Canada encourages family members to stay together in Canada.
In the 2023-2025 Immigration Levels Plan which Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) released on November 1, 2022, Canada plans to accept 80,000 immigrants through Spouses, Partners and Children per year.
If you are married to a Canadian citizen or Canadian permanent resident, your spouse can sponsor you to immigrate to Canada.
If you are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, you can sponsor your children to immigrate to Canada.
This article explains how Family Class Sponsorship works and how to apply it.
How Family Class Sponsorship Works
Family reunification and reconnecting with their Canadian families is a major focus for Canada.
This is why Canada offers a Family Class Sponsorship program for permanent residents or citizens of Canada.
If you or your spouse is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, you may be eligible to sponsor your spouse or children.
This is a sensitive immigration process. You need to prove that your relationship with the family is true and genuine.
Canadashaws Consulting will guide you step by step until your family reunites together as Canadian permanent residents.
Who can apply?
Both the applicants (who want to become permanent residents of Canada) and the sponsor need to meet the requirements.
The application is made in the applicant’s name, not the sponsor’s.
Requirements for the applicants
The requirements are different depending on the relationship with the sponsor.
The spouse can be either sex and must be:
- legally married to the sponsor
- Over 18 years old
Marriages that are legally performed in a foreign country are valid.
In some countries, you can get married younger than 18 but you have to wait until you become 18 to apply for Family Class Sponsorship.
The common-law partner:
- isn’t legally married to you
- is over 18 years old
- has been living with you for at least 12 consecutive months
Living together for 12 consecutive months doesn’t mean living together all 365 days. There can be short periods apart as long as they are temporary.
You need to prove your relationship is real and genuine by submitting documents.
I will explain the documents later.
Children qualify as dependants if they are:
- 21 years old or younger
- not married or in a common-law relationship
There are exceptions to being eligible as a dependent child over 22 years old. Please contact Canada Shaws Consulting for detail.
Requirements for the sponsor
To meet the requirements, the sponsor must be:
- at least 18 years old
- a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada
- not receiving social assistance for reasons other than a disability
- living in Canada (if the spouse is a Canadian permanent resident)
- able to provide for the basic needs of all the persons you are going to sponsor
If the sponsor is a Canadian citizen, the sponsor can live outside of Canada with a solid plan to live in Canada at the time that the person being sponsored will become a permanent resident of Canada.
If the sponsor is a Canadian permanent resident, the sponsor can’t submit the application from outside Canada.
The last item on the above list is to promise that you take financial responsibility for the persons you are sponsoring.
This promise is called an “undertaking“.
The period of the undertaking varies by the sponsored person’s age and relationship with you.
|Person you sponsor
|Length of undertaking
|Spouse or common-law partner
|Dependent child under 22 years old
|10 years, or until age 25, whichever comes first
|Dependent child over 22 years old
The sponsor is still financially responsible even if:
- the relationship with the person being sponsored changes (for example, divorce or separation)
- the person being sponsored becomes a Canadian citizen
- the sponsor’s financial situation gets worse (for example, job loss or debt)
During this undertaking period, the sponsor must:
- provide for the basic needs of the sponsored family members
- repay any social assistance the sponsored family members received
Also, the sponsor and the sponsored family members need to agree to certain responsibilities during the undertaking period.
This agreement is called a “sponsorship agreement“.
Under the sponsorship agreement:
- the sponsor has to provide for the basic needs of the sponsored family members
- the sponsored family members do their best to support themselves
When submitting the application, the sponsor and the sponsored family members need to sign the undertaking and sponsorship agreement.
Who can’t sponsor a spouse
You can’t sponsor your spouse or common-law partner if you:
- were sponsored by a spouse or common-law partner and became a permanent resident less than 5 years ago
- are still in the undertaking period of your previous spouse or common-law partner
How to apply
Family Class Sponsorship applications are submitted online.
There are two categories to apply for Family Class Sponsorship for a spouse.
- In Canada Spousal Sponsorship
- Outside Canada Spousal Sponsorship
The difference between these two categories is that you can apply for a work permit or not.
If the applicant (sponsored spouse) is living in Canada with a spouse who will sponsor you, you can apply for an open work permit.
In the past, the processing time for Outside Canada Spousal Sponsorship applications is faster than that of In Canada Spousal Sponsorship applications. However, as of February 2023, the processing time of both categories are almost the same.
I was asked this question sometimes.
“Do I have to keep on staying in Canada while I am waiting for the decision on my In Canada Spousal Sponsorship application?”
You don’t have to worry about that. As long as you keep your valid temporary resident status such as student, worker or visitor, you can go out and re-enter Canada with no problem.
Family Class Sponsorship applications are submitted in the applicant (the person who wants to become a permanent resident)’s name but both the sponsor and applicant are assessed.
The required documents are divided into 3 categories:
- for sponsor’s eligibility
- for applicant’s eligibility
- proof that the relationship is real and genuine
Documents for sponsor’s eligibility
- Canadian passport or PR card
- Proof of children together with the applicant (if applicable)
- Proof of previous relationship (if applicable)
- Proof of income
If the sponsor has a previous relationship, the sponsor must provide a divorce or death certificate to prove that the relationship is terminated.
Documents for applicant’s eligibility
- Proof of temporary resident status (if living in Canada)
- Birth certificate
- Proof of previous relationship (if applicable)
- Police certificates
- Country specific required documents
The applicant has to submit police certificates for all countries they lived for more than six consecutive months after they become 18 years old.
Documents to prove the relationship
- Proof of joint ownership or lease agreement of residence
- Proof of joint utility accounts or bank accounts
- Copies of government issued documents that show the sponsor and applicant live together
- Photos to prove the relationship (up to 20 photographs)
- Other proof of relationship
How the application processed
Below is a basic timeline. The process becomes longer depending on various factors.
|Time from submission
|In Canada Spousal Sponsorship
|Outside Canada Spousal Sponsorship
|Submit the application
|The open work permit is approved.
|Receive an acknowledgement of receipt and application number
|The eligibility of the sponsor is approved
|Request for a medical exam
|Landing Interview (the applicant and sponsor must attend the interview together)
|Receive COPR (Confirmation of Permanent Residence)
|Landing (presenting COPR at Port of Entry)
|Obtain a PR Card!!
Link the application to your online account
After the applicant receives the application number, they can link the application to their personal IRCC online account.
The applicant can track the application status online and receive notices from IRCC quickly and securely.
Family Class Sponsorship is a very solid category.
The application is approved if you can prove the relationship is true and genuine.
However, you need to be careful about what documents to submit to prove the relationship is genuine.
Canadashaws Consulting will help you.
We will help your family live together as Canadian permanent residents.