Sponsor your Family to Immigrate to Canada

Last updated: 14 September 2021

Canada family immigration sponsorship

Canada welcomes more than 100,000 immigrants through family sponsorship each year. 

IRCC (formerly CIC) welcomes about 80 per cent of these immigrants under the Spouses, Partners, and Children Program, and the remaining 20 per cent under the Parents and Grandparents Program. This comprehensive CanadaVisa page provides an overview on how to sponsor your family for immigration to Canada.

Find out if you are eligible to sponsor your family


Table of Contents


Overview of Canadian Immigration Family Sponsorship

Family reunification is one of the pillars of Canada's immigration system. Since the end of the Second World War, Canada has sought to welcome immigrants to strengthen its economy, bring families together, and on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. The family class is the second largest category of newcomers welcomed by Canada under its Immigration Levels Plan. Canada is pursuing the highest levels of immigration in its history to support its post-COVID economic recovery. As such, Canada aims to welcome over 400,000 new immigrants per year, of which, over 100,000 immigrants per year fall under the family class.

The country's immigration system is managed by the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada or IRCC for short. The department was previously known as Citizenship and Immigration Canada, or CIC for short. IRCC establishes and administers Canada's family sponsorship program. This entails establishing program criteria, accepting and reviewing family sponsorship applications, and providing permanent and temporary resident visas.

What is Canadian family sponsorship?

There are two main aspects to sponsorship:

1) It allows your family member to immigrate to Canada and get permanent residence (PR).

2) It requires you, as an individual, to make a commitment to provide for basic needs and to support that person financially.

How is COVID-19 impacting family sponsorship?

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is still accepting family sponsorship applications.

While the processing of sponsorship applications has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, the Canadian government continues to look for innovative and compassionate ways to reunite families.

Here are some of the steps that have been taken:

  • IRCC has increased the number of staff who will review spousal sponsorship applications by 66% to reduce wait times and process applications more quickly.
  • IRCC is also implementing a pilot project that will use new technology to digitize paper applications for faster processing.
  • IRCC has indicated that it may implement biometric facilitation measures and introduce technology to conduct interviews with applicants remotely.
  • If you received Employment Insurance and Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), you can still sponsor your spouse, parent, grandparent, child or other family member as long as you meet all the requirements to be a sponsor.
  • If the person you have sponsored received Employment Insurance (EI) or CERB during the undertaking period, this will not cause you to have to default on your obligations.

Visit our COVID-19 page to get the latest updates on how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting family class immigration sponsorship.

Can I be a sponsor?

To sponsor a family member, you are required to meet several requirements such as being:

  • a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada
  • 18 years of age or older
  • able to support the sponsored person for several years

Who can I sponsor?

  • Spouses and common-law partners
  • Dependent children
  • Parents and grandparents

There are exceptions to this rule, however, and it may be possible to sponsor a non-immediate family member (for example, a sister, niece, or uncle) if: 

  • you do not have any other immediate family members you could sponsor, or
  • you have legally adopted them and they meet the definition of a dependent child.

What are the income requirements to sponsor?

As a sponsor, you are required to sign a Sponsorship Agreement with your sponsored family member. This is a commitment by you to provide financial support for the basic needs (food, clothing, shelter, and health needs not covered by public health services) of the person you are sponsoring.

For some types of sponsorships, you will also have to meet or exceed the Low Income Cut-off (LICO), for instance if:

  • you are sponsoring a spouse or partner who has a dependent child and that dependent child has one or more children of their own, or
  • you are sponsoring a dependent child who has one or more dependent children of their own, or
  • you are sponsoring a parent or grandparent.

If you reside in Quebec, you will have to meet Quebec's sponsorship requirements and your income will be assessed by the Quebec immigration ministry.

What is a sponsorship undertaking?

You will be required to sign an "undertaking" making you legally responsible for the family member you are sponsoring. If that family member should need government social assistance, you will have to repay this money.

The undertaking will stay in effect for a period of time based on the family member you are sponsoring and will not be cancelled even if circumstances change (i.e. if the person you are sponsoring becomes a Canadian citizen, if you divorce or separate, if you have financial problems).

The length of the undertaking you will be required to sign will depend on the family member you are sponsoring and, in the case of children, their age:

Sponsored person Length of undertaking (excluding Quebec)

Spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner

3 years

Dependent child

10 years, or until age 25, whichever comes first

Dependent child 22 years of age or older

3 years

Parent or grandparent

20 years

Other relative

10 years

For Quebec residents, the length of the undertaking also depends on the family member you are sponsoring and, in the case of children, their age:

Sponsored person Length of undertaking

Spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner

3 years

Dependent child under 16 years of age

Minimum 10 years (or until age 18), whichever is longer

Dependent child 16 years of age and older

Minimum 3 years (or until age 25), whichever is longer

Other relatives

10 years


How to Apply for Family Sponsorship

Step 1: Ensure you meet eligibility criteria to be a sponsor.

Step 2: Ensure that the relatives you intend to sponsor meet eligibility criteria.

Step 3: You will need to apply at the federal level to the Ministry of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and, if you are a Quebec resident, at the provincial level to the Ministry of Immigration, Francization, and Integration (MIFI). You must submit your sponsorship application and the permanent residence (PR) status applications of your family members or relatives together. Once you have been deemed eligible to sponsor, your PR application will be reviewed.

Step 4: You will be required to pay the family sponsorship application fee.

Step 5: Send your application to the right address. You will find this information in the sponsorship guide that is available for download on the government website.

Find out if you are eligible to sponsor your family


Sponsor your Wife, Husband, or Common-law Partner

Spouse or Common Law-Partner Sponsorship

If you are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada you may sponsor:

  • your spouse (you are legally married)
  • common-law partner (you are not legally married but have been living together for at least 12 months in a conjugal relationship).
  • conjugal partner (you are not legally married or in a common-law relationship and they are living outside Canada)

To be eligible for spousal or common-law partner sponsorship, you must:

  • be 18 year of age, a Canadian permanent resident living in Canada or Canadian citizen,
  • demonstrate that you can provide for the basic needs for yourself and your spouse or partner,
  • Prove your relationship with the sponsored person is genuine by providing supporting documentation.

To be eligible for spousal or common-law partner sponsorship, the sponsored person must:

  • be at least 18 years of age and not too closely related to you.

Find out if you are eligible to sponsor your partner

There are two types of spousal or common-law sponsorship applications:

  • Inland: The application can be made from within Canada because the person you wish to sponsor is currently in Canada. This type of sponsorship allows applicants to continue to live in Canada while their application for permanent residence is being processed.

If the application is made from within Canada, the person you are sponsoring may apply for an open work permit that would allow them to work for any employer in Canada while the sponsorship application is being processed.

It is possible for spouses or partners to come to Canada by first applying for a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV).

  • Outland: The application is made from abroad through an Embassy or Consulate.

In this case, the person you are sponsoring and who resides abroad will normally wait for permanent residence outside of the country but may visit you in Canada.


Sponsor your Dependent Children

Dependent Child Sponsorship

You can sponsor your dependent children, whether natural or adopted, to live with you as permanent residents in Canada.

Children must meet the following definition of a dependent child to be eligible for sponsorship:

  • A child is considered a dependent if he or she is not married or in a common-law relationship and is under 22 years of age.
  • If a child is over 22 years of age, they may be considered a dependent if they have a physical or mental condition that prevents them from being able to support themselves.

To be eligible under this program, you:

  • and your child abroad must be approved by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to receive a visa,
  • must prove your relationship with the child you are sponsoring, either by a birth or adoption certificate.

Sponsor your Parents or Grandparents

Parents and Grandparents Sponsorship

The Parent and Grandparent Sponsorship Program (PGP) and the Super Visa Program are two programs that offer Canadian citizens and permanent residents the opportunity to bring their parents and grandparents to Canada.

To be eligible under the Parents and Grandparents Program, you must:

  • be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident living in Canada,
  • be at least 18 years of age,
  • be the child or grandchild of the person(s) you are sponsoring,
  • meet the Minimum Necessary Income (MNI) required for the size of their family unit and provide Canada Revenue Agency issued notices of assessment as proof,
  • sign a sponsorship agreement that acknowledges your promise to provide for the basic needs of family member(s) for a period of 20 years,
  • sign an additional agreement if you live in Quebec.

Your spouse or common-law partner can help you meet the income requirement by co-signing the undertaking.

If a co-signer is helping you meet the MNI requirements, the co-signer must meet the same eligibility criteria as you, the sponsor. In addition, your co-signer must:

  • not be the person being sponsored,
  • have cohabited with you in a conjugal relationship for at least one year.

Learn more about sponsoring your parents and grandparents

Super Visa Program

The Super Visa program allows parents and grandparents to come to Canada on extended multiple-entry visas that can last up to 10 years in total. This program is always open, and it is possible to apply at the same time as the to PGP.

To be eligible under the Super Visa Program, you must:

  • be the parent or grandparent of a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada,
  • have signed a letter of invitation from your child or grandchild,
  • have medical insurance
  • apply for the super visa from outside Canada.

In addition, your Canadian child or grandchild will have to prove that their household meets the minimum necessary income.

Contact us if you want to apply for a Super Visa!


Frequently Asked Questions

Under family sponsorship programs, the following individuals can be included in the sponsored person's application for a Canada immigration visa:

  • The spouse, common-law partner, or conjugal partner of the sponsored person
  • The dependent children of the sponsored person
  • The dependent children of the sponsored person's spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner
  • The dependent children of the sponsored person's dependent children
  • The dependent children of the sponsored person's spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner's children.

The income required will vary depending on the type of sponsorship you undertake and the number of family members you already have in your care. You will be required to sign a promise to provide for the basic needs of the family member you are sponsoring.

Some sponsorship options will also require you to demonstrate that you have a minimum income in order to be eligible to sponsor. This is for instance the case with the Parent and Grandparent Sponsorship Program.

You must exceed the Minimum Necessary Income (MNI) requirement set by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for each of the past 3 taxation years before the date that you submit your application. Your MNI is assessed based on your Canada Revenue Agency Notice of Assessment.

Sponsors living in the province of Quebec must meet different income requirements.

The sponsor must undertake to provide the sponsored family members with:

  • food, clothing, shelter, and other necessities of life
  • dental and eye care and other health needs not covered by public health services available to all Canadian citizens and permanent residents.

The obligation to provide for the basic needs of the sponsored person(s) will only arise if the sponsored person(s) are unable to provide for these needs on their own.

Yes, the undertaking to provide "Essential Needs" can be shared by a co-signer, but only by the sponsor's spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner.

You and your co-signer, if applicable, are required to sign an undertaking with the Government of Canada, and if you live in Quebec with the government of that province, promising to provide for the basic needs of the sponsored person(s) for a period of time following the arrival of the sponsored person(s) in Canada.

The purpose of this agreement is to ensure that sponsored family members do not become dependent on Canadian social assistance or welfare.

The period during which you will be financially responsible for the person you are sponsoring begins on the day they become a permanent resident and varies depending on the type of family member:

Sponsored person Length of undertaking (excluding Quebec)

Spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner

3 years

Dependent child

10 years, or until age 25, whichever comes first

Dependent child 22 years of age or older

3 years

Parent or grandparent

20 years

Other relative

10 years

For Quebec residents, the length of the undertaking also depends on the family member you are sponsoring and, in the case of children, their age:

Sponsored person Length of undertaking

Souse, common-law partner or conjugal partner

3 years

Dependent child under 16 years of age

Minimum 10 years (or until age 18), whichever is longer

Dependent child 16 years of age and older

Minimum 3 years (or until age 25), whichever is longer

Other relatives

10 years

The undertaking, once made, cannot be cancelled or modified by the sponsor at any time after the Sponsored family members have arrived in Canada.

Failure to meet any of the commitments provided for in the undertaking may result in legal action being taken against the sponsor and the co-signer.

If the sponsor does not have the required financial ability, the spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner of the sponsor may act as a co-signer to the undertaking. In such case, their combined financial abilities will be assessed, and the co-signer will be equally liable in case of default.

If the combined financial abilities of the sponsor and the co-signer still do not meet the minimum requirements, then the Family Sponsorship Application will be refused.

The financial ability requirements do not apply if the sponsored person is a spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner or a dependent child of the sponsor.

The sponsor is obliged to enter into a sponsorship Agreement with the sponsored person(s). By signing this agreement, the sponsor agrees to provide for the "Essential needs" of the sponsored person(s), and the sponsored person(s) promise to make every effort to become self-supporting.

Yes, it is possible for the sponsored person to work, as long as they have a work permit. While spousal or common-law partner applications are being processed, sponsored persons must maintain their legal status in Canada (visitor, student or worker).

The spouse or partner you are sponsoring may apply for an open work permit and must obtain authorization before starting work. It takes approximately 4 to 5 months to process this application. An open work permit does not relate to either the employer or the job and allows the holder to work for almost any Canadian employer without first obtaining a confirmed job offer.

Yes. Your spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner can be of either sex.

Fees In Canadian dollars

Sponsorship Fee

$ 75

Principal applicant processing fee

$ 475

Right of Permanent Residence Fee

$ 500

Biometrics

$ 85

Total

$ 1, 135

If you are sponsoring your spouse and he or she has dependent children, an additional payment of $150 will be required for each child included in the application.

If the sponsor resides in Quebec or intends to reside in Quebec when permanent residence is issued, an additional fee of $289 CAD will also be required.

No. Once you are married or in a common-law relationship, you can then apply for a spousal sponsorship. The married spouse will only become a permanent resident of Canada after your sponsorship application is approved.

The sponsorship process can begin when the adoption is in its final phase. However, your application will not be processed until a final adoption decision has been made.

No, but whether they are accompanying the sponsored person or not, all of the sponsored person's dependents are required to pass applicable police and security clearances, and medical examinations.

In rare cases, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada may want to meet with you and your sponsored family member. This may happen if there is no documentation to support the relationship, or if there is conflicting information on the forms and documents submitted, for example, age and religious difference, or little or no cohabitation.

In most cases, you will not have to submit proof of income when sponsoring your spouse for immigration to Canada. However, an immigration officer may ask you to attend an interview and ask how you will support yourself and your spouse.

Yes. To do so, you will need to submit separate applications for each person (or couple) you are sponsoring. Applications will be processed separately.

You may be ineligible for sponsorship if you:

  • are in prison
  • have not paid your child support payments
  • have declared bankruptcy and have not yet been discharged
  • has defaulted on an immigration loan, made late payments, or defaulted on payments
  • have sponsored another relative in the past and have not complied with the terms of the sponsorship agreement
  • were convicted of a violent crime

To apply to sponsor your relative, you must go through the following steps:

  • Get the application package from the government website and read the instruction guide, fill out the forms.
  • Pay your application fee (including processing fees, biometrics and third-party fees).
  • Send your application to the mailing address indicated in the application guide.
  • Spousal sponsorship applications take approximately 12 months to process.
  • The processing of applications for dependent children varies by country.
  • The processing of PGP applications takes between 20 and 24 months.

Under its Immigration Levels Plan, Canada seeks to welcome over 100,000 family class immigrants per year.

IRCC provides guidelines on how to demonstrate proof of relationship in your application.

The requirements vary based on the person you are sponsoring. For example, a birth certificate can be used as proof when you are looking to sponsor a parent, grandparent, or child.

A marriage certificate can be used when you look to sponsor your spouse. Other documents that can help you with respect to spousal sponsorship include photographs, travel itineraries, bank accounts, emails, wedding invitations, and more.

According to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the evidence you submit to IRCC should include:

  • a completed version of the IMM 5532 questionnaire which is called the "Relationship Information and Sponsorship Evaluation" (it is included in your application package)
  • a marriage certificate and proof that the marriage has been registered with a government authority
  • proof of divorce if a spouse was previously married
  • if the couple have children in common, long-form birth certificates or adoption records containing the names of both parents
  • wedding invitations and photos
  • couples are also expected to provide documents from at least two of the following. They need to provide a written explanation if they cannot provide a minimum of two of the following sets of documents:
    • evidence of joint ownership of residential property
    • rental agreement showing the couple are occupants of the property
    • evidence of joint utility accounts (such as electricity, gas, telephone, internet), joint credit cards or bank accounts
    • car insurance showing the couple have both been declared to the insurance company as residents of the same address
    • government issued identification showing the same address (such as a driver's license)
    • other documents issued to the couple showing they have the same address (such as cellphone bills, pay stubs, financial statements, tax records, insurance policies, etc).

IRCC says your evidence should include:

  • a completed IMM 5532 questionnaire (this is included in your application package)
  • evidence of separation from a former spouse if either member of the couple was previously married
  • a completed IMM 5519 form if either member of the couple was previously in a common-law relationship with someone else
  • long-form birth certificates listing the names of both parents if both members of the couple have children in common
  • photos of the couple together
  • at least two of the following sets of documents (or a written explanation if you are unable to provide documents from at least two of the following):
    • documents showing the couple is recognized as being in a common-law relationship (such as employment or insurance benefits)
    • evidence of shared expenses or financial support among the couple
    • evidence that the relationship is recognized by friends and/or family (letters, social media information showing the relationship is public)

If the couple is living together, they need to provide evidence of at least two of the following sets of documents (or a written explanation as to why they are unable to provide at least two of the following sets of documents):

  • evidence of joint ownership of residential property
  • evidence of joint ownership of residential property
  • rental agreement showing the couple are occupants of the property
  • evidence of joint utility accounts (such as electricity, gas, telephone, internet), joint credit cards or bank accounts
  • car insurance showing the couple have both been declared to the insurance company as residents of the same address
  • government issued identification showing the same address (such as a driver's license)
  • other documents issued to the couple showing they have the same address (such as cellphone bills, pay stubs, financial statements, tax records, insurance policies, etc)

If the couple is not living together, they need to show evidence they previously lived together for at least one year via the following:

  • evidence they have been in contact together via letters, text messages that have been printed, email, social media conversations, or other documents showing they have been in contact. This should be a maximum of 10 pages of evidence.
  • Evidence that the Canadian citizen or permanent resident has visited their partner via flight tickets or boarding passes, passport photocopies with stamps. If visits did not take place, an explanation needs to be included by the sponsored individual in the IMM 5532 questionnaire (Part C, question 4).

Contact the Campbell Cohen Immigration Law Firm for Assistance

Campbell Cohen is one of Canada's leading immigration law firms. We have over 45 years of experience and feature a team of over 60 Canadian immigration attorneys, paralegals, and other dedicated professionals.

Campbell Cohen uses its expertise to bring families together in Canada. We provide professional legal services in areas such as sponsoring spouses, partners, children, parents and grandparents, as well as the Super Visa.

CanadaVisa.com was founded in 1994 as the online presence of Campbell Cohen. Since then, CanadaVisa has grown into one of the world's most trusted resources on immigration to Canada. Please connect with us so we can support your family sponsorship needs:

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