Immigration: Bring Your Family to Your New Home

Elise Bell practices law in Toronto at Mamann & Associates

Shortly after becoming permanent residents of Canada, our clients turn their attention to the issue of family sponsorships. Whether it be for elderly parents who are now alone in their country of nationality, or younger siblings who are finishing up their studies, new permanent residents of Canada want to provide as much assistance to their relatives as possible. In many cases, this means sponsoring future applications for permanent residence. It is wise to look into sponsorship requirements early as Canadian immigration law is very specific about who can sponsor and who can be sponsored.

Only members of the “family class” can be sponsored. This includes spouses or parents and their dependent children. While many of us believe we have an understanding of what it means to be “dependent”, the immigration law spells it out differently. A “dependent child” is a biological or adopted child who fits into one of the following categories:

  1. is single and under 22 years of age;
  2. is single and over 22 years of age and since before they were 22 has been financially dependent on the parent and has been a full time student actively pursuing and continuously enrolled in an accredited post-secondary institution;
  3. is married or a common-law partner and since before becoming married or a common-law partner, has been financially dependent on the parent and has been a full time student actively pursuing and continuously enrolled in an accredited postsecondary institution; or
  4. is 22 or older and financially dependent on the parent due to a physical or mental condition.

If a sponsorship application is submitted to immigration before the child turns 22 (option 1), the fact that he or she will turn 22 while the application is being processed does not matter. However, all of the other requirements must be met.

For options 2 and 3, particular attention must be made to the phrase ‘continuously enrolled in an accredited post-secondary institution’. There can be no gaps in the studies. A child who chooses to take a short break could have his/her dependency questioned.

For sponsors, this means that every attempt should be made to file the sponsorship application before the eldest child turns 22.

Sponsors should also be aware that not every permanent resident of Canada can file a sponsorship application. Permanent residents must be residing in Canada and in many cases must show a minimum amount of Canadian income before submitting a sponsorship. There are several other requirements, making it worth a closer look before embarking on the process.

Finally, sponsors have probably heard of the lengthy processing times for most sponsorship applications. While this is often true of parental sponsorships, spousal and child sponsorships can often be finalized within a year.

CNM