Canada generally wants to bring families together. If you have relatives living in Canada, they may be eligible to sponsor your immigration application. Eligibility to the Family Class program is limited, but if even if you don’t qualify, you would still get points for having family members in Canada if you try to apply through Express Entry.

Who can sponsor you?

The Family Class program is primarily geared towards reunifying Canadians with their parents and grandparents. In addition, some Canadians may be eligible to sponsor other family members if they do not have any family members in Canada and have no living parents or grandparents they could sponsor instead.

If you are sponsored for PR status in Canada by a family member, you can apply along with your spouse or common-law-partner and dependent children to immigrate to Canada.

Children and grandchildren

If you are the parent or grandparent of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, they can apply to sponsor your immigration through the Parent and Grandparent Program. Only 10,000 applications are accepted each year via a lottery system. As of early 2017, all applications to sponsor a parent or grandparent need to be submitted between January 3 and February 2. The applications that are selected need to be completed within 30 days. Then, 10,000 sponsors will be invited to complete the full application for the Parent and Grandparent Program within 90 days. Those that aren’t selected are allowed to re-apply the following year. For the applications that are approved, Canada aims to process the immigration process within a year. Due to the number of applications received, it’s estimated that this lottery system gives each applicant a 20% chance of getting selected. 

In spite of whatever finances you have yourself, your child or grandchild that sponsors you will need to demonstrate that they have the means to support you themselves for a period of 20 years.

Other family members

Sponsorship can be extended to other family members, but only if your relative is living in Canada alone. In order to qualify, they’d have to demonstrate that they:

  • Have no spouse or common-law partner
  • Have no living parents or grandparents anywhere in the world
  • Have no relatives living in Canada including children, parents, grandparents, siblings, uncles, aunts, nieces, or nephews

If they happen to meet the above criteria, they could then sponsor a close family member such as a child, sibling, uncle, aunt, niece, or nephew. If they have no living family members that fit into one of those categories, then they could apply to sponsor any relative related by blood or adoption, such as a cousin.

Requirements for your sponsor

Your family member must be over the age of 18, currently living in Canada, eligible to sponsor you, and none of the following conditions can apply to them:

  • Has ever received government financial assistance (with the exception of disability)
  • Defaulted on a court-ordered support order (alimony, child support)
  • Have never been convicted of a violent crime, crime of a sexual nature, or crime against a relative. Depending on the crime, there may be exceptions to this restriction and if a record suspension was issued. If this applies, you’re best off speaking with an immigration attorney.   
  • Defaulted on an immigration loan
  • Is currently in prison
  • Has declared bankruptcy and is not yet released from it
  • Has sponsored another family member for immigration but failed to financial support them

Financial Undertaking

While you are expected to make all attempts to support yourself once you become a resident of Canada, your family member must promise to support you financially for 10-20 years. For that reason, they will need to meet certain income requirements in order to be eligible to sponsor you. This is to ensure that you would not need to apply for social assistance in Canada after you immigrate. Different types of family members will require different periods of undertaking:

  • Parent or grandparent: 20 years
  • Any other family member: 10 years

They will have to sign an undertaking promising to provide financial support as well as basic requirements including food, clothing, utilities, shelter, fuel, household supplies, as well as health care not covered by the provincial health care system such as vision and dental care. This undertaking is to make sure that you would not have to rely on public assistance once you arrive in Canada. The only way this undertaking can be cancelled is if you leave Canada and forfeit your permanent resident status.

Depending on family size, they will need to demonstrate proof of minimum income for the previous 3 tax years. The amount of income varies depending on how many people your sponsor is financially responsible for including themselves, their spouse, their dependent children, any relatives they or their co-signer have sponsored for immigration in the past and are still responsible for according to those undertaking agreements.

The income requirements that your sponsor would need to meet increase slightly each year, but at the time of this writing in 2016, they are currently at:

Size of family Quebec All other provinces
1 $22,590
2 $30,495 $39,372
3 $37,650 $48,404
4 $43,301 $58,768
5 $48,192 $66,654
6 $53,083 $75,174
7 $57,974 $83,695
Each additional family member $4,891 $8,271

If the family member that sponsors you is unable to meet the financial requirements on their own, they can include a co-signer that would be equally responsible for your support. A co-signer is often the spouse of the sponsor and would be responsible for the undertaking for the same period of time, even in the event of divorce.

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