Bringing Your Family to Canada
Moving to a new country by yourself is tough – it can get lonely and even depressing. That’s why many people prefer to move with their family. Fortunately, immigration services understand this need, especially in Canada. As such, the Canadian government allows you to sponsor your family members from back in your home country to become permanent residents via family immigration to Canada streams.
You are only eligible to be a sponsor if you:
- Are at least 18 years old
- Are Canadian citizen/permanent resident of Canada/someone registered as an Indian in Canada (under the Canadian Indian Act)
- Accept to sign a sponsorship agreement declaring you will financially support a sponsored relative if necessary (for example if they are unemployed) for a period of 3 to 10 years. The sponsored person will also have to sign the same agreement committing to making an effort to support themselves
- Can financially support a sponsored child dependent until they turn 25 or for a period of 10 years; whichever comes first
- Can financially support a spouse, conjugal partner, or common-law for 3 years. This time period is calculated from the time they become permanent residents of Canada
Who can you sponsor to Canada?
When it comes to family immigration to Canada, you can only sponsor:
- Your common-law partner/spouse/conjugal partner
Usually, you can include your spouse, common-law partner, or conjugal partner in your immigration application. For this application, a spouse is considered someone who you have legitimately married under Canadian law and in their country of origin. And for someone to qualify as a common-law partner, they have to have been living with you as your partner for at least one year.
On the other hand, a conjugal partner is someone you’ve had a conjugal relationship with for at least one year but have been prevented from living with due to religious reasons, immigration issues, or other injustices. It doesn’t matter which sex they are – Canadian family immigration recognizes same-sex partnerships.
Also, it doesn’t matter where they are currently located. They are still eligible whether they are outside Canada or have student, worker, or visitor status within the country. Interestingly, you can even include your spouse’s children in your immigration application.
- A dependent child
According to Canadian immigration laws, a dependent child is considered to be a child under the age of 19 who doesn’t have a sponsor or partner – they can even be a child you’re planning to adopt. Before August 2014, the age limit was higher – 22.
But as of 2021, a person over 18 can only be considered your dependent if they are financially dependent on you or your spouse due to a disability or health condition – there is no age limit for such dependents.
There’s one thing you should keep in mind when sponsoring dependent children – you can add their children to your visa application.
The relatives you can sponsor to move to Canada include parents, grandparents, and orphaned relatives under 19 years of age. These could be siblings, grandchildren, nieces, or nephews. Usually, you can’t add these people to your visa application and will have to wait until you are a permanent resident to sponsor them.
But in some rare cases, you can be allowed to do so. These are usually cases where the relatives in question are facing great hardships and need humanitarian and compassionate intervention.
Whatever the case though, you can’t sponsor children who:
- Have parents that are alive or missing or in jail
- Were abandoned by their parents
- Are being raised by someone else while their parents are still alive
Restrictions on Family Immigration to Canada
Some conditions that can prevent you from sponsoring family members to Canada include:
- Being bankrupt
- Being under a removal order (if you’re a permanent resident)
- Being incarcerated/have been charged with a serious offense
- Having ever defaulted on a court support order (like a child support order)
- A prior conviction for any offense against a relative, particularly a violent or sexual one
- Having failed to financially support a relative you had sponsored in the past as per your signed agreement
- Receiving any financial support or benefits from the Canadian government (unless it was related to a disability you have)
- Any prior late/missed payments or defaults on an immigration loan
Requirements for family members who are sponsored
Even if you sponsor for family immigration to Canada, there are some things required of them before they can be accepted into Canada. These include:
- Proficiency in English and/or French
- No criminal record
Documents required for family immigration to Canada
When you’re sponsoring a family member to move to Canada, the following documents will be required from you:
- Your background documentation
- Proof of your income
- Proof of your relationship with your spouse or partner (for example marriage certificate)
- Your passport and travel history
- Your completed application form
How to apply for family immigration to Canada
If you’ve finally decided to sponsor your family member, you need to understand that this is a two-step process. You’re going to have to apply for the sponsorship first then they will have to apply for permanent residence from their end.
Step-by-step guide on how to prepare and submit your sponsorship application form:
- Download the application package
The first thing you’ll have to do to prepare for a family sponsorship application is to download the application package from the IRCC website. This package usually has a document checklist, the forms you need to fill, and an instruction guide.
Ensure you read the guide and confirm that you and your relatives are eligible for sponsorship before you make the application. This will keep you from wasting the application fees – this won’t be refunded if you aren’t eligible.
- Submit your application for family immigration to Canada
At this point, you’ll have to fill all the forms you’ve downloaded. You can either fill them by hand or using your computer (using Adobe Reader 10 or higher) – the latter is faster, easier, and more convenient. Also, if you use your computer, you can validate the forms before you print them to ensure that you have answered all the questions – this will prevent delays in processing your application.
Validating the forms also automatically creates a page with a signature line and barcode. Once you print your forms, you can sign them and place the barcode page on top of your package. Remember to include all the documents mentioned in the document checklist in your package.
- Pay your application fees and ship off your package
Once your package is ready, pay your application fees and mail it. You will find the mailing address in the instruction guide. Once your sponsorship application reaches the IRCC, they will review it and return it to you if it’s incomplete or is missing sponsorship/processing fee.
But if everything is in order, they will send you an acknowledgment with your application number and start assessing the application.
While processing times vary, you can use the IRCC’s online tool to keep up with the status of your application. And if a time comes where you choose to withdraw the application or need to update it due to some life changes, you can contact the IRCC using their web form.