To apply for an immigrant visa under family class, applicants must get a sponsor, who is a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident residing in Canada. In this class, the sponsor will be responsible for financially supporting sponsored immigrants for the period of three for a spouse or for others a minimum of ten years or until the child becomes 25, whichever occurs first.
|Who May be Sponsored
The following are eligible to be sponsored:
- Common-law or same-sex partner,
- Child under the age of 22 with no spouse or common-law partner,
- Children age 22 or over who remain financially dependent upon a parent
and either have continuously been full-time students or are disabled,
- Children adopted or to be adopted before attaining the age of 18 and
- any relative so long as one has no living family-class members or cousins.
In addition, the dependant children of a person being sponsored will also be permitted
to immigrate as the sponsored immigrant’s dependant(s). Thus, sponsored spouses may
be accompanied by their own dependent children even though they are not related by
blood to the sponsor and, thus, the sponsor could not have sponsored them directly.
Dependent children include children by blood or adoption if
- under age 22 and unmarried or
- if over age 22 or married and financially dependent and
- they have been continuously in school since age 22 or2 or
- they are disabled.
City, Vancouver, B.C.
Likewise, although siblings may not be sponsored directly, they may be sponsored indirectly as the dependent children of a sponsored parent. Moreover, even if the parent(s) does not want to live in Canada, sponsoring the parent(s) in order for a sibling to immigrate is feasible because a family-class immigrant’s immigration status is independent of everyone else’s status. Therefore, the parent may return home permanently without affecting the sponsored child’s immigration status. In fact, this phenomenon occurs so frequently that we have the term “courier parents”.
|Requirements for Sponsorship
Canadian citizens and permanent residents may sponsor family-class members so long as the sponsor is at least 18 years of age and residing in Canada at the time of the sponsorship is lodged and until the sponsored immigrants are issued immigrant-visas. An exception to the residency requirement, however, is extended to Canadian citizens who are sponsoring a spouse or dependent child. They must, however, promise to resume residing in Canada once their sponsored dependant is poised to immigrate.
Except for those sponsoring a spouse or a childless dependent child, the sponsor must meet the income level Immigration Canada requires for the sponsor and his/her deemed dependants. Those sponsoring a spouse or childless dependent child may do so provided they are not receiving public assistance (except for disability payments). (Public assistance does not include unemployment benefits.)
In determining financial eligibility, the Immigration officer contrasts the sponsor's taxable Canadian income with the number of persons deemed dependent upon the sponsor; i.e., (a) the sponsor, (b) the sponsor’s dependants, (c) those to be sponsored and (d) those who previous sponsorship is still in force . If sponsor’s taxable Canadian income for the preceding year, as confirmed by the Option C notice-of-assessment (or, if last year’s income is insufficient, the twelve months preceding the filing of the sponsorship) equals or exceeds the "low-income cut-off" for a family of that size, the undertaking is generally approved (unless the sponsor is ineligible to sponsor).
Sponsors who do not have sufficient income in their own right to meet this standard may include the income of their spouse so long as the spouse becomes a co-sponsor. If so, the family unit will be increased by the number of immigrants whom the co-sponsor previously sponsored and whose sponsorship remains in force.
Sponsorships initiated after 27 June 2002 for a spouse run for three years from landing; those initiated earlier, for then years. Sponsorships for parents last for ten years from landing. Sponsorship initiated before 27 June 2002 for children last for ten years but those filed after 27 June 2002 continue the earlier of ten years or until the child reaches age 25 (unless the child was over age 22 when sponsored, in which case it runs for three years.)
The required Canadian income, which is the “Low-Income Cut-Off” (LICO), is adjusted annually on
January 1st. The 2011 income requirement is:
Low Income Cut-off (LICO)
Effective until December 31, 2011
|Size of Family Unit
|each additional person
|Ineligibility to Act as Sponsor
The Regulations exclude from sponsorship the following:
- those in default of a previous undertaking, transportation loan or "Right of Landing" loan;
- those in default of court-ordered support payments;
- those who filed for bankruptcy and have not been discharged;
- those confined to a penal institution;
- landed immigrants with pending criminal charges which, if convicted, would lead to revocation of landed status;
- landed immigrants subject to an Immigration report which could lead to issuance of a (conditional) removal order;
- landed immigrants subject to a (conditional) removal order issued after being landed and
- h. those who have been convicted anywhere of any offence found in the Criminal Code of Canada against the sponsor’s spouse or the sponsor’s or the sponsor’s spouse’s “relative” unless the sentence was completed at least five years ago.
|Obligation of Sponsors
The sponsor and spouse, if both incomes are used, are required to provide economic necessities for those whom they have sponsored during the duration of the sponsorship. A sponsorship for a spouse lasts for the period of three but for parents it continues for ten years, whereas for children, a sponsor remains financially responsible until the earlier of ten years or until the child becomes 25, unless the child had attained age 22 before the sponsorship was lodged, in which case, the sponsorship continues for three years.
Neither post-immigration estrangement nor divorce terminates a sponsor’s financial obligation. Sponsors may only avoid this liability by notifying the processing visa-post in writing before the visas are issued that they wish to abort the sponsorship.
Some provinces restrict the right of sponsored immigrants to obtain social assistance. If such benefits are received, the sponsor (and co-sponsoring spouse) are jointly and severally liable to repay the province. Immigration officials have taken action against sponsors who fail to honour their undertakings.
|Initiating Sponsorships and Appealing Denials
Family-class applications are initiated by the sponsor filing an undertaking-of-support with the Case Processing Centre in Mississauga, Ontario. The reviewing officer's decision – be it an approval or a rejection – is forwarded to the visa-post processing the immigrants' application, and the sponsor is notified of the referral.
If the undertaking is refused, the sponsor may, nevertheless, request the visa-post to process the application anyway. If the visa-post refuses the application, the refusal may be appealed to the Immigration Appeal Division of the Immigration and Refugee Board, which, so long as the putative immigrant is a family-class member, has the authority to overturn the decision either because the officer erred or, where legally correct, if, considering all of the circumstances, it would be more equitable to approve the undertaking rather than refuse it.
|Accompanying Dependants of the Sponsored Relative
Where the sponsored immigrant has accompanying dependants whose eligibility for admission is derivative of the sponsored immigrant's; e.g., the sponsored immigrant's children who are not the sponsor's children; the sponsored immigrant must land with, or in advance of, the sponsored immigrant's dependants. If derivative dependants arrive in Canada prior to the sponsored immigrant, they are not "accompanying or following-to-join dependants" and, thus, may not be granted landed status in their own right.