Determine your eligibility – Sponsor your spouse, partner or children

As of October 25, 2012, sponsored spouses or partners must live with their sponsor in a legitimate relationship for two years from the day they get their permanent resident status in Canada.

This applies to you if:

  • a permanent resident or Canadian citizen is sponsoring you,
  • you and your sponsor have been in a relationship for two years or less,
  • you have no children in common and
  • we got your application on or after October 25, 2012

Learn more about the new measure for spouses and partners.

You can apply to sponsor your spouse, common-law or conjugal partner, or dependent children to immigrate to Canada. It does not matter if they live in or outside Canada. If they live in Canada, they do not need to have legal status to be sponsored.

Your family member must have medical, criminal and background checks. If they have a criminal record or are a risk to Canada’s security, they may not be allowed to enter Canada.

They may have to get a police certificate in their home country. The instruction guides explain medical, criminal and background checks.

Sponsoring a spouse, partner or dependent child

You can sponsor a spouse, common-law or conjugal partner (partner), or dependent children if you are a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada. To be a sponsor, you must be 18 or older.

When you sponsor one of these relatives to become permanent residents of Canada, you must support them financially. This means you have to meet certain income guidelines.

If you have sponsored relatives to come to Canada in the past, and they have later asked the government for financial help, you may not be allowed to sponsor another person. Sponsorship is a big commitment, so you must take it seriously.

To be a sponsor you must:

  • agree in writing to give financial support to your relative, if they need it
    • for a spouse or partner, this lasts for three years from the date they become a permanent resident, and
    • for a dependent child, this lasts for 10 years, or until the child turns 25, whichever comes first.

Your relative must also agree to try to support themselves.

You may not be eligible to be a sponsor if you:

  • did not meet the terms of a sponsorship agreement in the past,
  • did not pay alimony or child support even though a court ordered it,
  • get government financial help for reasons other than being disabled,
  • were convicted of
    • an offence of a sexual nature,
    • a violent crime,
    • an offence against a relative that resulted in bodily harm or
    • an attempt or threat to commit any such offences, depending on the detailss of the case, such as
      • the type of offence,
      • how long ago it occurred and
      • whether a record suspension was issued (see Sponsorship bar for violent crime below),
  • were sponsored as a spouse, common-law or conjugal partner in the past and became a permanent resident of Canada less than five years ago (see Five-year sponsorship bar below)
  • did not pay back an immigration loan, made late payments or missed payments,
  • are in prison or
  • have declared bankruptcy and have not been released from it yet.

Other things not on this list may stop you from being able to sponsor a relative.

If you live in Quebec, Citizenship and Immigration Canada must approve you as a sponsor first. Then you must also meet Quebec’s conditions to be a sponsor.

Five-year sponsorship bar for people who were sponsored to come to Canada as a spouse or partner

Due to changes in Canada’s immigration law, if a spouse or partner sponsored you, you now cannot sponsor a new spouse or partner within five years of becoming a permanent resident. 

This rule applies even if you got your Canadian citizenship within those five years. Other members of the Family Class will not be affected by the rule change.

Spouses and partners sponsored before
Date CIC got your sponsorship application Are you eligible to sponsor someone?
Before March 2, 2012 The five-year sponsorship bar does not apply, no matter when you became a permanent resident.
On or after March 2, 2012 The five-year sponsorship bar applies. You cannot sponsor someone until you have been a permanent resident for five years.

Sponsorship bar for violent crime

The sponsorship bar stops people who have been convicted of certain crimes from sponsoring a family member.

If you have been convicted of a crime that caused bodily harm to any of the relatives below, you cannot sponsor anyone under the Family Class.

Note:

  • “Partner” includes common-law and conjugal partners.
  • Relatives not listed here may still fall under this category. If you are not sure, check the full list of rules or contact the office processing your application.

Relatives the sponsorship bar can apply to:

  • your current or ex-spouse/partner and/or their children,
  • your children,
  • your parent/grandparent, child/grandchild, sibling, niece/nephew, aunt/uncle, or cousin, or
    • the current or ex-spouse/partner and children of the above
  • the parent/grandparent, child/grandchild, sibling, niece/nephew, aunt/uncle, or cousin of your current or ex-spouse/partner or children, or
    • the current or ex-spouse/partner and children of any of the above
  • your child’s spouse, partner or children,
  • your spouse’s, partner’s or child’s ex-spouse or ex-partner and children,
  • your partner’s parent/grandparent, child/grandchild, sibling, niece/nephew, aunt/uncle, or cousin, or
  • the current or ex-spouse/partner (and their children)of any of the above,
  • a foster child who is or was cared for by
    • you,
    • your current or ex-spouse/partner or their children,
    • your parent/grandparent, child/grandchild, sibling, aunt/uncle or cousin, or
    • the current or ex-spouse/partner (and their children) of any of the above, or
  • your current or ex-boyfriend/girlfriend, their spouse or common-law partner, and their dependent children.
Definitions

Spouse

You are a spouse if you are married to your sponsor and your marriage is legal.

If you were married in Canada:

  • you must have a marriage certificate issued by the province or territory where the marriage took place.

If you were married outside Canada:

  • the marriage must be valid under the law of the country where it took place and under Canadian law, and
  • the marriage, if performed in an embassy or consulate, must follow the law of the country where it took place, not the country the embassy or consulate represents.

Sponsoring your same-sex partner as a spouse

You can apply to sponsor your same-sex partner as a spouse if you:

  • are a citizen or permanent resident of Canada and
  • were married in Canada and issued a marriage certificate by a Canadian province or territory on or after one of these dates:
    • British Columbia (on or after July 8, 2003),
    • Manitoba (on or after September 16, 2004),
    • New Brunswick (on or after July 4, 2005),
    • Newfoundland and Labrador (on or after December 21, 2004),
    • Nova Scotia (on or after September 24, 2004),
    • Ontario (on or after June 10, 2003),
    • Quebec (on or after March 19, 2004),
    • Saskatchewan (on or after November 5, 2004),
    • Yukon (on or after July 14, 2004) or
    • all other provinces or territories (on or after July 20, 2005).

If you were married outside Canada, you may apply to sponsor your same-sex partner as a spouse as long as the marriage is legally recognized according to both the law of the place where the marriage occurred and under Canadian law.

It is your responsibility to provide information to CIC confirming that your same-sex-marriage was legally recognized when and where it occurred.

Common-law partner

You are a common-law partner—either of the opposite sex or the same sex—if:

  • you have been living together in a conjugal relationship for at least one year in an ongoing 12-month period (you are allowed short absences for business travel or family reasons).

You will need proof that you and your common-law partner have combined your affairs and set up a household together. This can be in the form of proof of:

  • joint bank accounts or credit cards.
  • joint ownership of a home.
  • joint residential leases.
  • joint rental receipts,
  • joint registration or payment of utilities (electricity, gas, telephone),
  • joint management of household expenses,
  • joint purchases, especially of household items, or
  • mail addressed to either person or both people at the same address.

Conjugal partner

This category is for partners—either of the opposite sex or same sex—in situations beyond their control that keep them from living together so they would count as common-law partners or spouses.

A conjugal relationship is more than a physical relationship. It means you depend on each other, there is some permanence to the relationship, and there is the same level of commitment as a marriage or a common-law partnership.

You may apply as a conjugal partner if:

  • you have had a conjugal relationship with your sponsor for at least one year and you could not live together or marry because of
    • an immigration barrier,
    • 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) and
  • you can prove there was a reason you could not live together (for example, you were refused long-term stays in each other’s country).

You should not apply as a conjugal partner if:

  • you could have lived together but chose not to, as this shows that you did not have the level of commitment needed for a conjugal relationship (for example, one of you may not have wanted to give up a job or a course of study, or your relationship was not yet at the point where you were ready to live together),
  • you cannot prove there was a reason that kept you from living together,
  • you are engaged to be married (in this case, you should either apply as a spouse once the marriage has taken place or apply as a common-law partner if you have lived together continuously for at least 12 months).

Dependent children

A son or daughter is dependent when the child:

  • is under age 22 and does not have a spouse or common-law partner,
  • is over age 22 and has
    • been enrolled as a full-time student on an ongoing basis and
    • depended largely on the financial support of a parent since before age 22,
  • became a spouse or a common-law partner before age 22 and has
    • been enrolled as a full-time student on an ongoing basis and
    • depended largely on the financial support of a parent since they became a spouse or common-law partner, or
  • is over age 22 and has depended largely on the financial support of a parent since before age 22 because of a physical or mental condition.

People who cannot be sponsored

You cannot be sponsored as a spouse, a common-law partner or a conjugal partner if:

  • you are under age 16,
  • you (or your sponsor) were married to someone else at the time of your marriage
  • you have lived apart from your sponsor for at least one year, and either you or your sponsor are the common-law or conjugal partner of another person,
  • your sponsor applied for permanent residence but did not include you on their application as someone who should be examined or
  • your sponsor has sponsored another spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner in the past, and three years have not passed since that person became a permanent resident (or five years if your application was received on or after March 2, 2012).

Related links

 
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