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Sponsoring a family member: What you should know

People from all over the world want to live, work or go to school in Canada. And if that includes you, you may have family members who wish to join you. Sponsoring a spouse, child or other relative to come to this country can be a wonderful gift, but it is also a responsibility you must take seriously.

If you wish to sponsor your family, you should know what this entails and what can happen in the event of a mistake or oversight in the process.

Sponsorship duties

To sponsor a family member, you must be sure you are eligible to do so and can fulfill sponsorship obligations. The precise requirements depend on the type of relative you are sponsoring, but generally, the law requires that you:

  • Are at least 18 years old
  • Are a citizen or permanent resident of Canada
  • Can financially support the applicant, if necessary

You may not be able to sponsor a family member if you cannot meet these requirements. Further, there are restrictions on being a sponsor if you collect social assistance (excluding disability), if you are imprisoned or if you have a conviction related to a violent offence against a family member.

The financial component of sponsoring someone requires you to have the means to pay for their basic needs if they cannot do so themselves. You may also need to pay sponsorship and application fees if the applicant does not.

As a sponsor, it is also your responsibility to read application requirements and ensure the applicant fills out the proper forms in full.

Consequences of missteps in the process

Making a mistake as a sponsor or applicant can have upsetting consequences. It could delay the application or lead to a rejection or loss of status. Further, it could strain your relationship with your loved one. 

Considering how vital the sponsor role is when it comes to the family class immigration program in Canada, it can be wise to have help. An immigration lawyer can review paperwork and help you navigate the process so that you and your loved one can avoid costly missteps.

Bringing a spouse, child or another loved one to live, work or get an education in Canada does take some work. However, the result is uniting with family when those efforts are successful, which can be priceless.