Under the ‘Family Class’, citizens and permanent residents of Canada may sponsor their spouse, common-law partner, conjugal partner, dependent child, or another approved relative, to enable that person to become a Canadian permanent resident. Application must be made to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, and different processes apply depending on whether the sponsored person is in the first group of relatives (spouse, common-law partner, conjugal partner, or dependent child), or is another type of eligible relative such as a parent or grandparent.
A person is a common-law partner if he or she has been living with the sponsor in a conjugal relationship for a year without interruption (other than short trips away for business or family reasons). However, sometimes a sponsor and his or her partner may have lived apart, and will not qualify as ‘common-law’ partners, in which case Citizenship and Immigration Canada will consider whether there were exceptional reasons, beyond the couple’s control, which prevented them from living together, so they may qualify under the ‘conjugal’ partners category.
However, a sponsored spouse, common-law partner, or conjugal partner must be aged 16 or over, and the sponsor must not have sponsored another spouse, common-law partner, or conjugal partner within the previous 3 years.
A dependent child must be under 22 years old (or in full-time study, or disabled) to qualify, and will not usually be approved if they have a spouse or common-law partner themselves. Each case will be carefully considered against the rules for the relevant category.
The process starts with an application to Citizenship and Immigration Canada by the sponsor, and the sponsored person must also file his or her own application to become a permanent resident. The two applications are usually filed at the same time. Applicants for permanent residence are required have medical clearance, and any applicant with a criminal conviction (depending on how serious the offending was) may be declined, and denied entry to Canada.
If the application for residency is approved, a permanent resident visa will be issued, along with a Confirmation of Permanent Residence document. The permanent residence visa must be current at the time when the applicant arrives in Canada. The applicant’s sponsor will then be responsible for supporting the relative financially upon arrival in Canada, at least until the new resident is able to support him or her self.
Stephen G Bourne is a lawyer and attorney, and has written and edited books about various legal matters, including the Law of Canada.
This article was written in August 2009.
THIS ARTICLE IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE, DOES NOT COVER ALL CIRCUMSTANCES, AND MAY CONTAIN ERRORS OR OMISSIONS. YOU SHOULD OBTAIN PROFESSIONAL LEGAL ADVICE REGARDING THE LAW RELEVANT TO YOUR OWN SITUATION. NO LIABILITY IS ACCEPTED BY THE AUTHOR OR ANY PUBLISHER OF THIS ARTICLE (TO THE EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW).