +1-647-695-5256 or email lena.levtsun@leromlaw.com, complete a free assessment form or message us using the contact form below.

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