Canada Family Class Sponsorship programs (CFCS): Updated April 18, 2022. CFCS provides some of the most generous family reunification programs among countries with comparable immigration policies.
Canada Family Class Sponsorship programs help Canadian government’s commitment to keeping families together whenever possible. In its 2022-2024 Immigration Levels Plan Canada emphasized again that the reunification of families is a top priority.
Many Canadian citizens and permanent residents have loved ones abroad that they wish they could bring to Canada. Canada Family Class Sponsorship programs enable them to sponsor certain relatives to come to Canada.
There are a number of relationships that qualify for Canada Family Class Sponsorship. These include spouses and common-law partners, parents and grandparents, and dependent children. For parents and grandparents, there is also the Super Visa program.
How to Sponsor your spouse or partner
There are many options for a Canadian permanent resident or citizen to bring a spouse or partner to Canada. Whichever option you take, it is important to satisfy the following eligibility requirements.
Requirements for the Sponsor:
To be eligible to sponsor, you
- must be at least 18 years of age;
- must be a Canadian permanent resident living in Canada or a Canadian citizen;
- cannot be in prison, bankrupt, under a removal order (if a permanent resident) or charged with a serious offence; and also
- cannot have been sponsored to Canada as a spouse within the last 5 years.
- how to prepare and submit your application, and also
- what to expect after you submit your application
Requirements for the Sponsored Person:
- The sponsored person must be at least 16 years of age and
- The sponsored person must not be too closely related by blood to the sponsor.
Proving the nature of the relationship
The relationship between the sponsor and sponsored person must qualify under one of three categories:
- Spouse: This means that the sponsor and sponsored person are legally married. For those married within Canada, a provincial or territorial certificate of marriage is sufficient proof. Note that same-sex marriages performed within Canada are valid for spousal sponsorship. A marriage from outside of Canada must be valid under the law of the country where it took place. It must also be valid under Canadian federal law. Same-sex marriages that took place outside of Canada are not valid for spousal sponsorship. However, you can apply under either the common-law partner or conjugal partner categories if such a relationship can be proven.
- Common-law partner: The sponsor and sponsored person must cohabit continuously for at least one year. The timeline excludes brief absences for business or family reasons.
- Conjugal partner: Conjugal partners can be of either opposite-sex or same-sex. A sponsored person is defined as a conjugal partner if:
- Exceptional circumstances beyond their control have prevented the applicants from qualifying as common-law partners or spouses. For example, immigration barriers or legal restrictions limiting divorce or same-sex relationships; and
- The applicants have had a mutually dependent relationship for at least one year. The relationship must be with the same level of commitment as a marriage or a common-law union. This can require:
- a demonstration of emotional ties and intimacy
- financial closeness, such as joint ownership of assets or mutual financial support, and
- efforts to spend time together and reunite.
Ineligibility for Spousal Sponsorship
An individual cannot apply to become a sponsor if he or she:
- did not pay an immigration loan, a performance bond and/or family support payments;
- failed to support a previously-sponsored relative, resulting in the sponsored individual seeking social assistance;
- is under a removal order;
- is in a penitentiary, jail, reformatory or prison;
- receives social assistance for reasons other than a disability;
- filed for bankruptcy and have not received an ‘order of discharge’ by the court;
- were sponsored and held permanent resident status for less than five years;
- sponsored another spouse/partner previously and three years have not passed since the sponsored spouse/partner became a Canadian permanent resident;
- have already submitted an application to sponsor his or her current spouse/partner/child and a decision was not yet made;
- were convicted of a violent or sexual offence or an offence involving bodily harm to a relative.
Working in Canada while processing sponsorship application
If you’re sponsoring your spouse or partner they may be eligible for an open work permit. Find out how to apply.
Sponsoring Parents and Grandparents
You can bring a parent or grandparent to Canada through Canada’s parents and grandparents sponsorship program. The program has a yearly cap on the number of applications that are accepted. However, if you missed the cap there is still the Super Visa Program. This provides parents and grandparents extended multi-entry visas that could last up to a total of 10 years.
It is important that the parent or grandparent meets the eligibility requirements. To learn more about these requirements see Canada Parents and Grandparents Sponsorship Program. Se also What is Canada Super Visa and Requirements?.
After submitting the interest to sponsor form you receive invitation two apply from IRCC. There are 2 applications that you must submit:
- the sponsorship application and
- the permanent residence application
If IRCC approves both applications, you’ll sign an agreement called an undertaking. The agreement starts on the day the person you’re sponsoring (and their family members, if this applies) becomes a permanent resident of Canada. This agreement is discussed under IRCC’s Who is eligible to sponsor a parent or grandparent.
Sponsoring a dependent child
Canadian citizens and permanent residents who have dependent children abroad can bring them to Canada dependent child sponsorship program. There are several eligibility requirements for both the sponsoring parent and the dependent child.
Requirements for the Sponsor:
- must be 18 years of age and be a Canadian PR living in Canada or a Canadian citizen; and
- cannot be in prison, bankrupt, under a removal order (if a permanent resident) or charged with a serious offence.
Requirements for the Sponsored Dependent Child:
- The sponsored child must be in one of the following situations of dependency:
- Less than 22 years of age and not a spouse or common-law partner; or
- Less than 22 years but dependent substantially on financial support of the parent before age of 22. The child also must be unable to be financially self-supporting due to a physical or mental condition.
Requirements for nature of the relationship:
- The sponsored child must be either:
- The biological child of the sponsor if not adopted by a person other than the spouse or common-law partner; or
- The adopted child of the sponsor.
For more government information see IRCC’s Sponsoring a dependent child.
Sponsoring other relatives or friends
A province in Canada may offer Canadian immigration options for relatives or even friends. In such cases, you can sponsor:
- your brother, sister, nephew, niece, grandson or granddaughter, who are orphaned. They must be under the age of 18, and not married or in a common-law relationship
- any other relative, such as uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, if you do not have a spouse or partner.
- you do not have any of the relatives mentioned above who:
- is a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, Indian (Native, registered under the Indian Act)
- have an application for permanent residence that is being currently processed
Sponsor must be:
- At least 18 years of age
- A Canadian permanent resident living in Canada or a Canadian citizen
- Not in prison, bankrupt, under a removal order (if a permanent resident) or charged with a serious offence
For more details visit IRCC’s Canada Family Class Sponsorship page.