Keeping families together
The family class sponsorship allows Canadian citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their dependent children, spouses, parents, grandparents. Canada strongly supports keeping families together whenever possible. Family reunification remains one of the pillars of the Canadian immigration system.
To be eligible, the person seeking sponsorship must be a:
- Spouse, common-law or conjugal partner
- Dependent child
- De fact family member: Sibling, nephew, niece, or grandchild under 18 years who is unmarried and whose parents are deceased
The person sponsored must live outside Canada, unless they are residing legally in Canada temporarily, for example with a work or study permit.
Available family sponsorship programs in Canada
The family class sponsorship process of Canadian immigration differs depending on where the Sponsored Person is currently residing and where they intend to reside in Canada.
You may be eligible to sponsor a spouse or a common-law or conjugal partner or dependent children living outside of Canada if:
- The person you want to sponsor is a member of the family class;
- You are 18 years of age or older;
- You are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident;
- You reside in Canada.
- If you are a Canadian citizen not residing in Canada, you may sponsor your spouse, common-law or conjugal partner and/or dependent children who have no dependent children of their own. You must demonstrate that you will live in Canada once they become a permanent resident.
- You sign an undertaking promising to provide for the basic requirements of the person being sponsored and, if applicable, their dependent children.
- You and the person being sponsored sign an agreement that confirms that each of you understands your mutual obligations and responsibilities.
An Outland application is generally pursued when the sponsored partner is living outside of Canada. However, Outland applicants can still be in Canada and apply through the Outland program and may be permitted to travel in and out of Canada throughout the application process. Outland applications are processed through the visa office that serves the applicant’s country of origin or country of residence.
Inland sponsorship is when the couple is together in Canada and the foreign spouse has temporary status in Canada, either as a worker, student, or visitor. The person being sponsored may be eligible for an Open Work Permit, allowing him or her to work for any employer in Canada while the sponsorship application is being processed.
Canadian citizens and permanent residents may bring their parents and grandparents to Canada through one of two popular programs: the Parents and Grandparents Program or the Super Visa program.
Canada’s Family Class sponsorship program includes a stream dedicated to parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens and permanent residents. Parents and grandparents approved under this program receive Canadian permanent residence and may eventually be able to apply for Canadian citizenship.
To be eligible for Canada’s Parents and Grandparents Program, an individual must meet:
- be a Canadian citizen, permanent resident of Canada
- be residing in Canada
- exceed the minimum necessary income level for this program and provide proof of income
- to financially support the sponsored for 20 years; and
- to repay any social assistance benefits paid to the sponsored family members (if applicable) for a period of 20 years.
Applicants to this program will have to prove that they meet the minimum income requirements by submitting notices of assessment issued by the Canadian Revenue Agency in support of their application.
Parents and Grandparents Super Visa Program
Canadian citizens or permanent residents have another option to bring a parent or grandparent to Canada.
The Super Visa Program allows parents and grandparents to come to Canada as long-term visitors on a multi-entry visa that remains valid for up to 10 years. Unlike standard visitor visas, a Super Visa allows visa holders to stay in Canada for up to two years on initial entry to Canada.
To be eligible for the Super Visa program, parents and grandparents must meet standard visitor visa requirements. In addition, they must:
- Provide a written commitment of financial support from their child or grandchild in Canada
- Show that the sponsor in Canada meets minimum income requirements
- Prove they have purchased Canadian health insurance for at least one year
If you are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident and have a dependent child abroad that you would like to bring to Canada, you likely may do so under Canada’s dependent child sponsorship program. As with all sponsorship programs, it is important that the dependent child meets the eligibility requirements and that the sponsor themselves meet Canada’s sponsorship requirements.
Requirements for the Sponsor:
- The sponsor must be 18 years of age;
- The sponsor must be a Canadian permanent resident living in Canada or a Canadian citizen; and
- The sponsor cannot be in prison, bankrupt, under a removal order or charged with a serious offense.
Requirements for the Sponsored Person:
- The sponsored person must be in one of the following situations of dependency
- Less than 22 years of age and not a spouse or common-law partner; or
- Is 22 years of age or older and has depended substantially on the financial support of the parent since before the age of 22 and is unable to be financially self-supporting due to a physical or mental condition
Requirements for nature of the relationship:
- The Sponsored Person must be either:
- The biological child of the parent if the child has not been adopted by a person other than the spouse or common-law partner; or
- The adopted child of the parent.
De facto family members
De facto family members are persons who do not meet the definition of a family class member. They are in a situation of dependence that makes them a de facto member of a nuclear family that is either in Canada or applying to immigrate. Some examples: a son, daughter (over age 19), brother or sister left alone in the country of origin without a family of their own; an elderly relative such as an aunt or uncle or an unrelated person who has resided with the family for a long time. Also included may be children in a guardianship relationship when adoption as described in subsection 3(2) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations is not possible. Separation of persons in such a genuine dependent relationship may be grounds for a positive assessment.
You should determine whether compelling H&C reasons exist to allow such persons to immigrate to Canada by considering:
- whether the dependency is bona fide and not created for immigration purposes
- the level of dependency
- the stability of the relationship
- the duration of the relationship
- the possible impact of a separation
- the financial and emotional needs of the applicant in relation to the family unit
- the ability and willingness of the family in Canada to provide support
- the applicant’s other options, such as family (spouse, children, parents, siblings, etc.) outside Canada able and willing to provide support
- documentary evidence about the relationship (e.g., joint bank accounts or real estate holdings, other joint property ownership, wills, insurance policies, letters from friends and family)
- whether the applicant would have difficulty meeting financial or emotional needs without the support and assistance of the family unit
- any other factors relevant to the H&C decision.
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