If you are a Canadian with family abroad you may sponsor the following people to immigrate to Canada:

  • spouses, common-law partners, and conjugal partners;
  • dependent children;
  • children intended for adoption;
  • parents and grandparents;
  • brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, or grandchildren if they are orphaned and under 18; and
  • any relative if the sponsor is alone in Canada and has none of the above family members to sponsor.

However, the ability to sponsor someone is not automatic. You have to apply to sponsor someone. You will not be eligible to sponsor someone if:

  • You do not reside in Canada and cannot convince immigration authorities that you intend to live in Canada;
  • You are subject to a removal order;
  • You are in default of spousal or child support payments;
  • You do not meet the low income-cut off test (except for sponsors of spouses, common-law partners, conjugal partners, or children);
  • You are in default of a previous sponsorship undertaking;
  • You are not an undischarged bankrupt;
  • You are in default of a debt owed under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act;
  • You have previously been convicted of a specified offense;
  • You are detained in prison; or
  • You are unwilling to sign a sponsorship undertaking.

The sponsorship undertaking is a requirement that many potential applicants are unaware of. As a sponsor, you must make a formal commitment to financial responsibility for the family members for three to ten years (depending on the relationship and age of the family member being sponsored). This is a binding contract. By signing the undertaking, you are agreeing to repay the Canadian government for any social assistance payments made to the sponsored family members. You will be obligated to do so even if you sponsor a spouse and the relationship breaks down.

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We have extensive experience in applications for spousal sponsorship. If you have any questions or concerns, or feel that you are unsure about certain requirements of sponsorship – such as the undertaking – you should contact a lawyer or consultant before committing to anything.

Please note that if you are found to be an ineligible sponsor of a spouse or common-law partner currently in Canada, then you will not have a right of appeal to the Immigration Appeal Division. You will thus have to file for judicial review within 30 days after the date of refusal.

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