Author: Yan Desjardins, Founder and Executive Director.
The Family Class Sponsorship program allows Canadian Citizens and Permanent Residents of Canada to sponsor eligible family members.
For families, this is the easiest way to immigrate to Canada and be reunited under one roof.
But, an application for sponsorship does not mean a guarantee to Canada. If the sponsorship application is approved, a permanent residence visa is issued to all the members included in the application to immigrate to Canada as a whole family.
However, you can only sponsor certain family members. There are three main categories of sponsorships.
- The Spouse, Common-Law Partner and dependent children category;
- The Parents and Grand-Parents category and;
- The Adoption and Other relatives category.
Before we get into the different program categories in greater detail, let’s take a quick look at who can qualify as a sponsor.
Who can sponsor?
The first and most important criteria to be eligible to sponsor is being either a Canadian Citizen or a Permanent Resident of Canada. These are the only two groups of people eligible.
Then the sponsor must demonstrate good past conduct and, in some cases, provide sufficient income to support a sponsorship application.
During the sponsorship application process, the sponsor will sign an ‘undertaking agreement’ (a contract) with the Government of Canada to support the family member he/she/they are sponsoring. This agreement is binding and cannot be cancelled.
What are the requirements to qualify?
Good question. To qualify as a sponsor, you’ll need to
- Be a Canadian Citizen or Permanent resident;
- Be at least 18 years old;
- Reside in Canada.
- This requirement only applies to Permanent Residents. Canadian Citizens living abroad do not need to reside in Canada to qualify.
- File an undertaking and sponsorship application.
- Not have a removal order issued against you (for permanent residents)
- Not be detained;
- Not have been convicted of an offence of sexual nature, an offence using violence, or causing bodily harm to your spouse and your family.
- Not be under an undischarged bankruptcy or receiving social assistance;
Don’t worry. It may seem like a lot, but all of the requirements can be demonstrated with a few documents. You can also contact a licensed and reputable Canadian immigration consultant if you need any help.
Can you be excluded as a sponsor?
Yes, you can. Once again, signing an undertaking for sponsorship does not automatically mean a guarantee to Canada.
People who immigrated to Canada under the spouse/common-law partner class and obtained permanent residence cannot sponsor a new spouse for 5 years after becoming a permanent resident.
Who in my family can I sponsor?
Now let’s jump back to the 3 main categories seen earlier.
Your spouse, common-law or conjugal partner.
This category who wish to immigrate to Canada as a couple. You are either legally married or currently living in a common-law or a conjugal relationship.
In Canada, same-sex unions are recognized and included. Whether you had a religious ceremony or visited the courthouse to tie the knot, your marriage must be registered and legal and be of good faith.
Your undertaking agreement for this person will be in effect for 3 years.
As you may already know, other types of unions are also recognized in Canada.
The Common-Law Partners
If you and your partner have cohabitation officially together for at least 12 months, then you will meet the definition of a family member and be eligible to apply for a visa to immigrate to Canada as a couple.
Common-law partners are not married, but they share a life together, including joint assets. If you and your partner have lived more than 12 months together at any given period in the past, or you are currently living together, then you can qualify for the sponsorship application.
The Conjugal Partners
If you and your partner have been separated for reasons outside of your control (civil war, immigration barriers, persecution, LGBTQ and human rights) and you cannot be reunited to live together, then you may be considered a conjugal partner and be allowed to immigrate to Canada as a couple.
You will need to demonstrate that your relationship is genuine and has been ongoing for some time. You will also demonstrate that your relationship is known and lived publicly (unless facing persecution for religion or sexual orientation) amongst your community and family.
When applying to sponsor, your partner can include yours/their dependent children in the application (see the section below on children). If approved, the applicant and all dependents will get a visa to immigrate to Canada as a whole family.
These applications tend to be more complex so we highly recommend the help of a reputable Canadian immigration consultant. Contact us, we can help!
Your Dependent Children.
Children under the age of 22 are eligible to be sponsored.
In the case where you have decided not to immigrate to Canada as a couple, you may now want to sponsor your family to Canada. You can either sponsor your children separately or include them with your spouse/partner sponsorship application.
If you have recently married and your spouse living abroad has children under the age of 22, they can also be included in the application to obtain a visa. Your sponsor obligations would apply to them too.
Unless your spouse overseas has full legal custody of the children, the non-accompanying parent will need to sign a release to allow the children to move to Canada.
Your Parents and Grand-Parents.
To be eligible to sponsor our parents and grandparents, you will need to demonstrate that you (the sponsor) meet the minimum eligible income necessary. The calculation is based on your current family size, including your spouse or partners and children, and the number of persons you are sponsoring.
Visit the Government of Canada website for more information.
When you apply, your parents can include your siblings in the application and as long as they are under 22 years of age at the time of application. Otherwise, a brother or sister can no longer be sponsored. When you sign the undertaking agreement you will be responsible for your family for the next 20 years.
The program is like a lottery. Each year the government of Canada opens an online portal for sponsors to register their intent to make an application. Also each year, the government sets a maximum number of applications it will receive for this program.
The program has been so popular over the years that the quota was often reached in the portal within as fast as 15 minutes. It is therefore not a program that is easy to qualify for. Once you have successfully been selected, you can start the sponsorship process. If you have not been selected, you must until the next round the year after.
Alternatively, if you and your parents and grandparents would like to reunite faster, they may qualify for the super visa that can allow them to stay in Canada for up to 2 years at a time. Check ourt our website for more information.
Your Adopted child and other relatives.
When an international adoption takes place, the child is sponsored to Canada by the Canadian citizen or permanent resident parent. This process ensures that the immigration of the child is done in a safe and controlled manner.
If you have a sibling, a nephew or a niece, or a grandchild that is orphaned and under the age of 18 years, you may be eligible to sponsor that person.
These applications also tend to be more complex. We highly recommend the help of a reputable Canadian immigration consultant. Contact us, we can help!
What are the next steps?
Once you’ve determined that you qualify as a sponsor, it’s time for your family members to start gathering their documents and apply for a permanent residence visa.
Start by ensuring that everyone’s passports are valid for an extended period of time. Also make sure that everyone’s identity papers are in order.
Keep reading our subsequent blogs on our website. We’ve created step-by-step guides to walk you and your spouse/partner through each of the categories.
Do you need help with your sponsorship application?
It’s not always easy to navigate through the different immigration processes. Northern Road Canada is a registered and licensed consultancy firm that can help you and your loved ones with the application process.
Ready to find out if you qualify? You can use our self-assessment tool at any time and get a free assessment.
Let us accompany you at every step of the way.