Types of Family Sponsorships in Canada

Types of Family Sponsorship in Canada

Under Canada’s Family Sponsorship Program, permanent residents, citizens, or a person registered as an Indian under the Canadian Indian Act can sponsor certain family members to immigrate to Canada. However, you must be eligible to sponsor and meet all of the other requirements in the application process.

For certain applications, you may have to prove that you are capable of financially providing for the person or persons you are sponsoring. This includes parental and grandparent sponsorships. Becoming a sponsor in Canada means signing an undertaking, which is a binding promise of financial support for a certain period of time. The period of time varies depending on the family member you are sponsoring. The sponsor agrees to provide for the applicant’s basic needs. However, in some cases, such as spouse, partner, or child sponsorship, there is no income requirement to sponsor.

In addition, to be eligible to sponsor, you must be living in Canada or have to prove that you plan to live in Canada with the person you are sponsoring if you are a Canadian citizen living outside of the country. Furthermore, you will not be eligible to sponsor if you have been convicted of a violent crime, any sexual related offense, or crimes that resulted in bodily harm to a relative. The person you are sponsoring must also be admissible to Canada. They might be criminally or medically inadmissible if they have been convicted of certain offenses outside Canada or have a medical condition that poses a risk to public health and safety.

Listed below are brief descriptions of who you can sponsor to Canada and the eligibility requirements for those applications:

Spousal or Partner Sponsorship

The most familiar type of family sponsorship application is the one where a Canadian permanent resident, citizen, or registered Indian sponsors their partner to Canada. In Canada, differing relationship types can still mean that you can sponsor your loved one, for example, you can sponsor your spouse, common–law partner, or conjugal partner. Regardless of the application, all applicants being sponsored must be at least 18 years old.

For each application, you must prove that you meet the relationship requirements. For example:

  • To sponsor your spouse, you must prove that you are legally married to them.
  • To sponsor your common-law partner, you must prove that you have lived with your partner in a conjugal relationship for twelve consecutive months without any extended periods of time apart.
  • To sponsor your conjugal partner, you must prove that you have been in a relationship for at least a year and that your partner, who lives outside of Canada, cannot live with you in their country of residence or marry you because of significant legal and immigration reasons. This includes, issues with their marital status where they are still married to someone else because divorce in their country is not possible, issues related to sexual orientation because same-sex relationships are not accepted or may even be illegal, or issues related to persecution if your relationship is between differing religious groups that will not be accepted legally or socially.

Additionally, with a spouse or partner sponsorship, you will have to provide proof that your relationship is genuine. As part of the forms required for the application, you will have to explain your relationship development, including how you met, when you met, forms of communication, friends/family support…etc. You will also have to provide documentation to prove aspects of your relationship. If you are living together, then you will have to provide at least two sets of documents proving that you are currently sharing the same address. This can include your rental agreement, joint utility account statements, tax documents, or copies of government-issued identity documents.

If you are not living together, then you will have to provide proof of contact (e.g., letters, text message conversations, call logs, social media conversations…etc.) and proof that the sponsor visits the applicant (e.g., flight confirmation emails, boarding passes, passport exit/entry stamps…etc.).

Sponsoring Your Parents/Grandparents

To sponsor your own parents or grandparents, you must first submit your notice of interest in the Parents and Grandparents Program. The application process typically opens once every year to let eligible citizens and permanent residents sponsor their parents or grandparents to come to Canada. However, the last time the “interest to sponsor” form was made available was in 2020. Anyone who did not submit an “interest to sponsor” form back in October-November 2020 will have to wait until the form becomes available again.

Those who submitted their interest in 2020 became part of the pool of potential sponsors. The government of Canada then randomly selects and invites potential sponsors to apply for sponsorship. For the 2022 process, the Government of Canada invited 23,100 potential sponsors from the 2020 pool to apply. If you are invited to apply, you must submit your application package by the deadline listed in your invitation.

In general, you can sponsor your parents and grandparents regardless of their current marital status. If they are divorced, then you will have to submit separate applications where their current spouse or partner is listed as a dependent. You can also include siblings on the application if they qualify as a dependent child to your parents.

Most importantly, you must meet the income requirement for all the people you want to sponsor and their dependents. This is because, as a sponsor, you will be providing financial support for those family members for 20 years.

Income Requirements for Sponsorship

For a rough outline of the income required in the three years previous to the sponsorship application, please see the below chart taken 2022 process:

Total # of Family Members (including the sponsor and any existing dependents)Total Income from 2021 Tax YearTotal Income from 2020 Tax YearTotal Income from 2019 Tax Year
For every additional person, add:$7,120$6,985$8,876
Family Sponsorship Form

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Child Sponsorships

You can sponsor your foreign-born dependent child or children for permanent residence if they meet the following definitions:

  • They are under 22 years old and do not have a spouse or common-law partner (Type A Dependents).
  • They are 22 years old or older if they have always depended on their parents for financial support AND they are unable to financially support themselves because of a mental or physical condition (Type C Dependents).

If they qualify as a dependent child, then you can sponsor your own child or children. Depending on your individual family circumstances, you will have to show that the other parent or legal guardian has allowed the child to immigrate to Canada. You can also sponsor the dependent children of your dependent child (i.e., your grandchildren) if they meet the definition above. Additionally, you can sponsor the children of your spouse or partner.

However, if you wish to sponsor an adopted child or an orphaned family member then the process for sponsorship will be different. For children being adopted from another country, you must go through both the adoption process and the immigration process. Canada’s immigration process allows for two types of intercountry adoption, those that will be completed outside of Canada and those that will be completed in Canada. Regardless of the type of intercountry adoption, all adoptions must:

  • Be legal in the child’s home country and in Canada.
  • Sever the legal relationship between your adopted child and their biological parents.
  • Meet Canadian provincial or territorial requirements for adoption.
  • Be genuine.
  • Be in the best interests of the child.

The primary goal for the adoption cannot be to facilitate permanent residency status for the child.

In cases where you want to sponsor an orphaned child of a close relative. The orphan child must be under the age of eighteen and must be your sibling, nephew, niece, or grandchild.

Undeclared Family Sponsorship

In Canada, when someone applies for permanent residence, all family members must be declared on the application as some may need to be examined by the Government of Canada. Being examined means that although they were not coming to Canada, they still need to provide security/criminal checks and a medical exam. This is because having one family member that is inadmissible to Canada can make every member of that family inadmissible regardless of whether they were accompanying you to Canada or not.

By failing to disclose information about a non-accompanying family member makes them ‘undeclared.’ If you failed to have a non-accompanying family member examined, then you would be banned from sponsoring them. This was a lifetime bar. However, due to concerns about disproportionate impacts of the lifetime bar, the Government of Canada started a pilot project in 2019 that allows undeclared family members to be sponsored.

This pilot project only applies to family members who would not have made their sponsor ineligible to immigrate to Canada in the first place. In order to be eligible:

  1. You must be applying to be sponsored as a spouse, common-law partner, or dependent child.
  2. You were not declared or examined when your sponsor became a permanent resident.
  3. Your sponsor became a permanent resident as either a refugee or a dependent of a refugee/protected person, or after they were sponsored as a spouse, common-law partner, conjugal partner, or dependent child.

How We Can Help

The Immigration Law Firm of Matthew Jeffery specializes in family sponsorship. Fill out our FREE ASSESSMENT form to see if you and your relatives are qualified for Family Sponsorship. You can also contact us for further information.