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Immigration in to Canada

Family Sponsorship

If you are a citizen or a permanent resident of Canada, you can apply to sponsor your spouse, common-law partner, conjugal partner, dependent child (including adopted child) or other eligible relative (such as a parent or grandparent) to become a permanent resident.

If you do so you are responsible for supporting your relative financially when he or she arrives and as a sponsor, you must make sure your spouse or relative does not need to seek financial assistance from the government.

There are 2 different processes for sponsoring your family. 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.

Family Class: Spouses, partners and dependent children (includes same sex, common-law and conjugal partners)

To sponsor a spouse, common-law or conjugal partner, or dependent children if you are a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada, you must be 18 years of age or older. You can apply as a sponsor if your spouse, common-law or conjugal partner, or accompanying dependent children live with you in Canada, even if they do not have legal status in Canada. However, all other requirements must be met. We can advise you upon the requirements you must meet.

You can also apply as a sponsor if your spouse, common-law or conjugal partner, or dependent children live outside Canada.

Financial support

When you sponsor a spouse, common-law or conjugal partner, or dependent children to become permanent residents of Canada, you must promise to support them financially so you have to meet certain income requirements. If you have previously sponsored relatives to come to Canada and they have later turned to the government for financial assistance, you may not be allowed to sponsor another person. Sponsorship is a serious commitment.

To be a sponsor:

  • You and the sponsored relative must sign a sponsorship agreement that commits you to provide financial support for your relative.
  • You must provide financial support for a spouse, common-law or conjugal partner for three years from the date they become a permanent resident.
  • You must provide financial support for a dependent child for 10 years, or until the child turns 22, whichever comes first.

You may not be eligible to be a sponsor if you:

  • failed to provide financial support you agreed to when you signed a sponsorship agreement to sponsor another relative in the past
  • defaulted on a court-ordered support order, such as alimony or child support
  • receive government financial assistance for reasons other than a disability
  • were convicted of a violent criminal offence, any offence against a relative or any sexual offence—depending on circumstances such as the nature of the offence, how long ago it occurred and whether a record suspension (pardon) was issued
  • defaulted on an immigration loan—late or missed payments
  • are in prison or
  • have declared bankruptcy and have not been released from it yet.

Other factors not included in this list might also make you ineligible to sponsor a relative. We can advise you upon the factors which may make you ineligible.

Sponsoring your same-sex partner as a spouse

You can apply to sponsor your same-sex partner as a spouse if:

you are a Canadian citizen and permanent resident and

you were married in Canada and issued a marriage certificate by a Canadian province or territory on or after the following dates:

  • British Columbia (on or after July 8, 2003)
  • Manitoba (on or after September 16, 2004)
  • New Brunswick (on or after July 4, 2005)
  • Newfoundland and Labrador (on or after December 21, 2004)
  • Nova Scotia (on or after September 24, 2004)
  • Ontario (on or after June 10, 2003)
  • Quebec (on or after March 19, 2004)
  • Saskatchewan (on or after November 5, 2004)
  • Yukon (on or after July 14, 2004)
  • all other provinces or territories (on or after July 20, 2005).

If you were married outside Canada, you may apply to sponsor your same-sex partner as a spouse as long as the marriage is legally recognized according to both the law of the place where the marriage occurred and under Canadian law. This applies to same-sex marriages performed in the following jurisdictions:

  • Belgium
  • the Netherlands
  • Denmark
  • Norway
  • South Africa
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • the State of California (June 16, 2008 – November 5, 2008)
  • the State of Massachusetts
  • the State of New Hampshire
  • the State of Connecticut
  • the State of Iowa
  • the State of Vermont (effective September 1, 2009)

(PLEASE NOTE THAT THE ABOVE LIST OF JURISDICTIONS IS OFFERED AS A GUIDE ONLY, AND IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE)

Common-law partner

You are a common-law partner—either of the opposite sex or same sex—if you have been living together in a conjugal relationship for at least one year in a continuous 12-month period that was not interrupted.

You will need proof that you and your common-law partner have combined your affairs and set up a household together. This can be in the form of:

  • joint bank accounts or credit cards
  • joint ownership of a home
  • joint residential leases
  • joint rental receipts
  • joint utilities (electricity, gas, telephone)
  • joint management of household expenses
  • proof of joint purchases, especially for household items or
  • email or mail addressed to either person or both people at the same address.

Conjugal partner

Partners—either of the opposite sex or same sex—in exceptional circumstances beyond their control may be prevented from qualifying as common-law partners or spouses by living together.

A conjugal relationship is more than a physical relationship. It means you depend on each other that, there is some permanence to the relationship and there is the same level of commitment as a marriage or a common-law relationship.

You may apply as a conjugal partner if:

  • you have maintained a conjugal relationship with your sponsor for at least 1 year and you have been prevented from living together or marrying because of:

    – an immigration barrier
    – your marital status (for example, you are married to someone else and living in a country where divorce is not possible) or
    – your sexual orientation (for example, you are in a same-sex relationship and same-sex marriage is not permitted where you live)

  • You must provide evidence there was a reason you could not live together (for example, you were refused long-term stays in each other’s country).

You should not apply as a conjugal partner if:

  • You could have lived together but chose not to. This shows that you did not have the level of commitment required for a conjugal relationship. For example, one of you may not have wanted to give up a job or a course of study, or your relationship was not yet at the point where you were ready to live together.
  • You cannot provide evidence there was a reason that kept you from living together.
  • You are engaged to be married. In this case, you should either apply as a spouse once the marriage has taken place or apply as a common-law partner if you have lived together continuously for at least 12 months.

Family Class: Other eligible relatives

Who can be sponsored


You can apply to sponsor:

  • parents
  • grandparents
  • brothers or sisters, nephews or nieces, granddaughters or grandsons who are orphaned, under 22 years of age and not married or in a common-law relationship
  • accompanying relatives of the above (for example, spouse, partner and dependent children).

Parental Sponsorship

News Release : Citizenship and Immigration Canada

Update on 2020 Parents and Grandparents Program

Ottawa, December 30, 2019 —To ensure that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has sufficient time to complete the development of a new intake process for the 2020 Parents and Grandparents Program, the reopening of the program will be postponed until Ministerial Instructions are issued.

This means that the opportunity to express interest in sponsoring a parent or grandparent will not take place on January 1, 2020. Further information about the expected launch date and 2020 intake process will be available in the new year.

This will give all interested sponsors the same opportunity to submit an interest to sponsor form and a fair chance to be invited to apply.

We encourage all interested potential sponsors and stakeholders to stay up to date on the next Parents and Grandparents Program intake process by visiting IRCC’s website and social media channels:

Who cannot be sponsored

Other relatives, such as brothers and sisters over 21 and independent children over 21 cannot be sponsored except in exceptional circumstances. However, if they apply to immigrate under Express Entry they may get extra points for adaptability for having a relative in Canada.