Immigration: Family and Spousal Sponsorship


An eligible sponsor is someone who is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, is at least 18 years of age, resides in Canada or intends to reside in Canada, and has sufficient income to support the people being sponsored once they arrive in Canada. An exception to the income requirement applies those who wish to sponsor a spouse or common law partner. For those sponsors, there is no income requirement. However, such a sponsor must not owe support arrears to a former spouse and must not currently be involved in a bankruptcy proceeding. A sponsor must enter into a written agreement with the Canadian government to support the people they are sponsoring for a period of three years for spouses, common-law partners, or conjugal partners, and for a longer period of time for other types of relatives.


    • Spouse : A spouse is a husband or wife. To be considered the sponsor’s spouse, the sponsor and the applicant must be legally married. If the marriage did not occur in Canada, provided that the marriage is legal in the country where it occurred, then it will be accepted by the Canadian immigration authorities (assuming immigration authorities regard the marriage as genuine). Spousal sponsorship can do done through an in-Canada application process or through an out-of-Canada process.

    • Common-law Partner : A common-law partner is a person with whom the sponsor has lived together for at least one year in a conjugal relationship. A conjugal relationship is a marriage-like relationship. Common-law partner sponsorship can do done through an in-Canada application process or through an out-of-Canada process.

    • Conjugal Partner : A conjugal partner is a person who has been in a marriage-like relationship with the sponsor for at least one year although they have not lived together because of extenuating circumstances. Typically, those extenuating circumstances are legal in nature. In other words, if cohabitation is merely inconvenient for the couple, they will not qualify as conjugal partners for immigration purposes.

    • Children : A sponsor’s dependent children include children who are under the age of 19. This age restriction is likely to be changed to 22 in the near future.

    • Parents and Grandparents: A parent is a mother or father of the sponsor. A grandparent is the mother or father of the mother or father of the sponsor. It should be noted that when parents and grandparents are sponsored they may also bring their dependent children with them, which will be the sponsor’s brothers and sisters, half siblings, or step siblings. In this way a sponsor can bring his or her siblings, who are under the age of 19. When a person wishes to sponsor a parent or grandparent, he or she must also sponsor the spouse or common law partner of the parent or grandparent.

    • Orphans : An orphan is someone whose parents are both deceased. An orphaned sibling (brother or sister), nephew or niece, or grandchild may be sponsored if he or she is under the age of 18 and unmarried.

    • Adopted Children : In some cases, adopted children who are minors can be sponsored. However, the sponsorship of adopted children has a number of restrictions. Adoptions that are done primarily for the purposes of immigration will not be recognized by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (formerly Citizenship and Immigration Canada).

    • Other Relative : Where a sponsor does not have any spouse, common-law partner, conjugal partner, child, parent, grandparent, sibling, uncle, aunt, nephew, or niece living in Canada, and no relative living abroad who may be sponsored under the regular categories, then they may sponsor another relative. It should be noted that this category is only very rarely applicable