CIC refers to the immigrants who are eligible to use this family sponsoring process as the Family Class.
If you become a permanent resident, you can live, study and work in Canada. For more information about being a permanent resident in Canada, see the Related Links section at the bottom of this page.
When you arrive in Canada as a permanent resident, you must make every reasonable effort to provide for your own essential needs and those of your family.
If you sponsor a relative to come to Canada as a permanent resident, you are responsible for supporting your relative financially when he or she arrives. As a sponsor, you must make sure your spouse or relative does not need to seek financial assistance from the government.
The process to sponsor your family begins when you, as a citizen or permanent resident in Canada, apply to be a sponsor.
There are two different processes for sponsoring your family. One process is used for sponsoring your spouse, conjugal or common-law partner and/or dependent children. Another process is used to sponsor other eligible relatives.
Who can apply
An application for Family Class sponsorship can be made if your spouse, common-law or conjugal partner, or dependent children live inside or outside Canada.
The first step is for you to apply as the sponsor. Both you, as the sponsor, and your relative must meet certain requirements.
Applicants for permanent residence must go through medical, criminal and background screening. Applicants with a criminal record may not be allowed to enter Canada. People who pose a risk to Canada’s security are also not allowed to enter Canada. Applicants may have to provide a certificate from police authorities in their home country. The Sponsor’s Guide for Family Class explains medical, criminal and background checks. For more information, go to the Quick Find section on the right-hand side of this page.
- Sponsoring a spouse, partner or dependent child
- Common-law partner
- Conjugal partner
- Dependent children
- Relationships that are not eligible
You can apply as a sponsor if your spouse, common-law or conjugal partner, or accompanying dependent children live with you in Canada, even if they do not have legal status in Canada. However, all the other requirements must be met.
You can also apply as a sponsor if your spouse, common-law or conjugal partner, or dependent children live outside Canada, and if they meet all the requirements.
When you sponsor a spouse, common-law or conjugal partner, or dependent children to become permanent residents of Canada, you must promise to support them financially. Therefore, you have to meet certain income requirements. If you have previously sponsored relatives to come to Canada and they have later turned to the government for financial assistance, you may not be allowed to sponsor another person. Sponsorship is a big commitment, so you must take this obligation seriously.
To be a sponsor:
- You and the sponsored relative must sign a sponsorship agreement that commits you to provide financial support for your relative, if necessary. This agreement also says the person becoming a permanent resident will make every effort to support her or himself.
- You must provide financial support for a spouse, common-law or conjugal partner for three years from the date they become a permanent resident.
- You must provide financial support for a dependent child for 10 years, or until the child turns 25, whichever comes first.
- failed to provide financial support you agreed to when you signed a sponsorship agreement to sponsor another relative in the past
- defaulted on a court-ordered support order, such as alimony or child support
- received government financial assistance for reasons other than a disability
- were convicted of a violent criminal offence, any offence against a relative or any sexual offence—depending on circumstances such as the nature of the offence, how long ago it occurred and whether a pardon was issued
- defaulted on an immigration loan—late or missed payments
- are in prison or
- have declared bankruptcy and have not been released from it yet.
If you live in Quebec, you must also meet Quebec’s immigration sponsorship requirements, after Citizenship and Immigration Canada approves you as a sponsor. For more information, see the Related Links section at the bottom of this page.
If you were married in Canada:
- You must have a marriage certificate issued by the province or territory where the marriage took place.
- The marriage must be valid under the law of the country where it took place and under Canadian law.
- A marriage performed in an embassy or consulate must comply with the law of the country where it took place, not the country of nationality of the embassy or consulate.
You can apply to sponsor your same-sex partner as a spouse if:
- you are a Canadian citizen and permanent resident and
- you were married in Canada and issued a marriage certificate by a Canadian province or territory on or after the following dates:
- British Columbia (on or after July 8, 2003)
- Manitoba (on or after September 16, 2004)
- New Brunswick (on or after July 4, 2005)
- Newfoundland and Labrador (on or after December 21, 2004)
- Nova Scotia (on or after September 24, 2004)
- Ontario (on or after June 10, 2003)
- Quebec (on or after March 19, 2004)
- Saskatchewan (on or after November 5, 2004)
- Yukon (on or after July 14, 2004)
- all other provinces or territories (on or after July 20, 2005).
- the Netherlands
- South Africa
- the State of Massachusetts.
- you have been living together in a conjugal relationship for at least one year in a continuous 12-month period that was not interrupted. (You are allowed short absences for business travel or family reasons, however.)
- joint bank accounts or credit cards
- joint ownership of a home
- joint residential leases
- joint rental receipts
- joint utilities (electricity, gas, telephone)
- joint management of household expenses
- proof of joint purchases, especially for household items or
- mail addressed to either person or both people at the same address.
A conjugal relationship is more than a physical relationship. It means you depend on each other, there is some permanence to the relationship and there is the same level of commitment as a marriage or a common-law relationship.
You may apply as a conjugal partner if:
- you have maintained a conjugal relationship with your sponsor for at least one year and you have been prevented from living together or marrying because of:
- an immigration barrier
- your marital status (for example, you are married to someone else and living in a country where divorce is not possible) or
- your sexual orientation (for example, you are in a same-sex relationship and same-sex marriage is not permitted where you live)
- you can provide evidence there was a reason you could not live together (for example, you were refused long-term stays in each other’s country).
- You could have lived together but chose not to. This shows that you did not have the level of commitment required for a conjugal relationship. (For example, one of you may not have wanted to give up a job or a course of study, or your relationship was not yet at the point where you were ready to live together.)
- You cannot provide evidence there was a reason that kept you from living together.
- You are engaged to be married. In this case, you should either apply as a spouse once the marriage has taken place or apply as a common-law partner if you have lived together continuously for at least 12 months.
- is under the age of 22 and does not have a spouse or common-law partner
- is a full-time student and is substantially dependent on a parent for financial support since before the age of 22, or since becoming a spouse or common-law partner (if this happened before age 22) or
- is financially dependent on a parent since before the age of 22 because of a disability.
- you are under 16 years of age
- you (or your sponsor) were married to someone else at the time of your marriage
- you have lived apart from your sponsor for at least one year and either you (or your sponsor) are the common-law or conjugal partner of another person
- your sponsor immigrated to Canada and, at the time they applied for permanent residence, you were a family member who should have been examined to see if you met immigration requirements, but you were not examined
- your sponsor previously sponsored another spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner, and three years have not passed since that person became a permanent resident