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Relocating to a distant country and leaving behind cherished family members can pose significant emotional challenges. A fundamental aim of the Government of Canada is to facilitate the reunion of families. Individuals belonging to specific family categories may be eligible to settle in Canada permanently as part of the family class category. Once granted permanent residency, they gain the freedom to live, study, and work in Canada without the need for a visitor visa or a letter of invitation.

Similar to other immigration paths, family class sponsorship involves specific criteria, including a minimum required income that sponsors must meet. For those contemplating how to sponsor someone to Canada, an initial step involves reviewing the guidelines for family sponsorship applications, as well as understanding the eligibility criteria and mandatory conditions.

If you are 18 years or older and a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident, you may qualify to sponsor a child, spouse, or common-law partner residing either within or outside Canada. When sponsoring a family member, be it a dependent child or a spouse/common-law partner, a financial support commitment is expected. Hence, fulfilling specific income requirements through employment in Canada becomes imperative.

Sponsoring a family member to relocate to Canada entails a substantial commitment, as it entails signing an undertaking agreement. It’s important to note that family sponsorship in Canada does not qualify for a tax receipt. Below, you will find further insights on the process of sponsoring a relative to Canada, details regarding the income prerequisites for family sponsorship, and guidelines for sponsoring a child born outside of Canada, including considerations related to surrogacy and immigration.



For immigration purposes the age limit of dependent children has changed from “under 19” to “under 22.” This change will apply to all new applications received on or after October 24, 2017. In order to qualify as a dependant, your child must be within the age limit, as well as meet the requirements of a dependent child. Children qualify as dependants if they meet both of these requirements: they’re under 22 years old, and they don’t have a spouse or partner. Children 22 years old or older qualify as dependants if they meet both of these requirements: they have depended on their parents for financial support since before the age of 22, and they are unable to financially support themselves because of a mental or physical condition.


Currently there is no direct sponsorship program for brothers and sisters of Canadian citizens or permanent residents. However, their siblings can apply for permanent residency as economic class immigrants and receive fifteen additional points under Express Entry. There are two other ways for brothers and sisters to apply for immigration under the family class. The first option would include dependent children under parents’ sponsorship. In this case the parent(s) may include their child as a dependent. To qualify as a dependent, sponsored child must meet certain requirements. In some exceptional circumstances brothers and sisters may be sponsored under orphaned close relative program.



For international adoptions, you must complete the adoption process and the citizenship or immigration process, before you may bring your child to live with you in Canada. In order to sponsor your adopted child to Canada, it is necessary to apply for Citizenship or Immigration (Permanent Residency). Adopted child receives a direct grant of citizenship through the citizenship process. While, adopted child will receive status of permanent resident through the immigration process. If parents engage in the surrogacy process outside of Canada, newborn is legally the child of the sponsor or their spouse/partner in that jurisdiction, there are different avenues on bringing the child back to Canada.



Currently there is no direct sponsorship program for friend of Canadian citizen or permanent resident. However, friends of permanent residents or Canadian citizens may apply for visitor visa, if they are from non-visa-exempt country. Visa office will ask to submit a letter of invitation from friend living in Canada. The applicant must then send this letter to the Canadian embassy or consulate outside of Canada when he or she applies for a temporary resident visa. A letter of invitation does not guarantee that officer will issue a visitor visa, as there is several   criteria used to assess the applicant. Countries whose citizens require a visitor visa to enter Canada can be found on Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s website.


In certain circumstances you may qualify to sponsor your relative under “last remaining relative” exception program. This program allows a permanent resident or citizen of Canada to sponsor any relative (related by blood or adoption) regardless of age, if sponsor doesn’t have any of the below-mentioned relatives in Canada, who are either permanent residents or citizens: spouse/common-law partner, child, parent(s)/grandparent(s), sibling, niece/nephew, aunt/uncle. In addition, sponsor should not have any members of family class (who could be sponsored) outside of Canada. If you sponsor a relative to come to Canada as a permanent resident, you must support your relative financially.



Through the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program, you may be able to help sponsor refugees from abroad who qualify to come to Canada. Your role as a sponsor will be to support the refugees for the length of the sponsorship. This includes help for housing, clothing and food, as well as social and emotional support. There are also many organizations that signed sponsorship agreements with the Government of Canada to help support refugees from abroad when they resettle in Canada. These organizations are called Sponsorship Agreement Holders. They can sponsor refugees themselves or work with others in the community to sponsor refugees. Note, that Quebec has its own process to sponsor refugees.


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