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May 16, 2024

Can a Canadian Citizen Sponsor a Family Member?

You may be able to sponsor family members for Canadian permanent residency; the specific process will vary, depending on the family member.

Your Eligibility

There are general eligibility requirements, although additional requirements apply based on whom you sponsor. Generally, you need to be able to support sponsored family members financially so they don’t need social assistance from the government.

To sponsor someone, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old and a Canadian citizen, status-holding permanent resident, or registered under the Canadian Indian Act.
  • Intend to reside in Canada when your sponsored family members become permanent residents. Permanent residents living abroad cannot sponsor.
  • Abide by the sponsorship agreement’s terms, along with your sponsored family members.
  • Be financially independent, except for any disability-related social assistance and able to provide for your sponsored family’s basic needs.
  • Adhere to your sponsorship agreement. Under this, you agree to support your sponsored family members for a specified period of time while they work towards self-sufficiency. It starts when they become permanent residents. This includes repaying any social assistance they receive. The time period depends on your sponsored person’s age and relationship to you, but typically ranges from three years for a spouse to 20 years for parents or grandparents. Even in situations such as divorce, family disputes, unemployment, or the death of the principal applicant, you are still bound to it.

You might be ineligible if you:

  • Have a pending sponsorship application for them
  • Are incarcerated
  • Have outstanding debts such as immigration loans, performance bonds, or court-ordered family support payments
  • Failed to fulfill agreed financial support obligations in a previous sponsorship agreement
  • Are bankrupt and not discharged (except Quebec)
  • Receive non-disability social assistance
  • Have convictions for violent, domestic, or sexual offences
  • Are required to leave Canada due to a Removal Order, among other possible reasons.

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

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Eligibility of the People You’re Sponsoring

Your sponsored family members must meet eligibility requirements and apply too, submitting all necessary forms and documents, and completing other requirements such as medical exams and biometrics.

Spouse, Partner or Dependent Children

When sponsoring a spouse, partner, or dependent child, there’s generally no income requirement. However, if the sponsored dependent child has their own dependent children or if the sponsored spouse/partner has a dependent child with their own dependent children, you must demonstrate sufficient financial capability.

You might not be able to sponsor your spouse or partner if you:

  • Were granted permanent residency through a spouse or partner less than five years ago.
  • Are still financially responsible for a sponsored spouse or partner.

Also, you might not be eligible to sponsor your spouse, partner, or child if you have:

  • Already applied to sponsor the same family member and are waiting for a decision.
  • Not paid off immigration loans, performance bonds, or court-ordered family support payments (except in Quebec).
  • Not met past sponsorship agreement obligations or are currently bankrupt.
  • Been receiving social assistance not related to disability.
  • Convictions for specific criminal offences, like violent or sexual crimes.
  • A Removal Order.

There could be other conditions as well.

You can sponsor your spouse, common-law partner, conjugal partner, and dependent children.

Your spouse must be legally married to you and at least 18. Your common-law partner can be of any gender and must have been living with you continuously for at least 12 months in a conjugal relationship. A conjugal partner, of any gender, who’s not a spouse or common-law partner, must be at least 18, have been in a relationship with you for at least a year, and live outside Canada. If they can’t live with you or marry you due to legal or immigration barriers, such as marital status, sexual orientation, or persecution, you’ll need to provide evidence of these barriers.

Children qualify as dependents if they’re under 22 years old and unmarried or older than 22 if they’re financially dependent due to a mental or physical condition and relied on their parents before turning 22.

If eligible, you can sponsor your own child, who may already be a Canadian citizen if you are.

If sponsoring only your child, without a spouse or partner, they’ll be the principal applicant, and you’ll need consent from the other parent or legal guardian. If your child has their own child, include them as a dependent. If sponsoring your spouse or partner and their child, your spouse or partner is the principal applicant, and the child is a dependent. 

happy young mother with her daughter

Adopted Child

Sponsoring an adopted child involves separate processes of adoption and immigration, with immigration including sponsorship and permanent residence applications. After the child gains permanent residency in Canada, citizenship can be pursued after the adoption is finalized.

Intercountry adoptions primarily occur in the child’s home country, subject to varying foreign adoption laws and procedures. If adopting a relative, different rules from provinces, territories, or the child’s country of origin may apply. For adoption within Canada, contact your provincial or territorial adoption authority.

Relatives

Under the Family Class, you can sponsor specific relatives to immigrate to Canada. However, sponsoring an orphaned sibling, nephew, niece, or grandchild requires them to be under 18, single, with both parents having passed away.

You cannot sponsor your brother, sister, nephew, niece, or grandchild if one parent is alive, their parents’ whereabouts are unknown, they were abandoned, or someone else is caring for them. If a parent is incarcerated, sponsorship isn’t possible.

If you have no eligible relatives to sponsor, you may sponsor one relative of any age. If this relative has a spouse, partner, or dependent children, they must be included in the same application.

Parents or Grandparents

To sponsor your parents and grandparents, you need an invitation to apply. They must be your biological or adopted relatives. If you sponsor divorced parents or grandparents, separate applications are required. Their current spouse, common-law partner, or conjugal partner can also immigrate if approved. You can include siblings, half-siblings, or step-siblings in the application if they meet dependent child criteria. Meeting income requirements is necessary for all sponsored individuals and their dependents.

Immigration representatives, such as immigration consultants like Oro Immigration, can help you with your application. We’ll guide you, help prepare documents, and communicate with immigration authorities on your behalf, to ensure no unnecessary blocks.

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