For Canadian citizens and permanent residents, submitting a family sponsorship application is a popular way to bring a relative over to Canada. Once the relative is here, he or she will be eligible for a wide range of Canadian social services and other benefits that come along with being a permanent resident of Canada. In order to sponsor a relative to come to Canada as a permanent resident, you must meet the criteria established by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
Are not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident
Are under the age of 18
Failed to meet the conditions of a sponsorship agreement for another relative in the past
Failed to pay alimony or child support payments
Have declared bankruptcy and have not yet been released from it
Failed to repay an immigration loan
Received financial help from the government (those receiving disability payments are exempt from this condition)
Have a conviction of a violent crime, sexual offence, or any offence against a relative (depending on the details of the case)
Are currently in prison
Due to Family Sponsorship being such a vast category, let’s examine each category according to Eligibility.
Before examining eligibility, it should be noted that a partner can be either “common-law” or “conjugal.” In general, common-law and conjugal partner applications will be required to show more documentation in order to prove that the relationship is genuine.
The age for a dependent child used to be 22 years old. This was changed on August 1, 2014 to 19 years old.
In addition to the criteria discussed above there are a couple of extra circumstances for spousal, common-law and conjugal partner sponsorships. If you were yourself sponsored as a spouse, common-law or conjugal partner in the past and it has been less than 5 years since you became a Canadian permanent resident, then you may not be eligible to sponsor a new spouse or partner. This condition even applies to those who obtained Canadian citizenship with the 5 year period of becoming a permanent resident.
Other restrictions on those being sponsored under the spouse, common-law or conjugal partner class are:
You or your sponsor must not have been married to someone else during your marriage.
You and your sponsor have lived apart for a minimum of 1 year and either one of you has a separate common-law or conjugal partner
Your sponsor sponsored another spouse, common-law or conjugal partner in the past and that person became a permanent resident less than 3 years ago.
You must be able to prove that your marriage is legal. In Canada, a marriage certificate can be obtained from the province or territory where the marriage took place. It’s important to get the proper type of marriage certificate to submit with an application. Some provinces issue multiple types of marriage documents. For example, in Ontario, you should submit the Short Form Marriage Certificate (not the Long Form).
It is commonplace for the marriage to be performed outside of Canada as well. The key thing to remember here is that the marriage must be valid according to the laws of the country where it took place. If this is the case then most likely it will be valid under Canadian law as well
Canada is very progressive when it comes to recognizing same-sex marriages. As of 2005, every province and territory of Canada will issue marriage certificates to same-sex couples.
For same-sex marriages outside of Canada, the marriage must be legally recognized according to the laws of the country where it took place.
To be recognized in Canada as being a legitimate common-law partner, you and your partner must have been living together for the majority of a continuous 12 month period. Common-law sponsorships are just as valid as spousal ones, but often require more documentation to prove that the relationship is genuine. The best way to prove an ongoing common-law relationship is to provide joint documentation (that is, documentation containing both the sponsor’s and the applicant’s names). These documents could be: joint bank accounts, joint residential leases, joint utility bills, joint ownership documents, joint insurance policies, etc.
Conjugal partners differ from common-law partners in that they were unable to live together. This type of application is more complex because you must show that even though you are unable to live together, you still depend on each other and are in a marriage-like relationship. The main condition for being eligible to sponsor under the conjugal partner designation is to show the immigration officer that you have a valid reason for not living together. Valid reasons might be, but are not limited to: sexual orientation, immigration restrictions, or being in a previous marriage in a country where divorce is illegal.
You will not be eligible to apply under the conjugal partner class if for example one of the partners did not want to give up a job in another country. The reason you are not living together must be difficult to overcome.
For a son or daughter to be eligible as an applicant under the Family Class, he or she must be under the age of 19 and not have a spouse or common-law partner. The main factor here is that the child is actually financially dependent on the parent. Exceptions will be made for children over 19 who suffer from a physical or mental condition that requires ongoing financial support from the parent(s).
As of October 25, 2012, all new Spousal or Partner Sponsorships are subject to the new conditions introduced under Conditional Permanent Residence. Basically, this applies to you if your relationship is less than 2 years and you don’t have children in common with your sponsor.
Permanent residency is granted to these applicants with the condition that they must live together for 2 years from the day he or she receives permanent residence. After the 2 year period, the relationship will be re-evaluated for its legitimacy. During the 2 year period, a sponsored person under conditional permanent residence has all the same benefits that a regular Canadian permanent resident has.
Conditional Permanent Residency was introduced in order to combat marriages of convenience and marriages entered into under bad faith.
Other relatives can be either:
Orphaned close relatives: Close relatives that are related to the sponsor by blood or adoption (brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, grandchildren) can be sponsored under the family class only if they are orphaned, under 18, and not married or in a common-law / conjugal relationship.
Other relatives: A relative by either blood or adoption of any age. The main restriction here is that you are not married or in a common-law / conjugal relationship and have none of the other living relatives you could sponsor instead. In this case, “other living relatives” includes: a parent, a grandparent, a son or daughter, a niece or nephew, an aunt or uncle, or a brother or sister. Also, if you have any of the previous relatives listed who are already Canadian citizens, permanent residents, or registered Indians; you are exempt from sponsoring in this class.
One of the most important conditions for eligibility when sponsoring other relatives is that you must pledge to support your relative financially upon his or her arrival for at least 3 years. You will need to prove that you can meet the basic needs of both yourself and your sponsored relative (food, clothing, shelter).
Parents and Grandparents can be sponsored under the family class and there are a separate set of conditions which apply. Because the backlog on this type of application is significant (5 years or more processing time), many people choose to apply instead for a Super Visa. The Super Visa has lighter criteria for eligibility and is processed much more quickly.
The sponsor must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident who is established in Canada at the time of the application. To be eligible to sponsor a parent or grandparent, the sponsor must agree to be financially responsible for the applicant for the 20 years following approval of permanent residency.
The financial ability to sponsor a parent or grandparent is determined by the Low Income Cut Off chart published yearly by Citizenship and Immigration Canada. If the sponsor (and co-sponsor) are unable to meet the minimum of the Low Income Cut Off for parents and grandparents for the 3 taxation years preceding the application, then the application will be rejected.
Family Sponsorship is a vast immigration category. Today we have only touched on eligibility, but there are many other factors to consider. A successful application requires special attention and all of the requisite forms and documentation. If you would like to sponsor a family member to come to Canada, be proactive! Contact our experienced team of Canadian immigration lawyers and consultants today at 416-477-2545.
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