Spousal or Common Law Sponsorship

Family Class Sponsorship

How to Immigrate Through Family Class Sponsorship

If you have a family member living in Canada, you may be eligible to be sponsored to become a Canadian permanent resident.

Who is Eligible for Family Class Sponsorship?

Family sponsorship is a way to reunite families in Canada. In fact, the Canadian government believes in keeping families together, and prioritizes the processing of sponsorship applications.

There are many options for family members that are Canadian citizens or permanent residents to sponsor a family member living abroad, to become a permanent resident in Canada.

The Canadian family member may sponsor:

  • His or her spouse
  • Common-law partner
  • Conjugal partner
  • Dependent child
  • Adopted children
  • Parents
  • Grandparents

Requirements for a Sponsor

In addition to be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, the sponsor must also fulfill a few other requirements in order to be eligible.

The sponsor must:

  1. Prove that they will be able to financially support their family member and any dependent, if necessary;
  2. Enter into an agreement with the Government of Canada or Quebec, as well as the sponsored relative, where the sponsor will agree to support the family member for a certain amount of time. The sponsored relative must try to support themselves, as well;
  3. Either reside in Canada prove their intention to live in Canada when the sponsored relative arrives in Canada;
  4. Be at least 18 years old;
  5. Not be incarcerated or charged with a serious offence;
  6. Not be bankrupt; and
  7. Not be under a removal order if a Permanent Resident.

Spousal Sponsorship

Canadian citizens and permanent residents can sponsor their spouse (including common-law or conjugal partner), or dependant child to immigrate to Canada as a permanent resident. Both the sponsor and the sponsored person must meet certain requirements to qualify.

Who can sponsor?

Only Canadian citizens, permanent residents can sponsor their spouse or dependent child/ren. Temporary residents, including individuals with applications for permanent residence in process, are not eligible to sponsor their family members. Individuals who received permanent residence as a result of being sponsored by their spouse or partner are only eligible to sponsor if they became a permanent resident more than 5 years ago. In situations when marriages fail and individuals divorce (following a spousal sponsorship), sponsors wishing to sponsor another spouse must wait 3 years from the date the previous spouse became a permanent resident.

Sponsors must be 18 years of age or older, cannot be subject to a removal order, or be in prison and cannot be in receipt of social assistance (excluding disability). Sponsors must also have no outstanding sponsorship undertakings, immigration or court order debts, or undischarged bankruptcies. Individuals who were convicted of attempting, threatening to commit or committing a violent offence, of any offence against a family member, or of any sexual offence (either inside or outside of Canada) may not be eligible to act as a sponsor.

Canadian citizens can sponsor while residing outside of Canada, while the permanent residents must reside in Canada.

Undertaking a Sponsorship Agreement

As part of the sponsorship application, sponsors must include a signed undertaking and a sponsorship agreement. The undertaking commits the sponsor to providing financial support for the basic needs of the individual being sponsored for a period. This period varies depending on the age of the individual sponsored, their relationship to the sponsor and their place of settlement in Canada. For instance, sponsorship undertaking for a spouse is 3 years, for a child could be up to 10 years. Sponsors are also committing to repay any provincial social assistance received by the sponsored family member during the period of the undertaking. The undertaking is binding regardless of a change in the sponsors situation or in their relationship with the applicant.

Generally, income requirements are not imposed on individuals who seek to sponsor their spouse, partner or dependent child. However, sponsors must be able to financially support the sponsored persons or make suitable arrangements for their support. Sponsors must only demonstrate that they meet certain income requirements if: 1) they are sponsoring a dependent child who has 1 or more dependent children; or 2) they are sponsoring a spouse or partner with a dependent child who has 1 or more dependent children. Sponsors who fall within one of these categories must submit a Financial Evaluation form with the sponsorship application.

Please note that sponsors residing in Quebec are subject to different immigration sponsorship requirements. These sponsors are first assessed (and must be approved) by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and then by the province of Quebec. An undertaking is also specifically signed with the province of Quebec.

Who can apply as a sponsored person?

Spouses and partners who apply for permanent residence as a member of the family class must be at least 18 years of age and must not be inadmissible to Canada. Additionally:

  • Spouses must be legally married to the sponsor;
  • Common law partners must have been living with the sponsor for at least 12 consecutive months in a marriage-like relationship; and
  • Conjugal partners must have been in a relationship with the sponsor for at least 1 year and must be unable to either live with or marry their sponsor because of significant legal and immigration reasons (ie: where same sex relationships are illegal, conjugal partners would be unable to marry or live together).

In the case of a dependent child, a son or daughter is considered ‘dependant’ if they are under the age of 22 and do not have a spouse or common law partner. Children over the age of 22 may still qualify as dependants if they are financially dependent on a parent due to a physical or mental condition and they have depended on their parent for financial support since before the age of 22. The children must be related to the sponsor by blood or adopted.

All applicants and their dependants must go through medical, criminal screening, including the dependants who are not immigrating to Canada.

How to apply?

Two options exist for persons hoping to apply for permanent residence as a member of the family class. A sponsor can either submit an “In-Canada” spousal sponsorship or an “overseas” spousal sponsorship. Both applications have different requirements, processing times and associated rights and limitation. It is therefore recommended that you obtain some legal advice to determine which application is right for you.

The documentation requirements for sponsoring a spouse, common-law partner, conjugal partner or dependent child also all differ. It is therefore important to make sure that all documentation submitted meet the requirements of your specific case.

Looking to sponsor your spouse, common-law or conjugal partner to Canada? We can help!

It is recommended that individuals seek the help of a legal professional who knows how to send a package that will provide an applicant with the best chance to be sponsored, contact us to get started.

The 3 Most Common FAQs about Sponsorship

You can appeal the case to the Immigration Adjudication Division (IAD) within 30 days of the refusal. IAD appeals are costly, lengthy and never guaranteed. If your case was refused, you should contact a lawyer immediately in order to ensure your appeal is filed on time.
When agreeing to provide for a family member’s “essential needs”, the sponsor must take care of basic requirements of everyday living (eg. food, clothing, shelter), and health needs not covered by public health services (eg. dental and eye care).
This will depend on to which Canadian Immigration Visa Office the application was forwarded, and the type of family member sponsored. Spouses, common-law partners and dependent children are priorities, and can take about a month, whereas parents and grandparents can take more than three years.