Family sponsorship continues to be one of the most popular avenues for immigration to Canada, with approximately 65,000 people obtaining permanent residency through this class every year. This program is based on one of the founding objectives of Canada’s immigration program: to see that families are reunited in Canada.

Who is eligible for family sponsorship?

The Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC”) allows citizens and permanent residents of Canada to sponsor certain family members in their immigration to Canada. Family members eligible for sponsorship to Canada include the spouse and common-law partner of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, a dependent child of the sponsor and the sponsor’s parents/grandparents.

Can I sponsor extended family to come to Canada?

Sponsorship of extended family members is generally not permitted. Only in exceptional circumstances will a Canadian citizen or permanent resident be able to sponsor an extended family member such as a brother or sister, aunts or uncles, or cousins and sometimes de facto family members can be sponsored.

What is the process for spousal sponsorship?

There are two different types of spousal sponsorship applications: an “in Canada” application and an “out of Canada” application. In Canada applications are for spouses that are visiting Canada but do not have permanent status.  Out of Canada applications are for spouses that are still living abroad. The process for both applications is very similar.

While the sponsorship and permanent residency is one large application that is submitted, it is processed in two stages.  First stage is the Canadian citizen or permanent resident must be approved as a sponsor. There are a variety of factors which are considered in approving a sponsor, including the sponsor’s commitment to providing basic requirements to their spouse, including food, clothing and shelter.

The second stage is when the spouse is approved as a permanent resident. Among the items required in an application for spousal sponsorship, the applicant will need to demonstrate that the relationship with the sponsor is genuine. It is very important to provide proof of the relationship, which can include photos, bank statements and a marriage certificate.

How long does a spousal sponsorship application take to process?

Spousal Sponsorship application processing times are based on IRCC’s caseload; however, the Government of Canada recently committed to processing Spousal Sponsorship application within 12 months; while that is the processing time for straightforward application, you need to keep in mind that if your case is a bit complicated it can take a bit longer to process.

Can I apply for a Work Permit while I am waiting for my application to finalize?

If you have applied for a Spousal Sponsorship, you may be able to secure an Open Work Permit.    The criteria is that the application must be an In Canada Spousal Sponsorship and you must have valid status and the time of submitting the application.

Can I be in Canada if I have applied for an Out of Canada Spousal Sponsorship?

Yes, most definitely you may come and visitor your spouse during this process as long as you have a temporary resident visa, as required based on your country of citizenship.

Can I apply on my own?

Yes, applicants and sponsors under the family class can apply on their own and it is not always necessary to include an immigration professional. However, applications for permanent residency can be very complicated, and simple mistakes in the application process can lead to rejection or to significant delays. Many people receive peace of mind in retaining a lawyer to assist in their permanent residency application.

Immigration lawyers are trained in interpreting legislation and have the experience of preparing numerous family sponsorship applications.

Please note that this is general information and should not be relied upon as legal advice.  As each situation is unique, we recommend that those who would like to know more about these changes or any other immigration options to contact us so that we may provide specific information based on your personal circumstances.

The writer, Sandra Hakanson is a lawyer practicing in Canadian Immigration & Citizenship Law and is familiar with assisting clients with all aspects of Canadian Immigration.  Sandra can be reached at or by calling 250-870-9088.

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