Our Services

Family Reunification

Family Class Sponsorship Program

If you are a Canadian permanent resident or citizen with a family member who wants to immigrate to Canada, you may be able to help them become a permanent resident. Family reunification remains one of the pillars of the Canadian immigration system.

The Family Class Sponsorship Program reunites families by enabling adult permanent residents or citizens to sponsor a relative for immigration to Canada. To be eligible for sponsorship, you must be one of the following:

  1. Spouse, common-law, or conjugal partner
  2. Dependant child
  3. Parent
  4. Grandparent
  5. Sibling, nephew, niece, or grandchild under 18 years who is unmarried and whose parents are deceased

The person sponsored must live outside Canada, unless they are residing legally in Canada temporarily. For example, with a work or study permit.

Who is a Spouse/Partner?

Individuals under these categories are eligible for sponsorship:

  • Spouse: legally valid marriage in country of origin and under Canadian law
  • Common-Law Partner: At least 1 year of uninterrupted cohabitation in a conjugal relationship
  • Conjugal Partner: Conjugal relationship for at least 12 months (permanence and commitment like marriage or common-law) where a couple is prevented from living together due to immigration barriers, religious reasons, sexual orientation or marital status (e.g. married to someone else, where divorce is not possible in country of origin)
  • Same-Sex Relationships: considered valid for immigration purposes under these categories

Who is a Dependant Child?

A child of the sponsor, or a child of the sponsor’s spouse or common-law partner, can be considered a dependant child if they are under age 22 and do not have a spouse or common-law partner of their own. 

Children over age 22 can be dependants if they rely on their parents for financial support before age 22 and are unable to financially support themselves due to a mental or physical condition. Children in sole custody of a previous spouse are still considered dependent children and must be declared on the sponsorship application. If a dependent child being sponsored has one or more dependent children of their own, then the sponsor must prove their financial capacity by meeting a low-income cut-off (LICO).

Who can Sponsor?

A sponsor must be a Canadian permanent resident or citizen over the age of 18. A sponsor must reside in Canada, unless they are a citizen currently living abroad and planning to reside in Canada once the sponsored individual arrives.

An individual may not sponsor if they:

  1. Are subject to a removal order
  2. Are in the process of bankruptcy
  3. Are in prison
  4. Receive social assistance from the government (except for disability)
  5. Have failed to pay child support payments
  6. Have failed to pay back immigration loans, or have made late or missed payments
  7. Have sponsored a family member in the past and failed to meet the terms
  8. Have been convicted of (or attempted/threatened to commit) an offence of a violent or sexual nature, or resulting in bodily harm of a family member
  9. Have sponsored a previous spouse or partner who has not been a permanent resident for more than 3 years
  10. Were also sponsored themselves and became a permanent resident less than 5 years ago

Other Requirements

The Canadian government requires payment of sponsorship and processing fees for Family Class applications. Additionally, there is a “Right of Permanent Residence Fee” for every sponsored relative who is not a dependent child – this is the only fee that will be refunded if the application is withdrawn or refused.  


2) Sponsorship Agreement

Notably, the sponsor must agree to financially support their family member in the case that their relative cannot provide for their own needs. This is to ensure that the new permanent resident will not require government assistance. The length of this financial obligation depends on the individual being sponsored;

  • Spouse, Common-Law, or Conjugal Partner: 3 years
  • Dependent Child: 10 years OR when the child reaches age 22 (whichever comes first); 3 years for a dependent child over age 22.
  • Parent or Grandparent: 20 years
  • Relatives: 10 years

Note that this financial obligation does not disappear if the sponsored person becomes a citizen, divorces, or separates from the sponsor, or moves away from Canada.

3) Medical Exam

The sponsored individual is required to submit the results of a medical exam at the time of application, including biometrics for applicants from Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

4) Police Certificates

Applicants and each family member over age 18 must submit police certificates from the country where they have lived most of their life, in addition to any country where they resided for more than 6 months.


If an individual does not meet the requirements listed above and as a result does not qualify for Family Class Sponsorship, they may still be eligible to immigrate through the Express Entry system if they have experience or skill in a specific trade or occupation.   

A few provinces also offer family sponsorship through Provincial Nominee Programs; some have fewer requirements and allow sponsorship for more distant relatives.

To sponsor an adopted child, applications cannot be processed directly through the Family Class Sponsorship program. Adoptions are the responsibility of Canadian provinces and territories, so interested sponsors should inquire on their province or territory’s website before applying to Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

In addition, a sponsor cannot be subject to a removal order, detained in prison, or in default of any previous sponsorship undertaking or payment obligation ordered by the court. Finally, a sponsor cannot have declared bankruptcy or be in receipt of social assistance, other than for reason of disability. 

About criminal convictions, 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.

For most cases, the sponsor must reside in Canada to make a sponsorship application. However, a Canadian citizen can 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.

For more information on the Family sponsorship