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Family sponsorship

If you are a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada, age 18 or over, you can sponsor certain family members to become Canadian permanent residents. If you become a permanent resident, you can live, study and work in Canada. 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.

You can sponsor your:

  1. Spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner
  2. Dependent child (or child you plan to adopt): must be 21 and younger
  3. Parents and Grandparents: father, mother, grandfather or grandmother
  4. Orphaned  Relatives: brother, sister, nephew, niece, grandson or granddaughter, who are orphaned, under the age of 18, and not married or in a common-law relationship
  5. Other relative:  *only Lonely Canadians are eligible to sponsor (have no other family living in Canada)


Basic requirements for family sponsorship

To be a sponsor:

  1. You must be 18 years of age or older

  2. You and the sponsored relative must sign a sponsorship agreement that commits you to provide financial support for your relative, if necessary. This agreement also says the person becoming a permanent resident will make every effort to support her or himself

  3. You must provide financial support for a spouse, common-law or conjugal partner for three years from the date they become a permanent resident

  4. You must provide financial support for a dependent child for 10 years, or until the child turns 25, whichever comes first

Definitions of relationships

Spouse – You are a spouse if you are married to your sponsor and your marriage is legally valid

Common-law partner – You are a common-law partner, either of the opposite sex or same sex, if you have been living together in a conjugal relationship for at least one year in a continuous 12-month period that was not interrupted. You will need proof that you and your common-law partner have combined your affairs and set up a household

Conjugal partner – This category is for partners, either of the opposite sex or same sex, in exceptional circumstances beyond their control that prevent them from living together and therefore cannot qualify as common-law partners or spouses

Dependent children – A son or daughter is dependent when the child:

  1. is 21 and younger and does not have a spouse or common-law partner

  2. is older than 21 and depended substantially on the financial support of a parent since before the age of 22 because of a physical or mental condition

Please Note:  Dependent children who are 21 and younger became eligible to be sponsored on November 11, 2017, when changes to immigration legislation will come into force.

Sponsorship obligations

All sponsors are required to sign an undertaking to provide the sponsored person with the basic requirements from the day they enter Canada until the term of the undertaking terminates. The undertaking is a contract between the sponsor(s) and IRCCthat 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.

In the case of a spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner, a sponsor is required to sign an undertaking to reimburse the federal or provincial governments from the date in which they become a permanent resident for the period of three years.

In the case of a child under the age of 19 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 the period of 10 years or until the child reaches the age of 25 years, whichever is earlier.

In the case of a dependent child over the age of 19 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 years.

In the case of parents and grandparents, the sponsorship obligation extends for a period of 20 years from the date in which the member of the family class becomes a permanent resident. For all other family members, the obligation is of a duration of 10 years.

The Supreme Court of Canada, in its 2011 judgment of Attorney-General of Canada vs. Mavi, the court decided that while a sponsor’s obligation to reimburse the state for benefits collected by his or her relatives can be deferred in some circumstances, it cannot be wiped off the books entirely.

Sponsors living outside Canada

Canadian citizens living outside of Canada may sponsor their spouse, common-law partner, conjugal partner or dependent children without dependent children of their own, who have not been convicted of an offence 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 their 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 cohabiting in Canada; otherwise, the application must be filed through a visa office. These are areas which give rise to various complexities and challenges for sponsors.

Sponsors and sponsored persons in Quebec:

Sponsor (guarantor)

You can sponsor a close relative who has not been convicted of an offense causing bodily harm if you are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident living in Quebec, you are at least 18 years of age and you satisfy the prerequisites.

Contact us for more information about the Family Sponsorship application process or for assistance in preparing an application.