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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 two 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 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 the 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, if necessary.
  • 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 25, 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 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
  • 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
  • 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, 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 one 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 can 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 18 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

New Parent and Grandparent program re-opens January 2, 2014

Mississauga, May 10, 2013 — Citizenship and Immigration Canada will re-open the Parent and Grandparent (PGP) program for new applications on January 2, 2014, by which time the backlog and wait times in the program are expected to have been cut in half.

“The Action Plan for Faster Family Reunification is on track to meet the goals of cutting in half the backlog and wait times in the Parent and Grandparent program,” said Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney. “It is very important that we continue to make progress and not return to the old broken system with wait times as long as a decade—that would be unfair to families.”

Phase II of the Action Plan for Faster Family Reunification will provide even faster processing times, reduce the backlog further, prevent future backlogs, ensure that families have the financial means to support those they sponsor, and protect the interests of taxpayers.

First – In 2012 and 2013, Canada will admit 50,000 parents and grandparents as permanent residents. This represents the highest level of parents and grandparents admitted in 20 years. In 2014, Canada will maintain high levels of admissions for parents and grandparents.

Second – The Super Visa will become permanent and will continue to provide flexibility for families who access the 10-year multiple-entry visa, allowing visa holders to remain in Canada up to two years at a time. Over 15,000 Super Visas have been issued since the program’s launch in December 2011 with approval rates averaging 86 percent.

Third – New qualifying criteria for permanent residency sponsorship of parents and grandparents will increase the financial responsibility of sponsors to ensure they have the means to support those they sponsor, while limiting the program’s cost to taxpayers and Canada’s strained health and social programs.

Fourth – 5,000 new sponsorship applications will be accepted in the program in 2014. By accepting 5,000 applications in 2014 while maintaining high levels, the government will be able to further reduce the remaining backlog so that families can be reunited more quickly.

“These new criteria ensure sponsored family members are well supported by their sponsors throughout their time in Canada,” said Minister Kenney. “The redesigned Parent and Grandparent program reunites families faster while respecting Canadian taxpayers and the limited resources for health and social programs.”

Canada has one of the most generous family reunification programs in the world. The United States, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand do not allow grandparents to be sponsored at all or only in very limited circumstances, and they have very restrictive criteria for the sponsorship of parents.

The amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations that are being proposed will be pre-published in the Canada Gazette (Part I) and the public will be able to comment for a 30-day period.

Who cannot be sponsored

Other relatives, such as brothers and sisters over 18, or adult independent children cannot be sponsored. However, if they apply to immigrate under the Skilled Worker Class, they may get extra points for adaptability for having a relative in Canada.