Spousal Sponsorship and Social Assistance

26th Jun 2010 Comments Off on Spousal Sponsorship and Social Assistance

Last updated on April 7th, 2021

Section 133 of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (the “Regulations“) prohibits a Canadian citizen or permanent resident from sponsoring a foreign family member (generally a spouse, common-law partner, parent or grandparent) if the Canadian is in receipt of social assistance for a reason other than a disability.  The Regulations define social assistance as being any benefit, whether money, goods or services, provided to or on behalf of a person by a province under a program of social assistance. It includes assistance for food, shelter, clothing, fuel, utilities, household supplies, personal requirements and health care not provided by public health care.

Pursuant to the internal Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC“) e-mails below,  it is important to note that IRCC does not consider subsidized housing to be social assistance.

Section 133(1)(k) of the Regulations explicitly provides that a person can still sponsor a foreign family member to immigrate to Canada if the sponsor receives the social assistance because of a disability.

Previous Receipt of Social Assistance

Depending on the circumstances, the previous receipt of social assistance can render a sponsor ineligible.  Section 133(1)(b) of the Regulations provides that a sponsor must intend to fulfil the obligations in the sponsorship undertaking.  In Alriyati v. Canada (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship), 2020 FC 496, Justice Pentney determined that it was reasonable for a visa officer to determine that because someone had been on social assistance for a lengthy period, and only stopped receiving social assistance shortly before submitting a spousal sponsorship application, that the person did not have an intention to fulfil the obligations in the sponsorship undertaking.  Justice Pentney noted:

There is no jurisprudence of this Court on the interpretation of intention under paragraph 133(1)(b).

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