Canadian citizens and permanent residents can sponsor their immediate family to Canadian immigration.
As a sponsor, you must meet certain eligibility criteria. For example, you must be at least 18 years old; have Canadian citizenship, permanent residency or Indian status (under the Indian Act); prove that you are not receiving social assistance; and be able to support your family financially.
There are also a few other more specific criteria. If you are a citizen applying to sponsor your family from outside Canada, you must demonstrate that you intend to return once Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) makes a decision on your case. Permanent residents must sponsor their spouse from inside Canada. There are also a number of circumstances that could make you ineligible for sponsorship, such as not being discharged for bankruptcy.
As for who you can sponsor under this particular program, Canada recognizes three different types of partners: spouses, common-law partners and conjugal partners. You can also sponsor your dependent children.
Spouses must be married to their godfather in an in-person ceremony. Virtual weddings are not recognized for immigration purposes.
Common law spouses must prove that they have been living together for at least 12 months.
Marital partners live outside of Canada and have been in a relationship for at least one year. They must show that there are legal or social obstacles preventing them from getting married or living together. You cannot sponsor a conjugal partner who lives in Canada.
In any case, your partner must be over 18 years old. IRCC will verify that your partner is eligible by performing medical and security background checks. People with criminal convictions are often not allowed to come to Canada, but there may be options for overcome criminal inadmissibility.
The immigration officer handling your case will also want to make sure that you and your partner are in a genuine relationship. They want to admit people who come to Canada for family reunification, not people who marry for the sole purpose of immigrating to Canada.
Children are considered dependents if they are under 22 and do not have a spouse or common-law partner. If they are 22 or older, they may be considered dependents if they are unable to support themselves financially due to a mental or physical condition and are dependent on their parents for financial support since before the age of 22.
Your child may still be dependent if they turn 22 while their application is being processed. However, they must continue to meet all other requirements listed above until IRCC has completed processing the application.
You can sponsor your own child or your partner and their child. If you are a Canadian citizen, your child may already be a Canadian citizen even if they were not born in Canada. In this case, you may need to request a Proof of citizenship for your child born abroad if you have not already done so. You do not need to sponsor your own child if they are already a citizen.
If your own child is not eligible for citizenship and you want to sponsor them without sponsoring your partner, you can name your child as the principal applicant on the application. You will need to demonstrate that the other parent or legal guardian agrees to allow your child to immigrate to Canada.
For those sponsoring their spouse and dependent child, you will name your partner as the principal applicant and the child as the dependent in the application.
If a dependent child also has a dependent child (your grandchild), that child may also be included in the application.
Immigration process for spouses, common-law partners and dependent children
Two applications are required to sponsor your spouse, partner or child: your application to become a sponsor and your family’s application for permanent residence. Applications for sponsorship and permanent residence must be submitted at the same time. If you live in Quebec, there is another sponsorship process.
The first step is to obtain the application file. The government provides a application guide with specific and up-to-date information, as well as details on how to complete the forms in the complete guide. The documents required for foreign nationals will depend on residency status, where they are applying from and possibly even their travel history.
In addition to the application guides, IRCC offers a document checklist, which shows you the forms and instructions you need for your application. This list also changes, so it is important to double-check before submitting any documents. Again, different countries will have different form requirements.
Processing begins once IRCC receives your complete application. If the officer finds that your application is incomplete, they will return it to you and you will need to resubmit it.
IRCC has a 12-month processing standard for spousal sponsorship applications, although it may take longer. Requests for children vary by country.
During the processing period, IRCC requests biometric data and a medical examination from foreign applicants. You will have 30 days to send them. IRCC may also request more information or an in-person interview at any time.
You can track and update the status of your application online until IRCC makes a decision on your application. IRCC will send you instructions on the final steps the foreign spouse or common-law partner must take to become a permanent resident.
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