Canadian citizens and permanent residents of Canada (residing in Canada) and Canadian citizens (residing outside Canada) who are 18 years of age or older are allowed to sponsor certain family members to come to Canada under the Family Class.
According to the definition provided by Immigration Regulations, a foreign national is a member of the Family Class, if, with respect to a Canadian Sponsor, the foreign national is a:
- Spouse (including same-sex spouses), common-law or conjugal partner who is 18 years of age or older;
- Dependent child (no matter which parent is supporting the child, and also including children adopted overseas);
- Father or mother;
- Grandfather or grandmother;
- Orphan under age 18, if sibling, niece or nephew, or grandchild of sponsor;
- Child under age 18 to be adopted in Canada;
If the sponsor does not have any members of Family Class that are already Canadian citizens or permanent residents, nor has any family members that could be sponsored as members of Family Class in the categories listed above, then the sponsor may sponsor another relative of any age with whom they have a familial relationship.
Spouse or Common-Law Partner Sponsorship
Canadian citizens living outside of Canada may sponsor their spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner who have not been convicted of an offense causing bodily harm, provided that they are able to demonstrate that they will reside in Canada after their sponsored landing(s).
Permanent residents residing abroad may not sponsor family from outside Canada. Furthermore, a spouse or common-law partner in Canada may only file an in-Canada application to sponsor their spouse or common-law partner if they are already cohabiting in Canada. Otherwise, the application must be filed through a visa office – these areas of the application process can give rise to confusion and challenges for sponsors. In order to receive the visa in question through this immigration program, the sponsor and sponsored person must prove that their relationship qualifies under one of three categories:
- Common-Law Partner; or
- Conjugal Partner.
Note: Canada recognizes same-sex marriage, and same-sex partners may be eligible to apply under any of the above three categories, provided they meet all eligibility requirements.
Individuals sponsored to come to Canada by their spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner are granted conditional permanent resident status with certain conditions and obligations attached depending on the status of their relationship at the time of sponsorship. These conditions are:
- The sponsor is financially responsible to support the sponsored partner for three years even if the marriage or relationship fails.
- Individuals who come to Canada as spouses are banned from sponsoring a new spouse in turn for 5 years after receiving Canadian Permanent Residency;
- On April 18, 2017, the Government of Canada has REMOVED the two years condition that applied to sponsored spouses or partners of Canadian citizens and permanent residents to live with their sponsor in order to keep their permanent resident status.
A dependent child, both natural and adopted, may be sponsored to live with the Canadian parent(s) as Permanent Residents in Canada if the child:
- Does not have dependent children of their own;
- Is under 19 years of age.
A child will still be considered as a dependent if they have depended substantially on their parents for financial support since before the age of 19 and cannot independently support themselves financially due to a mental or physical condition.
The new age limit of “under 22” came into effect this fall, on October 24, 2017, raising it from the past “under 19” requirement. The increased age applies to new applications for all immigration programs under Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, including for refugees. Children who are 22 years of age or older and who rely on their parents due to a physical or mental health condition will continue to be considered dependent children.
Parent and Grandparent Family Class Sponsorship
Under present criteria, a maximum of 10,000 applications under the Parent and Grandparent sub-category will be accepted for processing each calendar year. To be eligible for Family Class sponsorship, the sponsor in Canada must meet the following requirements:
- Be a Canadian citizen or Permanent Resident;
- Be 18 years of age or older;
- Demonstrate, for a period of 3 consecutive years prior to sponsorship, income greater than the annual Minimum Necessary Income for the program published by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. Only official documents issued by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will be accepted to demonstrate income for the three years prior to submission;
- Sign an undertaking to financially support the parent or grandparent, and reimburse the government for any social assistance paid out to the relative, for a period of 20 years from the date of permanent residence. If the sponsor resides in Quebec, an additional ‘undertaking’ must be signed.
For those who wish to bring their families to Canada, the Super Visa still remains a quick and easy way to reunite parents and grandparents with their loved ones.