Family Class Immigration to Canada
Sponsoring a Family Member
You can sponsor a spouse, common-law or conjugal partner, or dependent children if you are a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada. To be a sponsor, you must be 18 years of age or older.
You can apply as a sponsor if your spouse, common-law or conjugal partner, or accompanying dependent children live with you in Canada, even if they do not have legal status in Canada. However, all the other requirements must be met.
You can also apply as a sponsor if your spouse, common-law or conjugal partner, or dependent children live outside Canada, and if they meet all the requirements.
When you sponsor a spouse, common-law or conjugal partner, or dependent children to become permanent residents of Canada, you must promise to support them financially. Therefore, you have to meet certain income requirements. If you have previously sponsored relatives to come to Canada and they have later turned to the government for financial assistance, you may not be allowed to sponsor another person. Sponsorship is a big commitment, so you must take this obligation seriously.
To be a sponsor:
- 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.
- You must provide financial support for a spouse, common-law or conjugal partner for three years from the date they become a permanent resident.
- You must provide financial support for a dependent child for 10 years, or until the child turns 25, whichever comes first.
You may not be eligible to be a sponsor if you:
- failed to provide financial support you agreed to when you signed a sponsorship agreement to sponsor another relative in the past
- defaulted on a court-ordered support order, such as alimony or child support
- receive government financial assistance for reasons other than a disability
- were convicted of an offence of a sexual nature, a violent criminal offence, an offence against a relative that results in bodily harm or an attempt or threat to commit any such offences—depending on circumstances such as the nature of the offence, how long ago it occurred and whether a pardon was issued (See Sponsorship Bar for Violent Crime below)
- were previously sponsored as a spouse, common-law or conjugal partner and became a permanent resident of Canada less than 5 years ago (See Five-year Sponsorship Bar for persons who were sponsored to come to Canada as a spouse or partner below)
- defaulted on an immigration loan-late or missed payments
- are in prison or
- have declared bankruptcy and have not been released from it yet.
Other factors not included in this list might also make you ineligible to sponsor a relative.
If you live in Quebec, you must also meet Quebec's immigration sponsorship requirements, after Citizenship and Immigration Canada approves you as a sponsor.
You are a spouse if you are married to your sponsor and your marriage is legally valid.
If you were married in Canada:
- You must have a marriage certificate issued by the province or territory where the marriage took place.
If you were married outside Canada:
- The marriage must be valid under the law of the country where it took place and under Canadian law.
A marriage performed in an embassy or consulate must comply with the law of the country where it took place, not the country of nationality of the embassy or consulate.
Sponsoring your same-sex partner as a spouse
You can apply to sponsor your same-sex partner as a spouse if:
- you are a Canadian citizen and permanent resident and
- you were married in Canada and issued a marriage certificate by a Canadian province or territory on or after the following dates:
- British Columbia (on or after July 8, 2003)
- Manitoba (on or after September 16, 2004)
- New Brunswick (on or after July 4, 2005)
- Newfoundland and Labrador (on or after December 21, 2004)
- Nova Scotia (on or after September 24, 2004)
- Ontario (on or after June 10, 2003)
- Quebec (on or after March 19, 2004)
- Saskatchewan (on or after November 5, 2004)
- Yukon (on or after July 14, 2004)
- all other provinces or territories (on or after July 20, 2005).
If you were married outside Canada, you may apply to sponsor your same-sex partner as a spouse as long as the marriage is legally recognized according to both the law of the place where the marriage occurred and under Canadian law. This applies to same-sex marriages performed in the following jurisdictions:
- the Netherlands
- South Africa
- the State of California (June 16, 2008 – November 5, 2008)
- the State of Massachusetts
- the State of New Hampshire
- the State of Connecticut
- the State of Iowa
- the State of Vermont (effective September 1, 2009)
Please note that the above list of jurisdictions is offered as a guide only, and is subject to change. It is your responsibility to provide CIC information about whether or not your same-sex-marriage was legally recognized when and where it occurred.
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 are allowed short absences for business travel or family reasons, however.)
You will need proof that you and your common-law partner have combined your affairs and set up a household together. This can be in the form of:
- joint bank accounts or credit cards
- joint ownership of a home
- joint residential leases
- joint rental receipts
- joint utilities (electricity, gas, telephone)
- joint management of household expenses
- proof of joint purchases, especially for household items or
- mail addressed to either person or both people at the same address.
This category is for partners-either of the opposite sex or same sex-in exceptional circumstances beyond their control
that prevent them from qualifying as common-law partners or spouses by living together.
A conjugal relationship is more than a physical relationship. It means you depend on each other,
there is some permanence to the relationship and there is the same level of commitment as a marriage or a common-law relationship.
You may apply as a conjugal partner if:
- you have maintained a conjugal relationship with your sponsor for at least one year and you have
been prevented from living together or marrying because of:
- an immigration barrier
- your marital status (for example, you are married to someone else and living in a country where divorce is not possible) or
- your sexual orientation (for example, you are in a same-sex relationship and same-sex marriage is not permitted where you live)
- you can provide evidence there was a reason you could not live together (for example, you were refused long-term stays in each other's country).
You should not apply as a conjugal partner if:
- You could have lived together but chose not to. This shows that you did not have the level of commitment required for a conjugal relationship. (For example, one of you may not have wanted to give up a job or a course of study, or your relationship was not yet at the point where you were ready to live together.)
- You cannot provide evidence there was a reason that kept you from living together.
- You are engaged to be married. In this case, you should either apply as a spouse once the marriage has taken place or apply as a common-law partner if you have lived together continuously for at least 12 months.
A son or daughter is dependent when the child:
- is under the age of 22 and does not have a spouse or common-law partner;
- is over the age of 22 and has been continuously enrolled as a full-time student and depended substantially on the financial support of a parent since before the age of 22;
- became a spouse or a common-law partner before the age of 22 and has been continuously enrolled as a full-time student and depended substantially on the financial support of a parent since becoming a spouse or common-law partner, or
- is over the age of 22 and depended substantially on the financial support of a parent since before the age of 22 because of a physical or mental condition.
Relationships that are not eligible
You cannot be sponsored as a spouse, a common-law partner or a conjugal partner if:
- you are under 16 years of age
- you (or your sponsor) were married to someone else at the time of your marriage
- you have lived apart from your sponsor for at least one year and either you (or your sponsor) are the common-law or conjugal partner of another person
- your sponsor immigrated to Canada and, at the time they applied for permanent residence, you were a family member who should have been examined to see if you met immigration requirements, but you were not examined or
- your sponsor previously sponsored another spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner, and three years have not passed since that person became a permanent resident.