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Home » Immigration Categories » Immigration to Canada » Family / Spousal Sponsorships

Family / Spousal Sponsorships

Family Spousal SponsorshipEffective October 25, 2012, sponsored spouses or partners must now live together in a legitimate relationship with their sponsor for two years from the day they receive permanent residence status in Canada.

If you are a spouse or partner being sponsored to come to Canada, this applies to you if:

  • You are being sponsored by a permanent resident or Canadian citizen
  • You have been in a relationship for two years or less with your sponsor
  • You have no children in common
  • Your application was received on or after October 25, 2012

If you are a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada, you can sponsor your spouse, conjugal or common-law partner, dependent child (including adopted child) or other eligible relative to become a permanent resident under the Family Class (FC).

If your family member is a permanent resident, they can live, study and work in Canada.

There are two different processes for sponsoring your family under the Family Class. One process is used for sponsoring your spouse, conjugal or common-law partner and/or dependent children. Another process is used to sponsor other eligible relatives.

Sponsor your spouse, partner or dependent children

If you are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, you may sponsor your spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner, or dependent children to come to Canada as permanent residents.

If you sponsor a family member to come to Canada as a permanent resident, you must make every reasonable effort to provide for your own essential needs and those of your family. You are responsible for supporting your relative financially when he or she arrives. As a sponsor, you must make sure your spouse or relative does not need to seek social assistance from the government.

Sponsor your other eligible relatives

If you are a citizen or permanent resident of Canada, you may be able to sponsor certain relatives to become a permanent resident under the Family Class (FC).

If you sponsor a relative to come to Canada as a permanent resident, you must make every reasonable effort to provide for your own essential needs and those of your relative. You are responsible for supporting your relative financially when he or she arrives. As a sponsor, you must make sure your spouse or relative does not need to seek social assistance from the government.

Under the Immigration Act, citizens and permanent residents of Canada may sponsor members of the family class. As defined by regulation, members of the family class include:

  • your spouse, common-law partner, or conjugal partner
  • dependent child, including an adopted child whose adoption took place outside Canada and at the time of the adoption you were living exclusively outside Canada or had not yet become a permanent resident of Canada
  • children adopted outside of Canada or intended to be adopted in Canada
  • Note: Canada’s citizenship law was amended to allow Canadian citizens who adopt a child from a foreign country the option of applying for Canadian citizenship for their adopted child without first having to apply for permanent residence.
  • parents
  • grandparents
  • brothers or sisters, nephews or nieces, grandsons or granddaughters who are orphaned, under 18 years of age and not a spouse or common-law partner
  • any other family member if there is no spouse, common-law or conjugal partner, son, daughter, mother, father, brother, sister, grandfather, grandmother, uncle, aunt, niece or nephew who is a Canadian citizen, registered Indian or permanent resident or whom you may sponsor.

Spouses, common-law partners and conjugal partners

You can sponsor a person as your spouse if that person is married to you and the marriage is a legally valid civil marriage. If your spouse is of the
You can sponsor a person as your common-law partner if

  • you and that other person have cohabited in a conjugal relationship for a period of at least one year, and
  • your relationship with that person is continuing, even though you are temporarily living apart.

You can sponsor a person as a conjugal partner if

  • that person is residing outside Canada (that is, has, for legal purposes, a fixed, permanent and principal home outside Canada), and
  • you have maintained a conjugal relationship with that person for at least one year, that is you have been in a committed and mutually interdependent relationship of some permanence where you have combined your affairs to the extent possible.

The conjugal partner category is intended for partners of Canadian sponsors who would ordinarily apply as

  • common-law partners but cannot meet the definition, that is were not able to live together continuously for one year with their sponsor, or
  • spouses, but marriage to their sponsor is usually not an available option to them,
    usually because of marital status, combined with an immigration barrier (for example, rules preventing partner and sponsor of long stays in one another’s countries).

If your sponsorship is successful, your conjugal partner becomes a permanent resident of Canada but cannot exercise any rights or privileges associated with common-law status until you have cohabited for at least one year.
Note: There is no provision for fiancé(e)s in Canada’s immigration legislation. If you are the fiancé(e) of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, you must marry before the immigration process takes place. Conjugal partners are not fiancé(e)s and are not fiancé-like (that is, intending to live together and begin a conjugal relationship).

Excluded relationships

You cannot sponsor a person as your spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner if

  • that person is under 16 years of age;
  • you are a permanent resident or a naturalized citizen of Canada and at the time you made your application for permanent residence, that person was a non-accompanying family member, former spouse or common-law partner and was not examined; or
  • you previously sponsored another spouse, a common-law partner or a conjugal partner and three years have not passed since that spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner became a permanent resident.

Further, you cannot sponsor a person as your spouse

  • if you or this person were the spouse of another person at the time of your marriage, or
  • if you have lived separate and apart from this person for at least one year and
    A. you are the common-law or conjugal partner of another person, or
    B. the person you want to sponsor is the common-law partner of another person or the conjugal partner of another sponsor.

Dependent children

Your child or a child of the person you are sponsoring will be considered a dependent child if that child
A. is under the age of 22 and not married or in a common-law relationship; or
B. married or entered into a common-law relationship before the age 22 and, since becoming a spouse or a common-law partner, has

  • been continuously enrolled and in attendance as a full-time student in a post secondary institution accredited by the relevant government authority and
  • depended substantially on the financial support of a parent; or

is 22 years of age or older and, since before the age of 22, has

  • been continuously enrolled and in attendance as a full-time student in a post secondary institution accredited by the relevant government authority and
  • depended substantially on the financial support of a parent; or

C. is 22 years of age or older, has depended substantially on the financial support of a parent since before the age of 22 and is unable to provide for him/herself due to a medical condition.
Dependent children must meet the above requirements both on the day the Case Processing Centre in Mississauga (CPC-M), Ontario, receives a complete application for a permanent resident visa and, without taking into account whether they have attained 22 years of age, on the day a visa is issued to them.

In Canada Spouses Class

On February 18, 2005, the Minister of Immigration announced a new public policy under which legal immigration status is no longer a requirement for spouses and common-law partners of Canadian citizens and permanent residents in Canada, who wish to apply for permanent resident status provided that they have an eligible sponsor. However, all other eligibility requirements continue to apply. In addition, to be able to continue to work and study in Canada, an application for extension must be received by CIC before the work or study permit has expired.

Sponsor’s financial obligations

When you sponsor persons who are members of the family class, you must sign an undertaking with the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration (or with the Ministère de l’Immigration et des Communautés culturelles (MICC) if you live in Quebec) promising to provide financial support for their basic requirements and those of their family members immigrating to Canada with them. Basic requirements are food, clothing, shelter and other basic requirements for everyday living. Dental care, eye care and other health needs not covered by public health services are also included. The undertaking ensures these persons and their family members do not have to apply for social assistance. Its length varies according to their age and/or their relationship to you. Your obligations as a sponsor begin as soon as the person you are sponsoring and, if applicable, his or her family members arrive in Canada. The following table shows when your obligations end.

If that person or his or her family member is Your obligations end
your spouse or your common-law or conjugal partner three years after that person becomes a permanent resident
your dependent child or a dependent child of your spouse, common-law or conjugal partner and under 22 years of age on the day he or she becomes a permanent resident ten years after that child becomes a permanent resident or on the day that child reaches age 25, whichever comes first
your dependent child or a dependent child of your spouse, common-law or conjugal partner and 22 years of age or over on the day he or she becomes a permanent resident three years after that child becomes a permanent resident
any other person (e.g., your father, your mother, your grandparents or a dependent child of your parents) ten years after that person becomes a permanent resident

 If payments from a federal, provincial or municipal assistance program are made during the validity period of the undertaking to the person you are sponsoring or his or her family members, you

  • will be considered to be in default of your obligations,
  • may have to repay to the government concerned any benefits they received, and
  • will not be allowed to sponsor other members of the family class until you have reimbursed the amount of these payments to the government concerned.

Who can sponsor?

You may be eligible to sponsor 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;Canadian citizens not residing in Canada may sponsor their spouse, common-law partner, conjugal partner and/or dependent children who have no dependent children of their own. Canadians travelling abroad as tourists are not considered to be residing outside Canada.Sponsors not residing in Canada must provide evidence that they reside exclusively outside Canada on the date of giving the undertaking and will reside in Canada at the time their sponsored spouse, common-law partner, conjugal partner and/or children become permanent residents of Canada. Evidence that they will reside in Canada may include one or more of the following:
    • letter from an employer;
    • letter of acceptance to a Canadian educational institution;
    • proof of having rented/bought a dwelling in Canada;
    • reasonable plans for re-establishing in Canada or severing ties to the other country.
  • you sign an undertaking promising to provide for the basic requirements of the person being sponsored and, if applicable, his or her family members;
  • you and the person being sponsored sign an agreement that confirms that each of you understands your mutual obligations and responsibilities;
  • you have an income that is at least equal to the minimum necessary income, the amount of which is published yearly by the Canadian government.This condition does not apply if you are sponsoring only
    • your spouse, common-law or conjugal partner who has no dependent children, or
    • your spouse, common-law or conjugal partner whose dependent children have no children of their own, or
    • your dependent child who has no children of his or her own.

Who cannot sponsor?

You are not eligible to sponsor if you are in default of a previous sponsorship undertaking, of an immigration loan, of court ordered support payment obligations or of a performance bond (an amount you agreed to pay as a guarantee of performance of an obligation under the immigration legislation).

Default of a previous sponsorship undertaking means persons you sponsored in the past have received social assistance during the validity period of the undertaking.

Default of an immigration loan means you received a transportation, assistance or Right of Permanent Residence (previously Right of Landing) Fee loan and have not made a required payment or are in arrears with your loan payments.

Default of any court ordered support payment obligations means you were ordered by a court to make support payments to your spouse, common-law partner or child and have neglected to do so.

Default of a performance bond means you have not paid the sum of money that became payable to the Canadian government following a promise you made to pay this sum if the person specified in the performance bond that you signed or co-signed did not comply with the conditions imposed on him or her by immigration authorities.
If you are in default of a previous sponsorship, of an immigration loan, of court ordered support payment obligations or of a performance bond and you submit an application to sponsor, it will be refused even if you are sponsoring your spouse, common-law partner, conjugal partner, or child.

Also, you cannot sponsor a person for whom you have submitted a previous sponsorship application and no final determination has been made with respect to that application.
Additionally, you are ineligible to sponsor if:

  • you are in prison;
  • you are an undischarged bankrupt;
  • you are in receipt of social assistance for a reason other than disability;
  • you were convicted of a sexual offence or an offence against the person with respect toyou were adopted outside Canada and subsequently obtained a revocation of your adoption for the purpose of sponsoring an application for permanent residence by your biological parent;
    • one of your family members or relatives,
    • one of your spouse’s or common-law partner’s family members or relatives, or
    • your conjugal partner or one of your conjugal partner’s family members or relatives, unless you were granted a pardon or five years have passed after the expiration of the sentence imposed on you;
  • you are subject to a removal order; or
    have been convicted of a serious criminal offence, have provided false information to Immigration, or have not met conditions of entry.

All family members of a would-be immigrant, whether accompanying or not, must be examined. If you previously made an application for permanent residence and became a permanent resident of Canada, your family members who were not examined in accordance with Canadian Immigration Regulations at the time you made your application, are excluded from the family class and you may not sponsor them.

Our goal is to provide each client with a successful outcome by determining the most appropriate solution. If you would like to know whether you could be eligible to immigrate to Canada, we invite you to complete our online assessment questionnaire.

If you are interested in seeking professional assistance to guide you through the immigration process or if you have any questions, please contact us.

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