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Canadian family sponsorship

Sponsorship is not a simple process it requires legal immigration knowledge and experience. Talk to one of our agent to unite your loved ones without any complications and within a reasonable time frame.

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What is Canada Family Sponsorship? Canadian citizens or permanent residents may sponsor certain close family members who are citizens of other countries to immigrate to Canada as permanent residents.

How to qualify as a sponsor?

The basic requirements to qualify for sponsorship are:

  • that a person must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident,
  • be at least 18 years of age,
  • reside in Canada,
  • and have sufficient income to support their relatives once they arrive in Canada.

A sponsor must enter into a written agreement with the Canadian government to support their relatives for a period of three years for spouses, common-law partners, or conjugal partners, and ten years for other types of relatives.

Don't forget!

There is no requirement to show a minimum level of income to sponsor a spouse, common-law partner, conjugal partner, or child; the income requirement only applies to other types of sponsored relatives.

Who may be sponsored?

The types of relatives who may be sponsored under the family class include the following:

  • Spouse : A spouse is a husband or wife. To be considered the sponsor’s spouse, the sponsor and the applicant must be legally married. If the marriage did not occur in Canada, provided that the marriage is legal in the country where it occurred, then it will be accepted by the Canadian immigration authorities.
  • Common-law Partner : A common-law partner is a person who the sponsor has lived together with for at least one year in a conjugal relationship. A conjugal relationship is a marriage-like relationship.
  • Conjugal partner : A conjugal partner is a person who has been in a marriage-like relationship with the sponsor for at least one year although they have not lived together because of extenuating circumstances.
  • Children : A sponsor’s dependent children include children who are under the age of 22 and unmarried. Children over the age of 22 and children who are married can be sponsored if since reaching the age of 22 or the date they were married they have remained full-time students and have been financially dependent on the sponsor.
  • Parents : Mother or father. It should be noted that when parents are sponsored they may also bring their dependent children with them, which will be the sponsor’s brothers and sisters. In this way a sponsor can bring their siblings who are under the age of 22, or who are over 22 and are full-time students, to Canada as permanent residents of Nov 4, 2011
  • Grandparents: Grandmother or grandfather. (Note: 2 years moratorium = Pause).
  • Orphans : An orphan is someone whose parents are both deceased. An orphaned sibling (brother or sister), nephew or niece, or grandchild may be sponsored if they are under the age of 18 and unmarried.
  • Adopted Children: A person who is under the age of 18 who the sponsor intends to adopt in Canada may be sponsored.
  • Other Relatives : Where a sponsor does not have any spouse, common-law partner, conjugal partner, child, parent, grandparent, sibling, uncle, aunt, nephew, or niece living in Canada, and no relative living abroad who may be sponsored under the regular categories, then they may sponsor any other relative regardless of their age.
Don't forget!

Brothers and sisters cannot be directly sponsored under the Family Class. Brothers and sisters can only be sponsored as accompanying dependents of sponsored parents.

Family sponsorship categories

In-land Spousal Sponsorship

In a normal sponsorship application a sponsor will remain in Canada while the person they are sponsoring will wait in their home country until their application is approved and their visa issued before they can come to Canada. An exception to this rule is the in-land spousal sponsorship category. Under this category it is possible for a Canadian permanent resident or citizen to sponsor their spouse or common-law partner while they are both in Canada. To qualify, the sponsored spouse must either have legal status in Canada, such as a visitor visa, study permit, or work permit; or they may be out of status provided they are not under a removal order.

Sponsorship by a Canadian Citizen Living Abroad

Another exception to the general rule that the sponsor must be in Canada while the sponsored person awaits the processing of their application in their home country, is the ability of a Canadian citizen to sponsor their spouse, common-law partner, conjugal partner, or children while they are living together with them in a foreign country. In such a case the sponsor must show that he or she and the sponsored relative intend to reside in Canada once the relative obtains permanent residence.

Sponsors undertaking agreement

Sponsors must sign an agreement/contract called an undertaking, with the government of Canada (Minister of CIC). Sponsors agree to provide basic needs for their sponsored family members for a period of time following the arrival of the sponsored person(s) in Canada. The length of the Undertaking ranges from three to ten years.

The gist / purpose behind this agreement is to ensure that the sponsored family member(s) do not become dependent on Canadian public welfare / social assistance. It is noteworthy mentioning that a similar provincial undertaking is required for sponsors who reside in the province of Quebec.

Basic requirements are food, clothing, shelter and other needs for everyday living. Dental care, eye care and other health needs not covered by public health services are also included. The Undertaking guarantees that the principal applicant will not have to apply for social assistance.

By virtue of Regulation 131 R (131) of the IRPA, the sponsor’s undertaking shall be given

  • To the Minister or;
  • If the sponsor resides in a province that has entered into an agreement referred to in subsection 8(1) of the Act that enables the province to determine and apply financial criteria with respect to sponsorship undertakings, to the competent authority of the province.

Duration of the undertaking

The length or duration of the Undertaking is covered under R132 (1), (2) and (3) if the IRPA 2002. The table below illustrates the length of the undertaking pertaining to each sponsored family member. [Information in the table is obtained from Regulation 132(1), it is important to note that a provincial undertaking is different, the table provided is for Federal Purposes].

Person sponsored Terms of undertaking

  • Spouse, common law partner, conjugal partner (R132(1)(b)(i)) 3 years from date of becoming a permanent resident
  • Dependent child of sponsor, or of sponsor’s spouse, common law partner or conjugal partner under 22 years of age at date of becoming a permanent resident (R132(1)(b)(ii)) 10 years or age 25, whichever comes first (from date of becoming a permanent resident)
  • under 22 years of age at date of becoming a permanent resident (R132(1)(b)(ii)) under 22 years of age at date of becoming a permanent resident (R132(1)(b)(ii)) 3 years (from date of becoming a permanent resident)
  • Any other person (e.g. parents, grandparents, dependent children of sponsor’s parents) – (R132(1)(b)(iv)) 10 years from date of becoming a permanent resident

The undertaking between the sponsor and the government shall not cease even if the sponsor fails to fulfill his obligations. In other words the undertaking continues to exist when a family member becomes a Canadian citizen, a couple gets a divorce, or a sponsor becomes unemployed. If a sponsored family member uses government programs, such as welfare, then the sponsor legally obliged to repay the government. The Sponsor will not be allowed to sponsor other family members until the debt is paid. IRPA Regulations R133 (sponsorship criteria and Bars clearly covers and describes the Bars to sponsorship, prohibiting the sponsorship of family members.

A compendious list pertaining to people who are prohibited from sponsoring their family member(s) is covered by Regulation 133 of the IRPA 2002 “Requirements for Sponsor”. This also applies to co-signors.

The Sponsor (and co-signer if applicable) must also sign a sponsorship agreement with the family member. The sponsor promises to support the family member and the family member premises to try to become self-supporting and “agrees to make reasonable efforts to provide for their basic requirements and those of their family members.

Application process

The application process involves two parts:

  1. If you are a citizen or permanent resident of Canada, you must apply to sponsor them.
  2. Your spouse, common-law or conjugal partner, or dependent children must also apply for permanent residence.

If you sponsor your spouse or partner, and your dependent children as a group, all of their applications for permanent residence must be filled out at the same time to be mailed together.

The applications for both sponsorship and permanent residence should be filled out and sent at the same time. There are two steps to process the application forms:

The sponsorship application is processed by the Case Processing Centre (CPC) in Mississauga, Ontario (for family members living outside Canada), or the CPC in Vegreville, Alberta (for family members living inside Canada).

If you are approved as a sponsor, the permanent residence application is sent to the appropriate Canadian visa office.

If you live in Quebec, you must also meet Quebec immigration sponsorship requirements.

Key information

Application submitted to: CPC Mississauga CPC Vegreville

Sponsorship eligibility assessed at: CPC-M, after about a month CPC-V, after about 8-9 months

Relationship eligibility assessed at: Overseas embassy, once application is transferred there CPC-V, at the same time as the sponsorship assessment

If relationship is assessed positively: Overseas embassies do not notify you at this stage, but there should be a note in CAIPS. Approval In Principle is granted. Applicant is eligible for an open work permit.

If relationship is not assessed positively: Embassy will request more information, and/or schedule an interview. CPC-V transfers the file to local CIC office. Additional processing and/or interview in this case may take years. If eventually assessed positively, local CIC issues approval in principle.

Admissibility checks initiated by: Overseas embassy CPC-V (although it seems to vary whether or not they start the admissibility checks before or after approval in principle)

Once admissibility checks are complete: Embassy issues PR visa. CPC-V issues “decision made” and transfers file to local CIC office (or local office issues decision made if the file was already transferred before AIP)

Landing occurs: If applicant is outside Canada, on entry into Canada. If applicant is in Canada, either they leave Canada and re-enter or (optionally) land at local CIC after requesting an appointment. At local CIC (they schedule an appointment)

How to apply?

1. Obtain an application package

You will need an application package for sponsorship and an application package for permanent residence for your spouse, common-law or conjugal partner, or dependent child.

Don't forget!

Depending on whether your relatives live inside or outside Canada, the application packages for sponsorship and permanent residence are different. We recommend that you contact us prior to taking any decision pertaining to the appropriate sponsorship route.

If your spouse, partner or accompanying dependent child lives with you in Canada, use the Application for Permanent Residence in Canada—Spouse or Common-law Partner:

If your spouse, partner or dependent child lives abroad, use the Application to Sponsor a Member of the Family Class:

Part 1: Sponsorship forms

  • Guide to sponsorship [IMM 3900]
  • Document Checklist [IMM 5491] (PDF, 159 KB)
  • Application to Sponsor, Sponsorship Agreement and Undertaking [IMM 1344] (PDF, 356 KB)
  • Sponsorship Evaluation [IMM 5481] (PDF, 110 KB)
  • Statutory Declaration of Common-Law Union [IMM 5409] (PDF, 97 KB)
  • Sponsor Questionnaire [IMM 5540] (PDF, 160 KB)
  • Use of a Representative [IMM 5476] (PDF, 55 KB)

Part 2: Immigration forms

  • Guide to Immigrating [IMM 3999]
  • Generic Application Form for Canada [IMM 0008] (PDF, 536 KB)
  • Additional Dependants/Declaration [IMM 0008DEP] (PDF, 472 KB)
  • Schedule A – Background/Declaration [IMM 5669] (PDF, 170 KB)
  • Additional Family Information [IMM 5406] (PDF, 88 KB)
  • Sponsored Spouse/Partner Questionnaire [IMM 5490] (PDF, 142 KB)
  • Use of a Representative [IMM 5476] (PDF, 55 KB)

Part 3: Information guides

Specific instructions that sponsored relatives must follow vary according to their place of residence.

2. Complete the application forms and attach the necessary documents

Use the instructions in the guide to help you fill out the application form. Be sure to provide all the documents listed in the Document Checklist. If information or documents are missing, your application may be delayed.

As the sponsor, you will sign an agreement that commits you to supporting your spouse, common-law or conjugal partner for three years. If you sponsor a dependent child, you will commit to supporting the child for 10 years or until the child is 25 years old, whichever comes first.

Your spouse, common-law or conjugal partner must promise to make every effort to become self-supporting.

If you sponsor your dependent children who are not accompanying your spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner, you will have to complete a separate application and pay the applicable fees for each of these children.

Have the person(s) you are sponsoring complete the application for permanent residence.
To pay your fees at a financial institution in Canada, you must:

  • Obtain an original payment receipt form (IMM 5401). Order it online or contact our Office in order to get assistance.
  • Fill the receipt form and bring it with you when you go to pay your fees.
  • Include the completed payment receipt form (IMM 5401) with your application.

If you live outside Canada, you must:

  • Pay your fees on the Internet, or
  • Obtain an international money order or bank draft, in Canadian funds, made payable to the Receiver General for Canada. On the front of the money order or draft, write the financial institutions’ name, complete address (not a post office box number) and account number(s).
  • Submit the money order or draft with your application
  • Contact our Agents overseas that will guide and assist you with the process.

3. Mail the application and documents

The application package has the address you need for mailing your application to the Case Processing Centre (CPC) in Mississauga, Ontario (for family members living outside Canada) or CPC in Vegreville, Alberta (for family members living inside Canada).