How do I sponsor a spouse, common-law or conjugal partner, or dependent child living outside of Canada?
As of March 2, 2012, if you entered Canada as a sponsored spouse or partner you are not eligible to sponsor a new spouse or partner for a period of 5 years. This 5 year period starts from the day that you are granted permanent residence in Canada. This change applies to permanent residents and Canadian citizens. Find out more information about this change on the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) website (1).
As of October 25, 2012, if you applied to come to Canada as a sponsored spouse or partner, you may be subject to a 2-year conditional permanent resident status; there are some exceptions to this new condition. Find out more information about the conditional permanent residence (2) from Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) website.
Who can sponsor?
You may be eligible to sponsor a spouse or a common-law or conjugal partner or dependent children living outside of Canada if:
- The person you want to sponsor is a member of the family class. If he or she is not, you will not be able to sponsor that person.
- You are 18 years of age or older
- You are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident
- You live in Canada.
If you are a Canadian citizen not living in Canada you may sponsor your spouse, common-law or conjugal partner and/or dependent children who have no dependent children of their own.
You must satisfy immigration officials that you will live in Canada at the time your sponsored spouse, common-law or conjugal partner and/or children become permanent residents of Canada. If you are travelling outside of Canada as a tourist, you are not considered to be living outside Canada.
Evidence that you will live in Canada may include 1 or more of the following:
- Letter from an employer
- Letter of acceptance to a Canadian educational institution (for example, college or university)
- Proof you are renting or own a home in Canada
- Reasonable plans for re-establishing in Canada or breaking ties to the other country
You do not need to demonstrate a minimum income if you are sponsoring:
- Your spouse, common-law or conjugal partner who has no dependent children, or
- Your spouse, common-law or conjugal partner whose dependent children have no children of their own, or
- Your dependent child who has no children of his or her own.
In other cases, for example, if you are sponsoring other family members, you will have to prove you have an income that is at least equal to the minimum necessary income.
What is an undertaking?
When sponsoring your spouse or common-law partner, you must sign an agreement called, "Undertaking to Assist a Member of the Family Class," with the Government of Canada. This agreement makes sure that the sponsored family members do not become dependent on financial help from the government.
When you sign the undertaking, you agree to provide financial support for family members you are sponsoring.
If you are sponsoring:
- Your spouse, common-law or conjugal partner: you must provide financial support for 3 years. The 3 years start on the date that person becomes a permanent resident.
- Your child or your spouse's or your common-law or conjugal partner's dependent child who is less than 22 years old: you must provide financial support for 10 years or until the child turns 25 years old, whichever comes first.
- Your child or your spouse's or your common-law or conjugal partner's dependent child who is 22 years old or older: you must provide financial support for 3 years. The 3 years start from the date that person becomes a permanent resident.
For more information, visit the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) (3) website or call the CIC Call Centre:
What is a common law or conjugal partner?
You can sponsor a person as your common-law partner if:
- That person is of the opposite or same sex;
- You and that other person have cohabited in a conjugal relationship for a period of at least one year;
- Your relationship with that person is continuing, even though you are temporarily living apart.
This category is for partners—either of the opposite sex or same sex—in exceptional circumstances beyond their control that prevent them from qualifying as common-law partners or spouses by living together.
You may apply as a conjugal partner if you have maintained a conjugal relationship with your sponsor for at least one year and you have been prevented from living together or marrying because of:
- an immigration barrier (for example, rules preventing a partner and sponsor of long stays in one another's countries)
- your marital status (for example, you are married to someone else and living in a country where divorce is not possible) or
- your sexual orientation (for example, you are in a same-sex relationship and same-sex marriage is not permitted where you live)
- you can provide evidence there was a reason you could not live together (for example, you were refused long-term stays in each other's country).
There is no category for fiancé (e)s in Canada's immigration system.
Visit the CIC website for more information or call the CIC:
Who is a dependent child?
Dependent children may be your own children or those of the person you are sponsoring. According to CIC, they must:
- Be under the age of 22 and not a spouse or common-law partner; or
- Have depended substantially on the financial support of a parent and have been continuously enrolled and in attendance as full-time students in a post secondary institution accredited by the relevant government authority since before the age of 22 (or since becoming a spouse or a common-law partner, if they married or entered into a common-law relationship before the age of 22). In this case, they must have started their studies before turning 22 and must currently be studying, and must also be financially dependent on the parents. There can be no gaps in studies during this time (for example, if they worked for a year); or
- Have depended substantially on the financial support of parents since before the age of 22 and unable to provide for themselves due to a medical condition.
Children must meet the definition of "dependent children" on the day CIC receives the completed application and on the day a visa is issued to them.
Many settlement agencies can help you with your sponsorship application. To find help in your area, call 2-1-1 to speak with a Community Information Centre (4) representative.
For more information:
(1) Citizenship and Immigration Canada:
(2) Conditional Permanent Residence - Citizenship and Immigration Canada:
(3) Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC):
(4) Community Information Centres:
(5) Sponsorship Application kit:
(6) CIC Help Centre - A tool that helps answer frequently asked questions on immigration matters.