Guide To Canadian Immigration For Family Members

Persons who are eligible to sponsor

Under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and associated Regulations, a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada who is aged at least 18 is allowed, subject to certain conditions, to sponsor their spouse or certain members of their immediate family for permanent residence in Canada.

Persons who may be sponsored

The list of persons who may be sponsored in the Family Class is limited and clearly defined. Only the following may be sponsored:

o Spouses, Common-Law Partners, and Conjugal Partners aged 16 and over

o Parents and Grandparents

Parents and grandparents may be sponsored, however the sponsor has to show more than a specified income, which is calculated based on the size of their family unit when the persons who are being sponsored are included.

o A dependent child of the sponsor, including an adopted child

A child is considered dependent if he or she is under age 22 at the time the sponsorship application is filed, provided the child is not married or living in a common-law relationship. Certain children over age 22 may also be considered dependent if they are full-time students, or are mentally or physically handicapped and financially dependent on their sponsor.

o A child aged under 18 years whom the sponsor intends to adopt

o Orphaned brothers, sisters, nieces, or grandchildren under the age of 18 and who are not married or living in a common-law relationship

o In cases where there are no persons in the above categories, the “last remaining family member” may be sponsored i.e. one relative of any age may be sponsored if the sponsor does not have an aunt, uncle or any family from the above list who could be sponsored or who is already a Canadian citizen, Indian or a Permanent Resident of Canada. In practice this situation rarely occurs.

Requirements to sponsor

The law generally requires that the sponsor resides in Canada, however a Canadian citizen may sponsor their spouse, common-law partner, or conjugal partner while residing outside Canada if they can show they will live together in Canada when the application is approved.

Usually the sponsor does not have to show a specific amount of income when sponsoring a Spouse, Common-Law Partner or Conjugal partner, but sponsors who are receiving social assistance (unless this is for reasons of disability) are ineligible to sponsor, and undischarged bankrupts may not meet the requirements to sponsor.

When filing a sponsorship application, the sponsor is obliged to agree to support the sponsored person’s basic needs, if they are unable to provide for themselves, for a period of 3 or 10 years. The application to sponsor is filed at a Case Processing Centre in Canada, and if the sponsor is found eligible, the permanent residence application will automatically be forwarded to the appropriate visa office for processing.

Accompanying family members

It is important that all dependent family members of the principal applicant for permanent residence are listed on the application. Even if family members are non-accompanying it is normally advisable for them to undergo medical examinations and, if over the age of 18, to provide police clearance certificates. If this procedure is not followed then the family members are precluded from ever being sponsored in the future.

Assessment of applications

The above criteria are assessed strictly in accordance with the Law. In some cases, even if the application would otherwise be approved, if the sponsored person or dependent family members have a prior criminal history or particular medical problems, the permanent residence application will be refused. In these instances, or when the application is refused because the sponsor does not have the necessary income, it may be possible to overcome the refusal on appeal based on Humanitarian and Compassionate grounds, provided that the original application was correctly completed to account for this eventuality.

Procedure when application is approved

If the sponsorship application is successful, the sponsored person is required to present a valid passport or equivalent travel document. The sponsored person and accompanying family members will be issued with permission to take up permanent residence in Canada, which they must normally do within one year of undergoing their medical examination.

Ron Liberman is a Full Member of the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants (CSIC). He is the owner of Best Place Immigration based in Vancouver, British Columbia. Ron Liberman is a graduate of the University of London, England and the Immigration Practitioner Certificate Program at the University of British Columbia. His contributions to the industry include serving on the National Board of the Canadian Association of Professional Immigration Consultants and on the CSIC Education Committee