Family Class

One of the most popular immigration programs to Canada is as a member of the Family Class, under the Family Sponsorship program.

You can sponsor a spouse, common-law or conjugal partner (partner), or dependent children if you are a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada. To be a sponsor, you must be 18 or older.

When you sponsor relatives to become permanent residents of Canada, you must support them financially. This means you have to meet certain income guidelines.

If you have sponsored relatives to come to Canada in the past, and they have later asked the government for financial help, you may not be allowed to sponsor another person. Sponsorship is a big commitment, so you must take it seriously.

To be a sponsor you must:

  • agree in writing to give financial support to your relative, if they need it
    • for a spouse or partner, this lasts for three years from the date they become a permanent resident, and
    • for a dependent child, this lasts for 10 years, or until the child turns 25, whichever comes first.

Your relatives must also agree to try to support themselves.

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

  • did not meet the terms of a sponsorship agreement in the past,
  • did not pay alimony or child support even though a court ordered it,
  • get government financial help for reasons other than being disabled,
  • were convicted of
    • an offence of a sexual nature,
    • a violent crime,
    • an offence against a relative that resulted in bodily harm or
    • an attempt or threat to commit any such offences, depending on the details of the case, such as
      • the type of offence,
      • how long ago it occurred and
      • whether a record suspension was issued (see Sponsorship bar for violent crime below),
  • were sponsored as a spouse, common-law or conjugal partner in the past and became a permanent resident of Canada less than five years ago (see Five-year sponsorship bar below)
  • did not pay back an immigration loan, made late payments or missed payments,
  • are in prison or
  • have declared bankruptcy and have not been released from it yet.

Other things not on this list may stop you from being able to sponsor a relative.

If you live in Quebec, Citizenship and Immigration Canada must approve you as a sponsor first. Then you must also meet Quebec’s conditions to be a sponsor.

Due to changes in Canada’s immigration law, if a spouse or partner sponsored you, you now cannot sponsor a new spouse or partner within five years of becoming a permanent resident.

This rule applies even if you got your Canadian citizenship within those five years. Other members of the Family Class will not be affected by the rule change.

The sponsorship bar stops people who have been convicted of certain crimes from sponsoring a family member.  If you have been convicted of a crime that caused bodily harm to any relatives of the Family Class, you cannot sponsor anyone under the Family Class.

  • Note: Effective August 1, 2014, Citizenship and Immigration Canada has changed its definition of a dependent child for its immigration programs.  A dependent child must be under 19 years of age, and new forms must now be used for applications to sponsor under the Family Class.

A son or daughter is dependent when the child:

  • is under age 19 and does not have a spouse or common-law partner, or
  • is 19 years of age or older and has depended largely on the financial support of a parent since before age 19 because of a physical or mental condition.

You cannot be sponsored as a spouse, a common-law partner or a conjugal partner if:

  • you are under age 18,
  • you (or your sponsor) were married to someone else at the time of your marriage
  • you have lived apart from your sponsor for at least one year, and either you or your sponsor are the common-law or conjugal partner of another person,
  • your sponsor applied for permanent residence but did not include you on their application as someone who should be examined or
  • your sponsor has sponsored another spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner in the past, and three years have not passed since that person became a permanent resident (or five years if your application was received on or after March 2, 2012).

Please contact Mamann, Sandaluk & Kingwell and speak directly to one of our immigration lawyers for further information about your specific circumstances and whether you qualify as a sponsor or if your relatives qualify as a member of the Family Class for Family Sponsorship.

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