Spousal Sponsorships and Criminal Convictions

By Chau Kaur

Citizenship and Immigration Canada has proposed regulatory changes regarding who will be prohibited from sponsoring a member of the family class due to previous criminal convictions.  Before discussing the proposals, it is worth reviewing the current law.

It is also important to note that the failure of a sponsorship application does not mean that the application under the family class will fail.  They are two separate things.  If you do not understand this, then please contact me.

Currently, an individual is barred from sponsoring a member of the family class where the individual has been convicted of an offense of a sexual nature against anyone, or of an offense that results in “bodily harm” against a specific member of their family.  For the purposes of an offence that result in bodily harm, the listed family relationships include:

  • a relative (related by blood or adoption) or family member (spouse, common-law partner, dependent child, dependent child of a dependent child) or conjugal partner of the sponsor; and
  • a relative or family member of the sponsor’s spouse, common-law or conjugal partner.

The sponsorship bar is in effect until the individual is either pardoned or acquitted, or where five years has elapsed since the completion of an imposed sentence.

Under the proposed changes, anyone who has been convicted of an indictable offense involving the use of violence punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of at least 10 years or an attempt to commit such an offense will be barred from sponsorship.

As well, for the purpose of an offense that results in bodily harm, the listed family relationships will be expanded to include:

  • former family members of the sponsor;
  • former family members of a family member or conjugal partner of the sponsor;
  • current and former family members of a relative of the sponsor or the sponsor’s family member;
  • former conjugal partner of the sponsor, as well as current and former family members of the conjugal partner’s relatives;
  • a child under the current or former care and control of the sponsor, their current or former family member, or conjugal partner;
  • a child under the current or former care and control of a relative of the sponsor or a current or former family member of that relative; and
  • someone with whom the sponsor dates or has dated, whether or not they live together, or a family member of that person.

Once again, it is also important to note that the failure of a sponsorship application does not mean that the application under the family class will fail.   If you are concerned about this, then please contact me.


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