Guide 3900 – Before You Apply

Before You Apply

Sponsorship under the family class

The Canadian government allows citizens and permanent residents of Canada to sponsor members of the family class, but it requires that arriving immigrants receive care and support from their sponsors.

Members of the family class include a sponsor’s spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner; a dependent child of the sponsor; the sponsor’s mother or father; a person the sponsor intends to adopt; and other relatives of the sponsor as defined by regulation.


Information on Conditional Permanent Residence

As of October 25, 2012, CIC introduced amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations. The amendments specify that spouses, common-law or conjugal partners who are in a relationship with their sponsor for two years or less and have no children in common with their sponsor at the time of the sponsorship application are subject to a period of conditional permanent residence. The condition requires the sponsored spouse or partner to cohabit in a conjugal relationship with their sponsor for a period of two years after the day on which they became a permanent resident. The conditional measure only applies to permanent residents whose applications are received on October 25, 2012, or after the day that the amendments come into force.

Examples

Condition applies if the couple:

  • is married for two years or less; or
  • dated for four years, but is married for two years or less; or
  • have been in a conjugal relationship for two years or less; or
  • has cohabited in a common-law relationship for two years or less; and
  • Do not have any children in common

Condition does not apply if the couple:

  • is married for more than two years; or
  • have been in a conjugal relationship for more than two years; or
  • has cohabited in a common-law relationship for more than two years; or
  • Have children in common.

For more information, consult Information for Sponsored Spouses or Partners.


Who may use this application?

This application guide is designed for Canadian citizens and permanent residents of Canada who are 18 years of age or older and wish to sponsor members of the family class.


What does it mean ‘‘to sponsor’’?

When you agree to be a sponsor, you must sign a contract called an undertaking with the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration (or with the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Diversité et de l’Inclusion[MIDI] if you live in Québec).

The undertaking is a promise to provide financial support for your spouse or common-law partner’s basic requirements and those of his or her dependent children.

Basic requirements are:

  • food
  • clothing
  • utilities
  • personal requirements
  • shelter
  • fuel
  • household supplies

This also includes other health care not provided by public health, such as eye and dental care.

The undertaking ensures that these persons and their family members do not have to apply for social assistance. Its length varies according to their age and their relationship to you.

Your obligations as a sponsor begin as soon as the person you are sponsoring and, if applicable, his or her family members arrive in Canada.

Important information: The undertaking is an unconditional promise of support. For example, the granting of Canadian citizenship, divorce, separation or relationship breakdown or moving to another province does not cancel the undertaking. The undertaking also remains in effect even if your financial situation deteriorates.


Who can I sponsor using this application?

You can use this application package to sponsor a spouse, common-law or conjugal partner and dependent children who live outside Canada and meet the requirements defined for members of the family class.

If you are married

You can sponsor the person as your spouse if your marriage is a legally valid civil marriage. If your spouse is of the:

  • opposite sex and your marriage took place outside Canada, the marriage must be valid both under the laws of the jurisdiction where it took place and under Canadian law;
  • same sex, the marriage will be recognized for immigration purposes, where the marriage:
    • was legally performed in Canada, or
    • if performed outside of Canada, the marriage must be legally recognized according to both the law of the place where the marriage occurred and under Canadian law.

If you are in a common-law relationship

You can sponsor the person as your common-law partner

  • regardless of his or her sex, and
  • you are cohabiting in a conjugal relationship and have done so for at least one year.

If you are in conjugal relationship

You can sponsor a conjugal partner if:

  • there is a significant degree of attachment between the two of you, implying not just a physical relationship but a mutually interdependent relationship, and
  • you have been in a genuine relationship for at least 12 months where marriage or cohabitation has not been possible due to barriers such as sexual orientation, religious faith, etc.

See Conjugal partner definition.

If you are a parent or the person you are sponsoring is a parent

See Family members below.

Note: The minimum age accepted for a  spouse, common-law or conjugal partner is 16 years old.


Family members

Your family members include your spouse or common-law partner, your dependent children and any children that are their dependent children.

Spouse
Refers to either of the two persons (opposite or same sex) in a marriage legally recognized in the country in which it took place, as well as in Canada.
Common-law partner
Refers to a person who is living in a conjugal relationship with another person (opposite or same sex), and has done so continuously for a period of at least one year. A conjugal relationship exists when there is a significant degree of commitment between two people.This can be shown with evidence that the couple share the same home, support each other financially and emotionally, have children together, or present themselves in public as a couple.Common-law partners who have been in a conjugal relationship for at least one year but are unable to live together or appear in public together because of legal restrictions in their home country or who have been separated for reasons beyond their control (for example, civil war or armed conflict) may still qualify and should be included on the application.
Dependent children
Refers to the children of the applicant and those of the spouse or common-law partner, if applicable.They must be:

  • under the age of 19 and not have a spouse or common-law partner,or
  • 19 years of age or older and unable to be financially self-sufficient since before the age of 19 due to a physical or mental condition.
Dependent child of a dependent child
Refers to children of dependent children of the applicant and those of the spouse or common-law partner, if applicable.

Conjugal partner

A conjugal partner is a foreign national residing outside Canada who is in a conjugal relationship with a sponsor for at least one year, but could not live with the sponsor as a couple. This term applies to both heterosexual and homosexual couples. This category was established for partners of sponsors who normally would present an application as spouse or common-law partner but cannot due to circumstances beyond their control (e. g., immigration barrier, religious reasons or sexual orientation). Thus, they could not live together for a period of at least one year.

In most cases, the foreign partner is also not able to legally marry their sponsor and qualify as a spouse. In all other respects, the couple is similar to a common-law couple or a married couple, meaning they have been in a bona fide (genuine) conjugal relationship for a period of at least one year.

However, a significant degree of attachment and mutually interdependence between both partners  must be demonstrated. They must also provide proof of the obstacles or restrictions that prevent cohabitation or marriage.


Definitions of Dependent children (Types 1 and 2)

Your child or the child of your spouse or common-law partner can be considered a dependent child if that child meets the requirements of type 1 or 2 below:

TYPE 1
The child is under the age of 19 and is single (not married and not in a common-law relationship).
TYPE 2
The child is 19 years of age or older and has been financially dependent on a parent since before the age of 19 due to a physical or mental condition.

Note: The above requirements must be met on the day the Case Processing Centre receives a complete application. Whether or not they have attained the age of 19, children falling under type 1 must not be married or be involved in a common-law relationship at the time of visa issuance and when they enter Canada.

If I live outside Canada, may I sponsor?

If you are a Canadian citizen, you may sponsor a spouse, a common-law partner or conjugal partner, or a dependent child who has no children of his or her own. However, you must demonstrate that you will live in Canada when the sponsored person becomes a permanent resident.

Note: Permanent residents residing abroad may not sponsor from outside of Canada. Canadian citizens travelling as tourists are not considered to be residing abroad.


Sponsorship eligibility

In order to sponsor, you must…

  • be 18 years of age or older,
  • be a Canadian citizen, Registered Indian or permanent resident,
  • be sponsoring a member of the family Class,
  • live in Canada or provide evidence, if you are a Canadian citizen living outside of Canada, that you will live in Canada once the person you are sponsoring becomes a permanent resident.
  • sign an agreement with your spouse or common-law partner confirming that each of you understands your obligations and responsibilities,
  • sign an undertaking promising to provide for your spouse or common-law partner’s basic requirements and, if applicable, those of his or her dependent children,
  • prove that you have sufficient income to provide basic requirements for your spouse or common-law partner’s dependent children. To do this, you must provide documents showing your financial resources for the past 12 months. This requirement applies only when dependent children who have dependent children of their own are included on the application.

You may NOT sponsor if you…

  • signed an undertaking for a previous spouse or common-law partner and three years have not elapsed since he or she became a permanent resident and,
  • receive social assistance for a reason other than disability,
  • are in default of an undertaking, an immigration loan, a performance bond, or family support payments, For more information. See Defaults below.
  • are an undischarged bankrupt,
  • were convicted of an offence of a sexual nature, a violent criminal offence, an offence against a relative that results in bodily harm or an attempt or threat to commit any such offences—depending on circumstances such as the nature of the offence, how long ago it occurred and whether a pardon was issued
    For more information. See Sponsorship Bar for Violent Crime
  • were previously sponsored as a spouse , common-law or conjugal partner and became a permanent resident of Canada less than 5 years ago,
    For more information. See Five-year Sponsorship Bar
  • are under a removal order,
  • are detained in a penitentiary, jail, reformatory or prison,
  • have already applied to sponsor your current spouse or common-law partner and a decision on your application has not yet been made.

Defaults

You are not eligible to sponsor if you are in default of a previous undertaking. If you are in default and you submit an application to sponsor, it will be refused and the sponsorship fees that you have paidwill not be refunded or applied to subsequent sponsorship applications.

If you are in default of a previous sponsorship undertaking

Relatives you sponsored in the past received social assistance or welfare while the undertaking was valid.

You may not sponsor until you repay the full amount of any social assistance or welfare payment or repay the debt to the satisfaction of the government authority that issued the benefit or ordered you to pay.

If you are in default of an immigration loan

You received a transportation, assistance or Right of Permanent Residence Fee (previously called the Right of Landing Fee) loan and have missed payments or are in arrears.

You may not sponsor until you pay all arrears on your loan. For more information, contact Collection Services at 1‑800‑667‑7301 (in Canada and the United States only).

If you are in default of support payment obligations

You were ordered by a court to make support payments to a spouse or child and have neglected to do so.

You may not sponsor until you resolve the family support matter.

If you are in default of a performance bond

You agreed to pay money to guarantee that an immigrant would fulfil his or her obligations under immigration legislation.

You may not sponsor until you pay the full amount of the bond.


Provincial Authorities Contact Information

If the person you sponsor or a member of his family receives financial support under a federal, provincial or municipal assistance program during the validity of the agreement, you will be deemed in default of your obligations.

If you need information about how to repay the money owed, contact the corresponding provincial office listed below. The services offered by these offices are available during local business hours only.

  • British Columbia
    Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation
    Sponsorship Default Coordinator
    P.O. Box 9950 STN PROV GOVT
    Victoria, BC V8W 9R3
    1 (866) 866-0800
  • Quebec
    Centre de service du recouvrement
    1415 Jarry St. East, Suite 400
    Montreal, QC H2E 3B4
    Telephone: 1 (514) 873-4362
    Fax: 1 (514) 352-2395
  • Alberta
    Alberta Human Services
    Income Support Contact Centre
    Telephone: 1 (866) 644-5135
    Edmonton: 1 (780) 644-5135
  • Newfoundland and Labrador
    Department of Social Services
    P.O. Box 8700
    St. John’s, NL A1B 4J6
    Telephone: 1 (709) 729-0583
  • Saskatchewan
    Department of Community Resources and
    Employment
    Saskatchewan Social Services
    1920 Broad Street, 11th Floor
    Regina, SK S4P 3V6
    Telephone: 1 (306) 787-1388
  • New Brunswick
    Department of Social Development
    P.O. Box 6000
    Fredericton, NB E3B 5H1
    Telephone: 1 (506) 453-2001
  • Manitoba
    Family Services
    203 South Railway Street East
    Killarney, MB R0K 1G0
    Telephone: 1 (877) 812-0014
  • Nova Scotia
    Department of Community Services
    P.O. Box 696
    Halifax, NS B3J 2T7
    Telephone: 1 (902) 424-4262
  • Ontario
    Ministry of Community and Social Services
    Overpayment Recovery Unit
    Box 333
    Toronto, ON M7A 1N3
    Toll free: 1 (888) 346-5184
    Fax: 1 (416) 212-7707
  • Prince Edward Island
    Department of Social Services and Seniors
    11 Kent Street, 2nd floor
    P.O. Box 2000
    Charlottetown, PE C1A 7N8
    Telephone: 1 (902) 368-6369
    Fax: 1 (902) 894-0242

Sponsors living in Quebec

The province of Quebec is responsible for determining whether sponsors living in the province have the financial ability to sponsor family members and the length of the undertaking.

Sponsors living in Quebec or currently outside Canada but who intend to reside in Quebec upon their return must only complete the Application to Sponsor, Sponsorship Agreement and Undertaking(IMM 1344), the Sponsor Questionnaire (IMM 5540) and provide the required documents. Sponsored persons who intend to reside with their sponsor in Quebec are not required to sign the IMM 1344.

If the federal eligibility requirements are met, the Case Processing Centre in Mississauga (CPC-M) will send the sponsor a letter with instructions to download MIDI’s undertaking kit, then to complete and submit it to the MIDI with a copy of the letter from CPC-M.

For more information about Quebec’s requirements, you may call MIDI’s general information line at 514-864-9191 or 1-877-864-9191 or visit Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Diversité et de l’Inclusion(MIDI).


Length of Undertaking

Your obligations as a sponsor begin when your family members enter Canada to remain as permanent residents. The table below will help you determine how long your undertaking will be valid.

Spouse or your common-law or conjugal partner

Length of undertaking is three years after that person becomes a permanent resident.

Dependent child or a dependent child of your spouse, common-law or conjugal partner and is 19 years of age or over on the day he or she becomes a permanent resident

Length of undertaking is three years after that child becomes a permanent resident.

Dependent child or a dependent child of your spouse, common-law or conjugal partner and is under 19 years of age on the day he or she becomes a permanent resident

Length of undertaking is 10 years after that child becomes a permanent resident or on the day that child reaches age 22, whichever comes first.

Note: If payments from the federal, provincial or municipal assistance program are made to your relative while the undertaking is in effect, you will be considered in default.


What will the person I want to sponsor have to do?

The person you want to sponsor (and their family members if applicable) will have to:

  • sign the Application to Sponsor, Sponsorship Agreement and Undertaking (IMM 1344), except if Quebec will be the province of residence,
  • complete the forms included with The Immigrant’s Guide (IMM 3999) and provide appropriate documentation in support of their application,
  • undergo a medical examination prior to submitting the application (results are valid for 12 months),
  • pass criminal and security verifications,
  • obtain a passport and, in some countries, an exit visa
  • attend an interview at a Canadian visa office, if required.

Note: The person you want to sponsor should not quit their job or sell their assets until they have received their permanent resident visa. All family members, whether or accompanying or not, will have to complete a medical examination.


Suspension of Process

If any of the proceedings listed below apply to you and you submit a sponsorship application to the Case Processing Centre in Mississauga (CPC-M), your application will not be processed until a final decision on that proceeding is made.

  • You have been charged with an offence that is punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of at least 10 years.
  • You are subject to a report that would render you inadmissible to Canada
  • You are the subject of an application to revoke your citizenship
  • You are the subject of a certificate signed by the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and the Solicitor General of Canada stating you are inadmissible on grounds of security, human or international rights violation, serious criminality or organized criminality
  • You are appealing the loss of your permanent resident status

May I cancel my undertaking?

If you change your mind about sponsoring your spouse, common-law partner, conjugal partner or dependent children, you must inform CPC-M at CPCM-EXTCOM@cic.gc.ca of your decision to withdraw your undertaking before the visa office issues permanent resident visas. You must clearly state your name, date of birth and Universal Client Identification (UCI) /Client ID number, if know, in all correspondences.

Once permanent resident visas are issued, the promise you and your co-signer, if applicable, made to support your family is valid for the term of your undertaking.

Note: The undertaking is an unconditional promise of support. For example, the granting of Canadian citizenship, divorce, separation or relationship breakdown or moving to another province does not cancel the undertaking. It also remains in effect if your financial situation deteriorates.


What if I do not meet the sponsorship requirements?

If you do not qualify as a sponsor and chose to withdraw your sponsorship application, you will be refunded the fees for processing the application for a permanent resident visa and any Right of Permanent Residence Fees you have paid. There will be no decision on the application for permanent residence of the person you are sponsoring and you will not have a right of appeal. You could then resolve the situation leading to your ineligibility and reapply at a later date.

If you do not qualify as a sponsor and have not notified CPC-M of your intent to withdraw, the application of the person you are sponsoring will be processed. The visa office will likely refuse the application for permanent residence and inform you in writing of your right to appeal.

Note: You can notify CPC-M of your intent by checking the appropriate box on your Application to Sponsor, Sponsorship Agreement and Undertaking (IMM 1344). See instructions on how to complete the form for additional details.


Why might the application of the person I want to sponsor be refused?

CIC may refuse an application for permanent residence for the following reasons:

  • the relationship between you and your family members is not genuine or has been entered into for immigration purposes only. For example, you married or entered into a common-law or conjugal partner relationship primarily to obtain permanent residence in Canada;
  • you do not meet the financial requirements, if applicable;
  • the person you want to sponsor and their family members have not provided the required documents, including proof that they have undergone a medical examination;
  • the person you wish to sponsor is not a member of the family class;
  • the person you wish to sponsor or their family members are inadmissible for having a criminal record or a serious illness.

What if the application of the person I want to sponsor is refused?

If the person you want to sponsor is not a member of the family class, his or her application for permanent residence will be refused.

If the person you want to sponsor does not meet the eligibility requirements or admissibility criteria for the family class, his or her application will be refused. The visa office will inform him or her of the reasons for the refusal and you will have the right to appeal the decision.

For more information read section What Happens Next.