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Family Sponsorship in Canada

Ask anyone who has emigrated to Canada, what they miss the most about back home, chances are high they’ll answer: Family. 

If you’re like most of immigrants, you’re probably missing your parents, grandparents, cousins, nieces and nephews. And even as you build your life here, you can’t help but yearn for the people you’ve left behind. 

Thankfully, Canada has one of the best immigration policies around the world. Canada’s Family Class category of immigration allows you to sponsor family and relatives and there is even a program dedicated to sponsoring just parents and grandparents (PGP)! For any type of family class sponsorship, a few basic qualifications listed below have to be met: 

  • Are over eighteen years of age;
  • Meet certain financial expectations, i.e. cannot be bankrupt; 
  • Are either a: 
    • Permanent resident who is not under any removal orders; 
    • A Canadian Citizen; 
    • Or registered as an Indian under the Indian Act; 
  • Be physically residing in Canada; 
  • Have a clean criminal record free of any serious offenses; 

Please note, other factors can play a role in the decision making process and result in your sponsorship application getting rejected. These factors can include: 

  • If you have outstanding debts with the Canadian government; 
  • Are in receipt of welfare or social assistance (not related to a disability); 
  • Sponsored someone previously and failed to provide for them; 
  • Are in jail.

Can You Sponsor Anyone? 

Almost. 

You can sponsor almost anyone who is a relative (related by blood or adoption) as long as they meet certain criteria. Aside from your spouse, your common law partner and / or your children, Canada has two other sponsorship options when it comes to bringing your relatives into Canada. 

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau poses for a selfie with workers before he greets new immigrants at Pearson International airport. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau poses for a selfie with workers before he greets new immigrants at Pearson International airport. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)

Option 1: Siblings Sponsorship

  • A sibling;  
  • Nephew or niece; 
  • Grandchildren. 

Can all be sponsored as long as they are under eighteen years of age, have no living parents, have no dependent children or spouses and are related to you by blood or through adoption. 

For example, let’s say you moved to Canada from South Africa, and you left your nineteen-year old brother and elderly mother behind. You may wish to sponsor your brother because he is young and can have a more promising future in Canada, but he would not be eligible because not only is he over eighteen but he also has your mother who is still alive. 

Family sponsorship: Spouse, partner or children fees
Family sponsorship: Spouse, partner or children fees for Canadian Government

Option 2: Relatives

Any one living relative (by blood or via adoption). There are no age or gender restrictions for the relative, however, certain conditions have to be met such as:

  • You have no other living relative like a parent, spouse or sibling that you can sponsor. 
  • The person you want to sponsor has no relatives in Canada who is a permanent resident, a citizen or registered Indian. 

If you do sponsor a relative under this option, you also have to sponsor the spouse or children of your relative (if there are any). 

For example, lets say you are an unmarried woman with no children. Your parents passed away years ago and you don’t have any grandparents either. Because you are all alone in Canada, you wish to sponsor your widowed forty-year old uncle. Based on the criteria above, you and your uncle would meet the initial eligibility requirements. If your uncle has a ten-year old daughter, she will also have to be included in the application.  

Family sponsorship: Adopted children and other relatives fees
Family sponsorship: Adopted children and other relatives fees

Option 3:  Parents and Grandparents Sponsorship

The Parents or Grandparents Program (PGP).  

Family sponsorship: Parents and grandparents fees
Family sponsorship: Parents and grandparents fees

What is PGP? 

PGP is a program dedicated entirely to facilitating the sponsorship of parents and grandparents for citizens and permanent residents of Canada. 

Who does this include? 

  • Your parents or grandparents;
  • Their spouses (if divorced or widowed); 
  • Dependent children (your siblings related by blood or through adoption): 

The application process is similar to sponsorship, however, you will first need to complete an ‘interest to sponsor form’. Once the form is received, you will be invited to submit an application form. Not everyone who submits an interest to sponsor form will be asked to complete the application forms. Because there is a maximum number of applicants Canada accepts under this PGP, there is a cap. 

However, your interest form will be retained and you may be contacted for the following year. So make sure to keep your information updated with Immigration Canada. 

If this is something you are considering for your parents, you need to move quickly. The target for 2019 is admitting 20,500 people (however, they are currently no longer accepting interest forms), this target will be increased for 2020 to 21,000 people. 

Because of the limited availability, some people opt to bring their parents or grandparents to Canada through the supervisa

Option 4: Spousal Sponsorship

Finally, you can also sponsor your spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner.

The process of sponsoring your spouse is similar to that of sponsoring anyone else mentioned above, however, if you apply under the Spouse or Common-law partner in Canada class, there is a possibility they may be able to apply for an Open Work Permit. This means your spouse can work for any Canadian employer for a period of time.

Your responsibilities when sponsoring your spouse are the same as when you are sponsoring anyone else. Details of what they are, are detailed below.

Restrictions to Sponsorship: 

Not everyone who is a permanent resident or Canadian Citizen is eligible for sponsoring someone. If your situation falls under any of the conditions below, you will not be allowed to sponsor anyone. 

  • Incarceration; 
  • Outstanding child support payments or alimony; 
  • Declared bankruptcy; 
  • Sponsored someone else before and failed to meet the agreements; 

These are just some examples of why you may be prevented from sponsoring someone, keep in mind every individual case is different. To know the eligibility requirements for your own case and situation, it is best to speak with a Regulated Canadian Approved Consultant. 

Who Cannot be Sponsored? 

It is possible to meet all the criteria listed above and still not be eligible for sponsorship. Canadian law forbids anyone who is considered to be ‘inadmissible’ from coming to Canada. Someone may be considered inadmissible if they have a criminal record, have terrorist connections, or have medical issues among other things. 

If the person you are looking to sponsor is considered inadmissible, they unfortunately, will not qualify for sponsorship. 

What is the Sponsorship Application Process Like? 

The process is long! But all good things take time, so don’t be discouraged by the amount of paperwork. 

In order for your relative to get their permanent residency (PR), you have to sponsor them and they have to apply for their PR. The application for sponsoring and PR have to be sent at the same time. 

The application package can be found on Immigration Canada’s website, it includes all the forms you will need as well as detailed instructions. However, things might get complicated. You might need help completing the form or you have questions, therefore, contact an RCIC approved consultant and they will walk you through everything step-by-step. 

There is a fee involved with the application process, which will need to be paid with your application. Once the package is complete, it needs to be mailed out. The RCIC can help you with that as well.

A government agent will review the package and let you know if you’re missing information or if there are any problems. If they have everything they need, they will begin processing your request and provide you with an application number. 

Wait times vary person to person, country to country. But generally it will be several months to a year before you hear back one way or another. Throughout the process, your relative may have to go for biometrics, a medical examination and a criminal background check. 

To track the process of your application, you can link it to an online account and receive email updates on what’s happening with your application. 

What Are Your Responsibilities? (As Sponsor)

When you sponsor someone, your responsibility does not end with submitting the necessary paperwork. By submitting an application you are agreeing to support them financially for up to twenty years and provide basic requirements such as clothing, food, shelter and medical expenses which are not covered by the province such as dental and vision care. 

The person you are sponsoring also signs an agreement stating they will do their best to support themselves and find gainful employment. 

But until that happens, keep in mind you are responsible for their well-being. 

Key Take Away: 

People sponsor or apply for Supervisa for any number of reasons such as wanting to be reunited with a spouse or child, a desire to give an orphaned nephew a better life or taking care of aging parents. Whatever the reason, whatever your situation, Canada has many fantastic options for visas, immigration and sponsorship so when you emigrate to Canada it doesn’t mean saying goodbye to everyone you left behind.

You may have left home to study in Canada and now that you’ve finished school, you have a career, you got married and you’re thinking of starting a family. It’s natural to want your parents around so your children can know them and love them. 

If this seems like a lot of information to process or you’re confused about where to start, reach out to an RCIC and find out everything you need to do in order to sponsor your parents or other family members. 

You’ve worked hard to build a beautiful life for yourself here, make it more special by sharing your goals and achievements with loved ones. 

Nadia

Nadia

The child of immigrant parents, I came to Canada when I was just five years old. I used to volunteer at an immigration resource centre and now work for the Canadian Federal Government. Writing is my passion and I hope my words can provide some help to a new immigrant or someone considering a move to Canada.

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