As with most legal questions, the answer is “it depends”. Canada’s Family Class sponsorship programs are some of the most generous family reunification programs in the developed world because the Canadian government is committed to keeping families together whenever possible. There are a number of relationships that qualify for Family Class sponsorship, including spouses and common-law partners, dependent children, as well as, parents and grandparents. Both the sponsor (Canadian citizen or permanent resident) and the sponsored person (family member) must meet certain requirements to qualify.
Requirements to be a sponsor
Sponsors must be 18 years of age or older and not be in prison. Sponsors must also have no outstanding sponsorship undertakings, immigration or court ordered debts or an undeclared bankruptcy. Sponsoring a member of the family class requires sponsors to promise to support their family member(s) financially for a specific period of time.
Sponsoring your spouse, common law or conjugal partner
You can sponsor a person as your spouse if your marriage is a legally valid civil marriage. Opposite and same-sex marriages will be recognized for Canadian immigration purposes, where the marriage: (1) was legally performed in Canada, or (2) if performed outside of Canada, the marriage is legally recognized in the country where it took place, as well as, in Canada. Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) no longer recognizes marriages performed outside of Canada by proxy, telephone, fax, Internet and other forms of marriage where one or both persons were not physically present at the ceremony. Where the sponsorship application is filed from within Canada, the foreign national spouse can apply for a work permit at the same time the spousal application is filed.
You can sponsor a person as your common-law partner (same or opposite sex) as long as you have been living or have lived with your partner for at least 12 consecutive months in a marriage-like relationship.
You can sponsor a person as your conjugal partner if you and your partner have been in a relationship for at least one year; your partner is living outside of Canada and could not live with you as a couple because of reasons beyond their control (e.g. immigration barrier, religious reasons or sexual orientation). You must also be able to show there is a significant degree of attachment between the two of you, implying not just a physical relationship but a mutually interdependent relationship.
Sponsoring your dependent child
You can sponsor a child who depends on their parent (i.e. the principal applicant and/or the sponsor) for financial or other support. A son or daughter is a dependent of their parent when the child is:
- under 22 years old and does not have a spouse or partner; or
- 22 years old and over and has depended substantially on the parent’s financial support since before the age of 19 because of a physical or mental condition
The documentation requirements for sponsoring a spouse, same-sex spouse, common-law partner, conjugal partner or dependent child all differ. It is therefore important to make sure that all documentation submitted is per the requirements of your specific case.
We can help you navigate the maze of forms and requirements. For a detailed assessment of your immigration options, contact our Canadian Immigration Lawyers for a consultation by emailing us or by calling 416-847-3347.