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Family Sponsorship 

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COVID-19 UPDATE: The Government of Canada  has implemented travel restrictions which prohibit some persons from entering Canada, and may require additional documents for those who are exempted from same. As such, please click here to see if you are eligible for travel to Canada. 

A Canadian citizen, registered Indian, or a permanent resident of Canada may be able to sponsor their spouse, common-law partner, dependent children, parents, grandparents, and other relatives pursuant to s.13 of the Immigration and Refugee protection Act (IRPA).  The sponsor must be at least 18 years of age, residing in Canada, not receiving social assistance for reasons other than disability, and be able to provide the basic needs. A financial requirement is not applicable, unless a spouse or partner being sponsored has a dependent child who has dependent child of their own, or a dependent child being sponsored who has a dependent child of their own. Furthermore, some reasons a person may be ineligible to sponsor include instances where:

  • They have signed an undertaking for a previous spouse or partner and three years have not elapsed;

  • Failed to repay social assistance received by a person previously sponsored while the undertaking was still in effect;

  • They are in default of an immigration loan or a performance bond;

  • They have failed to pay court-ordered alimony or child support;

  • They have declared bankruptcy which has not been discharged;

  • They were previously convicted an offence of a sexual nature, a violent crime, offence or threats against a relative which caused bodily harm;

  • They were sponsored as a spouse, common-law or conjugal partner and became a permanent resident within the last 5 years;

  • They are under a removal order;

  • They are in a penitentiary, jail, reformatory or prison.


Where a conjugal partner or a dependent child is being sponsored, the application must be submitted to a visa office outside Canada. On the other hand, an application to sponsor a spouse or common-law partner can be made from within Canada. In this case, the spouse or common-law partner may be eligible for an open work permit if they reside with the sponsor and have valid temporary resident status, which will allow them to work while awaiting a decision.

The Immigration and Refugee Protection Rules, specifically s.124, notes that a spouse or common-law partner, must have temporary resident status if an application is being submitted from within Canada. Nevertheless, spouses and common-law partners who do not meet this requirement, and provided they reside with their partners, are exempt from having temporary resident status by virtue of a public policy and therefore benefits from a temporary stay of removal. 

In assessing the application, IRCC must determine whether the marriage or relationship is genuine or was entered into primarily for the purpose of acquiring any status or privilege under the IRPA. An interview may be convoked where it is essential for a thorough assessment of the application, for instance, where the officer has concerns about the relationship, identity concerns, or any questions regarding the genuineness of documents provided.


If the application is approved, the sponsored person will be issued a permanent resident visa, if applicable, as well as a confirmation of permanent residence (COPR) document which must be shown to the officer at the port of entry. If already in Canada, a letter will be issued with instructions on how to finalize the process. If, however, an application is refused, the sponsor may be able to appeal the decision to the Immigration and Refugee Board or apply to the Federal Court for Judicial Review.

Parents and Grandparents

IRCC has now employed a randomized selection intake process to manage the intake of applications for the Parents and Grandparents Program (PGP Program) in 2020 and 2021. To initiate the process, the sponsor is required to submit an Interest to Sponsor form – once it becomes available on the official website, as well as and their status in Canada document, both of which are required for the randomized selection. If the Interest to Sponsor form is successfully submitted, a confirmation will be received. If selected, the potential sponsor will then receive an invitation to submit a sponsorship and permanent resident package within 60 calendar days. It is important to prevent any delays as applications are processed on a first-in first-out basis. 

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