Guide 3999 – Before You Apply

Before you apply

Permanent residence under the Family Class

Sponsoring your family

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) knows it is important to help families who come from other countries to reunite in Canada. If you are a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada, you can sponsor your spouse, common-law partner, conjugal partner, dependent child (including adopted child) to become a permanent resident.

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.


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 the Frequently Asked Questions.

Who may use this application

The enclosed instructions and forms are sent to the principal applicant (you) by the sponsor (a Canadian citizen or permanent resident) who wishes to support the application for immigration to Canada of a person (you) as a member of the family class.

The sponsor agrees to sign a contract (the sponsorship undertaking) by which he or she promises to provide, for a specific number of years, coverage of your basic requirements and those of your dependants, such as:

  • food
  • clothing
  • utilities
  • personal requirements
  • shelter
  • fuel
  • household supplies
  • dental care
  • eye care, and
  • other health care not provided by public health

It is important that you familiarize yourself with the contents of this guide before you complete the forms and return them to your sponsor. Your sponsor cannot submit the sponsorship forms until he or she receives your application.

About the Family Class

The family class includes, among others, persons who are the sponsor’s

  • spouse
  • common-law partner
  • conjugal partner
  • dependant son or daughter (see family members)

Note: You cannot be sponsored as a spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner if the sponsor gave a previous sponsorship undertaking in favour of a spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner and three years have not passed since that spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner became a permanent resident of Canada.

Who should be included in this application?

If you are being sponsored as a member of the family class, your spouse or common-law partner (except where your spouse or common-law partner is the sponsor) must be included in your application as a family member. You must also include all your dependent children from your current and previous relationships, whether they will be going with you to Canada (accompanying family members) or not (non-accompanying family members).

All your family members, whether accompanying you or not, must be declared on your application and be examined. If family members are not examined, it is generally not possible to sponsor them at a later date. This includes children in the custody of a former spouse or common-law partner.

In addition, failure to declare family members on your application and have them examined goes against your duty to provide truthful and accurate information, and may cause you to be found inadmissible to Canada.

Note: The visa office will not issue permanent resident visas to family members whom you identify as not accompanying you to Canada.

Family members

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

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:

The child is under the age of 19 and is single (not married and not in a common-law relationship).
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.

Do you intend to reside in Quebec?

If you are being sponsored by a Canadian citizen or permanent resident living in the province of Quebec and you intend to settle there, you will receive from your sponsor an additional set of instructions and a form, the Application for Selection Certificate, to complete, sign and return to your sponsor.

If your sponsor meets all of the conditions of Quebec’s provincial legislation to provide an undertaking for you, a Certificat de sélection du Québec (CSQ) will be issued to you. A CSQ is a document issued by the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Diversité et de l’Inclusion (MIDI)indicating that you are a family class immigration candidate being sponsored by a resident of Quebec who meets the conditions of the provincial legislation.

For more information on Quebec’s requirements, go to the MIDI website at

Do I need a passport or travel document?

You and your family members must have valid passports or travel documents. If any of the documents are to expire soon, you should renew them and provide copies of the new passport or travel document to the office processing your application.

Diplomatic, official, service or public affairs passports cannot be used to immigrate to Canada. You must have a valid regular or private passport when you arrive.

Note: The validity of your visa may be affected by the validity of your passport.

How long do I have to complete the application and submit it?

You should complete the forms and return them as soon as possible to your sponsor, along with all supporting documentation.

Note: Your sponsor cannot submit the sponsorship forms until he or she receives your application.

How long is a permanent resident visa valid?

A permanent resident visa is issued for a period not exceeding the earliest expiry date of the following documents:

  • the medical results for you and your family members or
  • your or your family members’ passport.

Important information: Permanent resident visas cannot be extended once issued. If applicants do not use the visas within their validity period, they must re-apply for immigration to Canada. Their sponsor will have to submit a new sponsorship application and pay new processing fees.

My child is in the sole custody of my former spouse. Do I need to include this child in my application?

Yes. Even if there is a written agreement or court order to demonstrate that you do not have custody or responsibility, the child is still required to be listed on your application and must be examined.

Having your child examined as a condition of your application preserves your right to sponsor him or her as a member of the family class in the future, when there may be changes to custody or living circumstances.

Staying informed

Selection criteria, requirements and other information for applicants can sometimes change. Please note that:

  • Applications will be processed according to the rules and regulations in effect at the time the application is made. Rules and regulations may change at any time.

Our website contains the latest news, selection criteria updates and applications links. Check periodically for updated information.

CIC’s commitment

We are committed to issuing visas for routine cases of spouses, common-law partners, conjugal partners and/or dependent children as quickly as possible after the Case Processing Centre in Mississauga (CPC-M) receives complete applications from the sponsor.

However, a number of factors could have an impact on the outcome of your application or the time needed to process it. There can be no guarantee that the sponsorship will be approved or that the visas will be issued.

Note: A list of factors that can facilitate or delay processing of applications has been provided to your sponsor.