Canada has one of the most welcoming family reunification programs in the developed world. The government is making improvements to the immigration system so that families can be reunited more quickly.
If you are a citizen or permanent resident of Canada and you are 18 years of age or older, you may be able to sponsor certain relatives to become a permanent resident under the Family Class. Other factors are also taken in consideration when your eligibility to sponsor is assessed. A sponsor cannot be detained in prison, or in default of any previous sponsorship undertaking or payment obligation ordered by the court, be in receipt of social assistance, other than for reason of disability. A sponsor will not be eligible if they have been convicted of any offence of a sexual nature or of an offence resulting in the bodily harm of a family member.
An individual who has been sponsored as a spouse is banned from sponsoring another spouse in turn for 5 years after receiving Canadian Permanent Residency.
An eligible sponsor can sponsor the following individuals:
- the sponsor’s spouse, common-law partner, or conjugal partner
- a dependent child of the sponsor (including adopted children)
- the sponsor’s mother or father
- the sponsor’s grandmother or grandfather
- the sponsor’s brother, sister, nephew, niece, or grandchild whose parents are deceased, under 18 years of age, and not married or in a common-law relationship
Note: You can sponsor any other relative regardless of age or relationship only if you do not have a living spouse or common-law partner, conjugal partner, a son or daughter, parent, grandparent, sibling, uncle, aunt, nephew or niece who could be sponsored as a member of the family class, and you do not have any relative who is a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident or registered as an Indian under the Indian Act.
For the majority of cases the sponsor must reside in Canada to make a sponsorship application. However a Canadian citizen is able to sponsor their spouse, common-law partner, conjugal partner, or dependent child while living abroad if the sponsor will live in Canada when the sponsored individual becomes a Canadian Permanent Resident.
If you sponsor a family member to come to Canada as a permanent resident, you must make every reasonable effort to provide for your own essential needs and those of your family. You are responsible for supporting your relative financially for a period from three to ten years depending on their age and relationship to you. This time period begins on the date they become a permanent resident. As a sponsor, you must make sure your spouse or relative does not need to seek social assistance from the government.
Individuals applying for permanent residence under the Family Class category must go through mandatory medical, criminal and background checks. There are provisions in the IRPA that may, in certain circumstances, help inadmissible persons resolve these issues.