Family reunification remains one of the pillars of the Canadian immigration system. Achieving this goal is largely accomplished through the Family Class Sponsorship program.
In order to be eligible under Family Class Sponsorship, the individual being sponsored for a permanent resident visa must be a member of the family class as defined by the Canadian government.
An eligible sponsor can sponsor the following individuals:
- the sponsor's spouse, common-law partner, or conjugal partner
- a dependent child of the sponsor
- the sponsor's mother or father
- the sponsor’s grandmother or grandfather
- the sponsor’s brother, sister, nephew, niece, or grandchild whose parents are deceased, under 18 years of age, and not married or in a common-law relationship
In order to be eligible, a sponsor must be a Canadian Citizen or Canadian Permanent Resident and over the age of 18. In addition, a sponsor cannot be subject to a removal order, detained in prison, or in default of any previous sponsorship undertaking or payment obligation ordered by the court. Finally, a sponsor cannot have declared bankruptcy or be in receipt of social assistance, other than for reason of disability. In regards to criminal convictions, a sponsor will not be eligible if they have been convicted of any offence of a sexual nature or of an offence resulting in the bodily harm of a family member.
For the majority of cases the sponsor must reside in Canada to make a sponsorship application. However a Canadian citizen is able to sponsor their spouse, common-law partner, conjugal partner, or dependent child while living abroad if the sponsor will live in Canada when the sponsored individual becomes a Canadian Permanent Resident.
The Canadian government requires payment of Canadian immigration processing fees in the amount of $550 CAD for the sponsoring of a spouse, parent, or dependent over the age of 22. Processing fees in the amount of $150 CAD are required for dependents under the age of 22.
Under the Family Class Sponsorship stream, medicals are required for the sponsored individual at the time of application. When sponsoring a dependent, spouse, common-law partner, or conjugal partner the excessive demand restrictions do not apply.
Whether the applicant is sponsoring his/her spouse, common-law or conjugal partner, or dependent children for immigration to Canada, a commitment to undertake their financial support is required. This commitment ensures that a sponsor will make reasonable efforts to provide for the essential needs of the spouse or relative brought to Canada. The sponsor is responsible for making sure the spouse or relative does not seek out financial assistance from the government. The sponsorship agreement requires the sponsor to provide financial support, if necessary, and must be signed by both the sponsor and the sponsored individual. This requirement, to provide for the sponsored individual, only arises in situations where the sponsored individual is unable to provide for his/herself.
The length of the obligation to provide necessary financial support varies, depending on the individual being sponsored.
If a spouse, common-law, or conjugal partner is being sponsored, the obligation ends 3 years after they have obtained Canadian Permanent Residency. If it is a dependent child being sponsored, the obligation ends 10 years after the child becomes a Canadian Permanent Resident or when the child reaches the age of 25 (whichever comes first). If it is the parent or grandparent being sponsored, the obligation ends 10 years after that person obtains Canadian Permanent Residency.