Immigration to Canada Through Family Sponsorship

Immigrant families tell their storyImage by United Way of the Lower Mainland via Flickr By Katherine at Legal Language
Posted 01/19/2011
In Immigration

Canadian citizens as well as permanent residents are eligible to sponsor most family members who wish to start the immigration process to Canada.
While the regulations governing family immigration to Canada are more lenient than the regulations surrounding family-based green cards in the United States, there are still plenty of rules to keep in mind before you start filling out legal forms.

Who Is Eligible for Family-Based Immigration to Canada?

Family members who are eligible to be sponsored include:
  • Spouses
  • Common-law or same-sex partners 16 years of age or older
  • Parents
  • Grandparents
  • Dependent children under the age of 22, including children to be adopted, if they are not married or in a common-law relationship
  • Children over the age of 22 if they are full-time students at accredited institutions of higher learning or if they are mentally or physically challenged
  • Orphaned relatives, including brothers, sisters, nephews and nieces

Who Is Eligible to Become a Sponsor?

Family members who wish to be immigration sponsors must reside in Canada and have valid legal status as a citizen or permanent resident. Canadian permanent residents who are eligible to become immigration sponsors typically include students and workers.
Sponsors typically reside in Canada, while the family member being sponsored for the immigration process lives in his or her home country.  Only spouses or common-law partners of Canadian citizens or permanent residents can apply from within Canada.
If you are living in Canada with your spouse or partner and wish to begin the family immigration process, your partner faces some stricter rules governing whether or not he or she can be a sponsor. He or she must:
  • Have valid legal status in Canada as a visitor, student or temporary worker
  • Have lived with you for at least one year
  • Be living with you in Canada
  • Have a valid passport or travel document
  • Be 16 years of age or older
  • Be your bona fide spouse or common law partner for genuine reasons (not just for the purpose of receiving permanent residence in Canada)

Additional Family Sponsorship Requirements

Sponsors must make a pledge to the Canadian government that they will support their family members for at least three years so that they can establish themselves in Canada. Dependent children must be supported for 10 years or until they turn 25. This is similar to the United States’ I-864 Affidavit of Support that is required for family green card cases.
To be a sponsor, you must meet an income requirement. Like the US, the Canadian government does not want to be responsible for public charges — people who require government assistance. Medical documents must be obtained and included in the application, especially where adopted children are concerned.
If in the past you have sponsored a family member, and that relative is currently receiving money or other assistance from the government of Canada, you may not be eligible to sponsor another person.

What Is the Family Immigration Process?

One of the first things to do is download and read a guide to assist you in applying. Legal Language has the following three guides available:
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