The beginning of your journey
If you are a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada, age 18 or over, you can sponsor various family members to become Canadian permanent residents. If you sponsor a relative to come to Canada as a permanent resident, you are responsible for supporting your relative financially when he or she arrives. Canada has specific rules as to who can be sponsored to come to Canada, and obligations that are associated with family sponsorship. It is incumbent on the both the sponsor and applicant to establish a “genuine” relationship.
Who can be sponsored
How Canada defines a “relationship”:
There are three (3) basic relationship types that are recognized by the government:
Spouse - is defined by a legal marriage between the sponsor and the applicant, and the marriage is legally valid in the home country and or Canada. Both heterosexual or homosexual unions are recognized.
Common-law partnership - requires both parties - heterosexual or homosexual - to have been living together for at least one continuous year. You will need proof that you and your common-law partner have combined your affairs and set up a household.
Conjugal partnership - This category is for partners - heterosexual or homosexual - who find themselves in exceptional circumstances beyond their control that prevent them from living together, and therefore cannot qualify as common-law partners or spouses.
Inland vs outland applications
All applications, for both inland and outland sponsorship, are submitted to the Case Processing Centre (CPC) in Mississauga, ON. Once an application is deemed complete - with all required forms and documents and the sponsor is eligible - the application is forwarded for further processing. Incomplete applications are returned three (3) months later.
There are two (2) types of applications for spouse and common-law Sponsorship: inland and outland.
Outland - the application will be processed through the visa office in the sponsored spouse's country of citizenship, or where they legally reside. If the spouse/common-law partner live together in Canada, they can still apply under this category. Applying under this category will make you eligible to appeal a refusal. You will not have rights to appeal for an inland spousal application. This is an important distinction.
Inland - the sponsorship application will be processed in Canada and the applicants must live together. The person being sponsored is required to have temporary status in Canada as a worker, student, or visitor. The person being sponsored may be eligible for an open work permit.
Dependent child (must be under 22 years old)
An applicant can sponsor a dependent child, or a child you plan to adopt, for permanent residency in Canada. The eligible age for a dependent is less than 22, and the individual cannot be married or in a common-law relationship.
If the dependent child is 22 or older, they must satisfy one of the following in order to be considered as a dependent:
They have been an on-going, full-time student since before the age of 22, and are financially dependent on the support of the parents;
They were married or in a common-law relationship before the age of 22, they suffer from a physical or mental disability, and they have been financially dependent on the support of their parents since before the age of 22;
Parents and grandparents
In Canada, a father, mother, grandfather or grandmother can be sponsored with relatively no restrictions.
Other family members
Other family members can sponsored from the immediate family under certain circumstances. A brother, sister, nephew, niece, grandson or granddaughter, can be sponsored if they are orphaned and under the age of 22, and not married or in a common-law relationship.
"Lonely Canadian" rule
Known as the “Lonely Canadian” rule, the government has made a provision to allow for the sponsorship of a sole surviving relative to an individual sponsor, if she or he has no other family living in Canada and does not currently have a spouse, common-law partner, or is not in a conjugal relationship. One of the following living relatives can be sponsored:
a mother or father
brother or sister
uncle or aunt
nephew or niece
Key requirements to be a sponsor
To be approved as a sponsor to welcome a foreign national into Canada, a person must:
Be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident who is 18 years old or older;
Sign a sponsorship agreement that commits to providing financial support for the relative (in certain circumstance). This agreement also says the person becoming a permanent resident will make every effort to support her or himself;
Provide financial support for a spouse, common-law or conjugal partner for three (3) years from the date they become a permanent resident;
Provide financial support for a dependent child for 10 years, or until the child turns 25 year old - whichever comes first.
Obligations of the sponsor
All sponsors are required to sign an undertaking, to provide the PR applicant with the basic requirements from the day they enter Canada until the term of the undertaking ends. The undertaking is a contract between the sponsor(s) and the Government of Canada, agreeing that the sponsor will repay the government for any social assistance payments made to the sponsored person. Sponsors remain obligated to the undertaking agreement for the entire period of the contract, even in a change of circumstances, such as marital breakdown, separation, divorce, or a financial change in circumstances.
For a spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner, a sponsor is required to sign an undertaking to reimburse the federal or provincial government from the date on which they become a permanent resident for a period of three (3) years.
For a child, under the age of 22 years, of the sponsor or the spouse, common-law partner, or conjugal partner, the obligation commences on the day that the child becomes a permanent resident of Canada for a period of ten (10) years, or until the child reaches the age of 25 years, whichever comes first.
For a dependent child, over the age of 22 years, of the sponsor or the spouse, common-law partner, or conjugal partner, the obligation commences on the day that the dependent child becomes a permanent resident, for a period of three (3) years.
For parents and grandparents, the sponsorship obligation extends for a period of twenty (20) years, from the date on which the member of the family becomes a permanent resident. For all other family members, the obligation is of a duration of ten (10) years.