Canada Family Sponsorships - Spouses and Children

Canadian citizens or a permanent resident, who are at least 18 years of age, may be eligible to sponsor members of the “family class” to become permanent residents, including spouses, common-law partners, conjugal partners, and dependent children.

Sponsors are responsible for financially supporting sponsored relatives when they arrive in Canada and ensuring that the relative does not need government financial assistance. If the sponsor fails to support their relatives, the sponsor may be asked to repay the money the government provides them and may not be allowed to sponsor another relative.

Further, the sponsor may not be able to sponsor anyone if the sponsor has defaulted on a court support order (such as alimony or child support), received government financial assistance (for reasons other than a disability), were convicted of a violent criminal offence (or any offence against a relative or any sexual offence), defaulted on an immigration loan (late or missed payments), are in prison, or have an undischarged bankruptcy.

Spouses and partners sponsored before

If CIC got your sponsorship application before March 2, 2012, the five-year sponsorship bar doesn’t apply, no matter when you become a permanent resient

If on or after March 2, 2012, the five-year sponsorship bar applies. You can’t sponsor someone until you have been a permanent resident for five years.

Financial Commitment Periods:

  • Spouses: 3 years
  • Dependent children: 10 years, or until he/she turns 25 (whichever comes first).

In-Canada Applications

Dependent children and spouses, including common-law and conjugal partners, may be sponsored from within Canada. After the application is “Approved-in-Principle”, the sponsored relative may be eligible for a Work Permit or Student Visa while they wait for their Permanent Residence application to be completed. Applicants must undergo medical, criminal, and background screening.

Effective December 22, 2014, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) will commence issuing open work permits to certain spouse or common-law partner in Canada class (SCLPC) applicants before the approval in principle decision is made.

Definition of “Spouse”
If the sponsor were married in Canada, that sponsor must have a marriage certificate issued by the province or territory where the marriage took place. If the sponsor were married outside Canada, the marriage must be valid both under the law of the country where it took place and under Canadian law. The sponsor can sponsor their same-sex partner as a spouse if the sponsor is a Canadian citizen and permanent resident, and the marriage took place in Canada and the couple were issued a marriage certificate by a Canadian province or territory on or after the following dates: British Columbia (July 8, 2003), Manitoba (September 16, 2004), New Brunswick (July 4, 2005), Newfoundland and Labrador (December 21, 2004), Nova Scotia (September 24, 2004), Ontario (June 10, 2003), Quebec (March 19, 2004), Saskatchewan (November 5, 2004), Yukon (July 14, 2004), and all other provinces or territories (July 20, 2005). If the sponsor was married outside Canada, the sponsor may sponsor his/her same-sex partner as long as the marriage is legally recognized in the place where the sponsor married.

Common-law partner
Common-law means same-sex or opposite-sex partners who have been living together in a “conjugal” relationship for at least one year in a continuous 12-month period that was not interrupted. (Short absences for business travel or family reasons are allowed.) Common-law partners must prove that they have combined their affairs and set up a household together. Applicants can prove their relationship by providing joint ownership of bank accounts, credit cards, property, residential leases, and demonstrate joint payments for homes, utilities (electricity, gas, telephone), household expenses, and household purchases. Additional evidence, such as mail addressed to both parties at the same address, can help prove the existence of the common-law relationship.

Conjugal partner
This category is for partners (opposite-sex or same-sex) who are in committed relationships, of at least one year, with circumstances that prevent them from qualifying as common-law partners or spouses by living together (i.e. same-sex partners that cannot live to together because due to discrimination).

Dependent children
A dependent child is younger than 19 (and does not have a spouse or common-law partner), is a full-time student, and is substantially dependent on a parent for financial support since before the age of 19, or since becoming a spouse or common-law partner (if this happened before age 19), or is financially dependent on a parent since before the age of 19 because of a disability.