Canadians and permanent residents can help some of their family members immigrate to Canada. This process is referred to as Family sponsorship.
Each type of family member has its own program and conditions.
Which family members can be sponsored to Canada:
1. A spouse or common law partner
2. Parents and grandparents
3. Dependent children
4. The dependent children of a spouse or common law partner
5. Adopted dependent children
6. A family member who is not listed above, only on very specific circumstances, when the Canadian or permanent resident does not have any other family member abroad or in Canada.
Sponsoring a family member to immigrate to Canada always has a level of responsibility. The Canadian or permanent resident who is the sponsor will have to sign a document called an undertaking which is like a promise to take care of this family member for a certain amount of years after they receive permanent residency. If the sponsor has a co-signer, for example their spouse, who is also helping sponsor the family member, the responsibility is also shared by the co-signer, even if their relationship disintegrates.
It is important to understand all the implications of family sponsorship before submitting an application and we recommend you book an appointment to have all the right information about the process and what it will mean for yourself and your family.
Spouse sponsorship is probably the most common form of family sponsorship in Canada. This is a program that allows Canadians and permanent residents to sponsor their spouse or common law partner who is minimum 18 years old to receive Canadian permanent residency. The sponsor must meet a list of requirements but in general, the person must be 18 years old, be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, not be receiving governmental financial support other than for disability and able to support their spouse when they arrive to Canada and during the next three years. For a complete list of requirements, click here.
Here are some facts about this process:
Who can be sponsored:
1. A spouse defined by a marriage. (Marriages by proxy are no longer accepted.)
2. A common law partner defined by living together for minimum 12 months.
3. A conjugal partner defined by having a relationship for minimum 1 year, the foreign national lives outside Canada and cannot get married to or live with the sponsor for reasons beyond their control.
What income is required to sponsor a spouse or partner?
There is no official minimum income required to sponsor a spouse or partner and their dependent children (as long as these children do not have their own children). However, it is important to show that the sponsor, although they may be currently unemployed, do have the resources to take care of the people they will sponsor. For example, by showing savings or temporary employment opportunities.
Can the sponsor live outside Canada during the process?
The sponsor may live outside Canada during the process only if they are a Canadian citizen. If the sponsor is a permanent resident, they must live inside Canada. If a sponsor is living outside Canada during the process, they will have to eventually move back to Canada before the end of the process to show the intentions to establish permanently in Canada.
Where will the application be processed?
The application can be processed inside Canada if the applicant who will be sponsored is currently living in Canada with a legal immigration status. For example, if the person is in Canada as a tourist or a worker or student. When an application is processed inside Canada, the applicant is eligible to receive an open work permit while they wait for their permanent residency to be processed. However, the applicant should not leave Canada from the moment their application is received by IRCC and until they receive their PR status. An application made inside Canada cannot be appealed and should be prepared extremely carefully to ensure the highest chances of success.
The application can be processed outside Canada both if the applicant is in Canada or outside Canada. When an application is processed outside Canada and the applicant is in Canada, it is his responsibility to maintain a legal immigration status. For example, if a person is in Canada as a tourist and sends a spouse sponsorship application to be processed in their home country, they are responsible for extending their tourist status through a visitor record or another status like student or worker. When the application is processed outside Canada, the applicant can travel freely during the process and the application can be appealed if it is refused.
How long does it take?
Most applications inside Canada are processed within 12 months. The open work permit usually arrives after 4 months.
The processing times outside Canada will depend on the office taking care of the file. You can check processing times here.
There are several more important things to consider before submitting an application to sponsor a spouse or partner and their children. We highly recommend that you take an appointment with our Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant to discuss all the details of your case, because every family is unique.