Area of Law: Immigration Law
Answer # 669
Family Class applicationsRegion: Ontario Answer # 669
Family Class immigrants are people who are sponsored by a close relative to come to Canada. Sponsors must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents who are 18 years of age or older. They must show that they are willing and able to provide financial help and support to the immigrating relative. Applications are evaluated on the sponsor’s ability to look after the relative, and on the relative’s ability to successfully settle in Canada.
Who can be a sponsor?
As a sponsor, you must promise to support sponsored relatives financially. Therefore, you must meet certain income requirements. If you have previously sponsored relatives to come to Canada and they have later applied for financial assistance when in Canada, you may not be allowed to sponsor another person.
To be a sponsor, you must:
- sign a sponsorship agreement with the sponsored relative that 1) commits you to provide financial support for your relative, if necessary, and 2) says the person becoming a permanent resident will make every effort to support her or himself. Dependent children under 19 years of age do not have to sign this agreement;
- provide financial support for a spouse, common-law or conjugal partner for three years from the date they become a permanent resident; and
- provide financial support for dependent children for 3 to 10 years, depending on the child’s age.
In addition, you will not be eligible to be a sponsor if:
- you have been convicted of certain crimes and no pardon, or record suspension has been granted, or
- your Canadian citizenship is in the process of being revoked, or
- you were sponsored to Canada as a spouse or common-law partner less than five years ago.
If you are a Canadian citizen who lives abroad but you plan to return to Canada when your relatives immigrate, you may sponsor your spouse, common-law or conjugal partner, or your dependent children who have no dependent children. However, you must be living in Canada to sponsor any other eligible relatives such as parents and grandparents.
What does a sponsor do?
When you agree to be a sponsor, you must sign a contract called an “undertaking” with the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). This is a promise to provide financial support and basic requirements for the family members being sponsored. Basic requirements include:
- personal requirements
- household supplies
- health care not provided by public health, (such as eye and dental care)
A change in an individual’s circumstances (such as marital breakdown, separation, divorce, unemployment, change in financial circumstances or death of the principal applicant in cases in which there are accompanying family members) will not cancel the undertaking.
When the sponsored family member becomes a permanent resident in Canada, sponsors and co-signers will need to remain obligated to provide basic requirements for the full period of the undertaking.
Who can be a Family Class applicant?
Under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, a close relative can be:
1. A spouse, common-law or conjugal partner
People are considered to be spouses if their marriage is recognized as being legal in the country in which it took place and is legal according to Canadian federal law. Common-law partners include people living together in a conjugal relationship for at least one year, but who are not legally married. Conjugal relationships include couples who are not legally married and who do not live together, but where there is a significant degree of commitment between them and where their relationship is intended to be permanent. For example, conjugal partners may support each other financially and emotionally, may have children together, and may present themselves as a couple to the public. Spouses, and common-law and conjugal partners may be of the opposite-sex or same-sex.
2. Dependent children, including adopted children, must be:
- under the age of 19 and not have a spouse or common-law partner, or
- depend substantially on the financial support of a parent since before the age of 19 and be unable to provide for themselves due to a medical or physical condition.
3. Parents and grandparents
To sponsor parents and grandparents to become permanent residents of Canada, family members must submit an interest to sponsor form and be invited to submit a complete application,
You may be eligible to sponsor your own parents and grandparents if:
- you’re at least 18 years old
- you live in Canada
- you’re a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident of Canada, or a person registered in Canada as an Indian under the Canadian Indian Act
- you have enough money to support the persons you want to sponsor
- To show that you have enough, you’ll have to provide your proof of income.
Visit IRCC for more information on the program.
Super Visa for Parents and Grandparents visiting Canada
If parents are coming for a visit, they can apply for a Parent and Grandparent Super Visa by applying for a temporary resident visa. Although they may not need a visa to visit Canada, depending on their country of origin, it may still be a good idea to apply for the Super Visa because it can allow parents and grandparents to remain in Canada for up-to two years, without the need for extension applications in between.
Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)
As of March 15, 2016 Foreign nationals from visa-exempt countries entering Canada by air, including those transiting through Canada, require an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA). Exceptions include U.S. citizens and travellers with a valid visa. Entry requirements for those coming to Canada by land and sea have not changed.
An eTA is electronically linked to the traveller’s passport and is valid for five years or until the passport expires, whichever comes first. Applications for eTA’s are done online on the IRCC website, and in most cases the authorization will be issued immediately after submitting the online form.
If you need an eTA, it is recommended that you apply for it when you plan your trip, as opposed to waiting until you are ready to travel. As well, you must travel to Canada with the passport you used to get your eTA. If you require an eTA, you can only apply for one person at a time. For example, for a family of three, you must complete and submit the form three times.
4. Orphaned brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, or grandchildren, who are under 18 years of age and unmarried.
5. Another relative regardless of age, if the sponsor does not have any siblings, uncles, aunts, nieces or nephews who are a Canadian citizen, registered Indian, or permanent resident, nor any relatives in any country that could be sponsored.
Who is not considered a close relative?
- Other relatives, such as brothers and sisters over 18 years of age, or adult independent children cannot be sponsored. However, these relatives can apply to come to Canada under another approved class.
- Relationships entered into primarily for immigration purposes. Even if these relationships later become genuine, any sponsored application for permanent residence can still be refused. The government introduced regulation that, in certain circumstances, requires sponsored partners or spouses to live in a legitimate relationship with their sponsor for two years from the day they receive permanent residence status in Canada, or they risk losing their status. This was introduced to deal with ‘bad faith relationships’ also commonly referred to as ‘relationships of convenience’. This “conditional permanent residence measure” applies to spouses and partners in a relationship of two years or less and who have no children in common with their sponsor at the time they submit their sponsorship application, and their application was submitted on or after October 25, 2012.
- Fiancées and intended common-law partners are not considered close relatives and cannot be sponsored under the Family Class. In such circumstances, the sponsor will have to make a sponsorship application under humanitarian and compassionate grounds, or if the fiancée qualifies, he or she can make an application under the Canadian Experience Class.
What must the sponsored relative do?
Family Class applicants and their dependents must also meet certain requirements. They must undergo a security check and a medical exam by a designated physician. They may also be interviewed by an Immigration Officer. Applicants must prove that they are related to their sponsor. Documents such as birth or marriage certificates, voter registration or military records, and family or personal records or photographs can be used to establish this relationship.
Once eligibility under the Family Class has been determined, two steps must be followed: 1) An application for sponsorship must be made and 2) the sponsored family member must apply for permanent residence. The applications for both should be filled out and sent at the same time.
Temporary changes due to COVID-19
Due to the current pandemic, the Government of Canada has implemented temporary changes to various immigration programs and procedures. For the most up-to-date information, visit canada.ca.
For more detailed information about who qualifies under the Family Class, or to obtain forms, visit Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. To find foreign consulates and embassies in your province, click here.
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