Unlike a few westernized nations, the Canadian immigration system fully supports family unification. The shortcomings from the events following the Second World War triggered Canada’s generosity towards welcoming foreign individuals to unify families thereby strengthening its economy through diversification. As the second-largest category of immigrants trooping into Canada, the family class is widely explored by hundreds of thousands of foreign nationals under the Immigration Levels Plan.
With the country steadily recovering from the global coronavirus pandemic wave, Canada gradually opens its borders to immigrants across boards. Recently, an estimate of over 100,000 new immigrants of the 400,000 immigrants coming into Canada annually fall under the family class category. That’s more than a fourth of the new immigrants crossing Canadian borders yearly under the sponsorship of their immediate family members already residing in Canada.
The Department of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) oversees the Canadian immigration system. Formerly known as Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), the IRCC continuously helps thousands of Canadian residents reconnect with their loved ones through Canada’s Family Sponsorship Program. The immigration department makes this possible by drafting the program’s criteria, conducting screenings of family sponsorship applicants, and issuing residential visas.
Persons in the country can act as sponsors in bringing a family member into Canada as long as they meet the following requirements:
As the applications of immigrants got a little twisted over the years, the IRCC introduced a few exceptions to this criteria. Today, sponsors with non-immediate family members like an uncle, cousin, nephew, or niece, etc. can invite them over to Canada provided they:
All sponsors and sponsored family members must provide the necessary information and sign the Sponsorship Agreement to initiate the Family Sponsorship Program. Signing the agreements notifies the Government of Canada that sponsors understand the terms surrounding supporting their families financially. Every sponsor is expected to be single-handedly responsible for catering for their family’s clothing, feeding, medical needs, and shelter.
For specific sponsorship programs, the IRCC requires that candidates meet the following Low Income Cut-off (LICO) criteria:
Canada’s Family Sponsorship Program involves the signing of a legal “undertaking” agreement that makes the respected sponsor solely responsible for the sponsored individual while in Canada. If at any point in time, the family member to be sponsored requires social assistance from the Government of Canada, applicants should prepare to repay this levy.
The terms of the undertaking remain active in as much the sponsored family member stays in the country. Even after the residential or citizenship status of the individual changes, the terms of the undertaking still stand making applicants solely responsible for their sponsored family members. If for some reason the applicant divorces their common-law partner, the undertaking terms still stand also.
To make this a fair contract on immigrants, the IRCC recently adjusted the conditions of the undertaking making it time-dependent. The length of the undertaking for various sponsored family members goes as follows:
Permanent residents or Canadian Citizens can sponsor:
Applicants can only ascertain eligibility for the common-law partner or spousal sponsorship if they:
The inland option of the Canadian Family Sponsorship Program allows applicants to sponsor family members, spouses, or common-law partners currently residing in Canada. With this sponsorship option, applicants can still reside in Canada while their requests to apply for permanent residency are under review. It is allowed for common-law partners or spouses to presently be in Canada through their Temporary Resident Visa (TRV).
This option features the application for immigration sponsorship involving family members living abroad. The application is usually processed through the home country’s Consulate or Embassy. Outland-sponsored family members may have to patiently wait for the approval of their permanent resident visas before moving into Canada. Since they stay abroad, the program allows conjugal visits to their proposed sponsors here in Canada.
Applicants interested in sponsoring their parents or grandparents can either apply for the Parent & Grandparent Sponsorship Program (PGP) or the Super Visa Program. These Family Sponsorship Immigration Programs enable permanent residents in Canada as well as Canadian citizens to unify themselves with their parents and grandparents.
Citizens and permanent residents can only be eligible for the PGP when they:
To enable flexibility, the program welcomes co-signage of the undertaking with the sponsored family members. However, for this to remain valid and acceptable, co-signers must meet the following requirements to guarantee the processing of their permanent resident visa: