Family Class enables Canadian citizens or permanent residents to sponsor a relative from overseas to come to Canada as a permanent resident. The principle of "sponsorship" means that a sponsor assumes financial obligations to provide for the essential needs of the relative for a certain period of time after that person's arrival in Canada.
Who can be sponsored?
There are two different categories of foreign nationals who can be sponsored:
1. Close family members:
Spouse, conjugal or common-law partner.
"Common-law" category is for partners who have been living together in a conjugal relationship for at least one year.
"Conjugal" category is for partners in exceptional circumstances beyond their control that prevent them from qualifying as common-law partners or spouses by living together. It is characterized by mutual committment, permanence of the relationship and the same level of commitment as a marriage or a common-law relationship.
It is also possible to sponsor a same-sex spouse or a common-law/ conjugal partner.
- Dependent children. A son or daughter is considered "dependent" when the child is under the age of 19 and does not have a spouse/ common-law partner; OR regardless of age, when the child is unable to be financially self-supporting due to a mental or physical condition.
You can sponsor a spouse/common-law or conjugal partner and/or dependent children if they live with you in Canada even if they do not have legal status in Canada.
Spouses, common-law or conjugal partners who are in a relationship with their sponsor for 2 years or less and have no children in common with their sponsor at the time of sponsorship application are subject to a period of conditional permanent residence. This condition requires them to cohabit in a conjugal relationship with their sponsor for a period of 2 years after the day on which they became a permanent resident.
2. Other eligible relatives:
Brothers or sisters, nephews or nieces, grandchildren who are orphaned, under 18 years of age and not married or in a common-law relationship.
Any other relative regardless of age, if the sponsor does not have any other living relatives in Canada or overseas who could be sponsored as members of the family class.
Eligibility requirements for a Sponsor:
Sponsors must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents over the age of 18 who physically reside in Canada. A Canadian citizen living outside Canada is entitled to sponsor only close family members (see above), if he or she can demonstrate an intention to return to Canada by the time the sponsored family members land in Canada. Canadian permanent residents residing abroad cannot sponsor their family members.
Sponsors have to meet certain income requirements to be able to financially support their family members after their arrival in Canada. The minimum necessary income requirements do not apply if you sponsor a spouse/common-law or conjugal partner and/or dependent children. However, sponsors must still prove their ability to financially support their relative(s).
Financial obligations begin as soon as the person being sponsored arrives in Canada. A sponsor undertakes the responsibility to provide for a spouse/common-law or conjugal partner and/or dependent children over the age of 22 for three years after their arrival in Canada. The duration of financial obligations for other sponsored relatives is 20 years.*
The processing times for Family Class applications vary. If you are sponsoring a spouse/common-law or conjugal partner and/or dependent children, you can expect your application to be finalized within two years. For other eligible relatives, the processing times take longer.
* If your dependent child is under the age of 22, your financial obligations will end ten years after that child becomes a permanent resident OR on the day that child reaches the age of 25, whichever comes first.