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Canada Immigration – Sponsorship Guidelines

Deciding to sponsor a relative for immigration to Canada as a permanent resident is not a decision to be taken lightly. You are required to be financially responsible for their basic needs for years and need to prove that you are able to provide that support. Once you move forward with this long-term commitment, there is no going back.

Immigrating to Canada and the sponsorship application process can be a lengthy and sometimes stressful process. It is important that you are aware of what to expect during the application process as well as once your relative(s) have arrived in Canada.

Who can be a sponsor, and who you can sponsor?

Sponsors must be at least 18 years old and be either a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident of Canada or a person registered in Canada as an Indian under the Canadian Indian Act.

You may be ineligible to sponsor a relative to immigrate to Canada if you are bankrupt, are in prison, are receiving social assistance but are capable of working, or have outstanding alimony or child support payments, amongst other reasons.

Depending on your status, there are two options for who you can sponsor to immigrate to Canada:

  1. An orphaned sibling, niece, nephew, niece or grandchild, providing they meet all of the stringent criteria under this category; and,

  2. One other blood, adopted or legally declared relative of any age (such as a spouse/partner, parent etc.) providing you meet all of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s criteria.

The sponsorship conditions are very specific depending on who it is you are sponsoring, and the individual situation. This will determine the application package you are required to submit. The complete list of potential sponsored persons includes:

  • spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner;

  • dependent children / adopted children;

  • parents;

  • grandparents;

  • sister / brother;

  • aunt / uncle and,

  • niece / nephew.

While the immigrate to Canada sponsorship process is relatively straightforward when dealing with a nuclear family member, it does get more restrictive when trying to sponsor extended family members such as aunts, uncles, brothers or sisters.

The Government of Canada’s Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship website provides comprehensive information on each category of sponsor and the requirements for each specific situation. If your relative does not meet the criteria, then it is advisable to use the online Come to Canada tool in order to find a program under which they may be eligible for.

Financial Support

Every sponsor must prove that they are able to provide financial support for their relatives’ basic needs for at least a few years. The length of time depends on the person being sponsored – their age, their relationship to you, your location etc. It is important to note that the length of undertaking begins as soon as your sponsor becomes a permanent resident; however, it can differ slightly if you live in Quebec. If you are a resident of Quebec, then your application will be processed by the Ministry of Immigration, Francisation and Integration and fulsome information about Quebec’s sponsorship process is available online.

Life happens, but even if certain circumstances change (i.e. you divorce the spouse your sponsored or you lose your job) you are still responsible for providing financial support for the remaining length of time as determined by the applicable sponsorship situation.

Help with Immigrating to Canada

You are able to handle the sponsorship application process on your own; however, if you are unsure of any steps or need clarification, then it is recommended that you speak with an immigration lawyer. Immigrating to Canada can be a lengthy process, and if your application contains incorrect or inaccurate information, then your application could be refused. Starting the process over again will only take more time and resources that you may not have readily available.

Immigrating to Canada is just as exciting as it can be stressful. If you are looking to sponsor a relative to come to Canada, ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible with a Canadian immigration lawyer. They will breakdown the entire process and explain what is needed in order for your relative to become a permanent resident of Canada.

Please take note that sponsorship applications to sponsor these people have stringent criteria and it is not always possible.


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