Family Class Spousal and Dependent Children Sponsorship

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The topics in the Dial-A-Law series provide general information on a wide variety of legal issues in the Province of Alberta. This service is provided by Calgary Legal Guidance funded in part by the Alberta Law Foundation.

This topic discusses how Canadian Citizens or Permanent Residents are able to sponsor spouses and dependent children.

The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and Regulations define a Family Class of relatives of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident who may be sponsored for permanent residence in Canada. This includes parents, grandparents, dependent children, and spouses, married, common-law, conjugal and same sex spouses.

While possible to again sponsor parents and grandparents after a few years when this category was suspended, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC”) has imposed restrictions on the number who may be sponsored in a given year. No such restrictions exist for spouses and dependent children. The application can be made while the sponsor is in Canada and the sponsored spouse is not, or when both are in Canada, even when the sponsored spouse lacks legal immigration status in Canada. All other eligibility requirements continue to apply.

In addition, the financial requirements for sponsorship of parents and grandparents do not apply for spouses and dependent children although sponsors must still provide an undertaking of financial support and proof of finances. For spouses, the period of support is three years, whether or not the couple stay together; for dependent children, 10 years or age 25, whichever comes first.

The Sponsor must not be in breach of previous Sponsorships, repayment of any immigration loan or child support obligations, have a criminal record involving family members, be bankrupt or incarcerated or on social assistance for a reason other than disability. The sponsored person must have no criminal record or be considered rehabilitated for prior criminality and be healthy.

CIC carefully assesses Spousal Sponsorships to determine whether they are truly marriages of love or marriages of convenience for immigration purposes. If a Family Class Sponsorship is refused for any reason, the sponsor has an appeal to the Immigration Appeal Division. The appeal may consider fact, law and humanitarian and compassionate factors.

Spousal sponsorship now results in the foreign spouse receiving only conditional permanent residence for five years from the time of issue of permanent resident visa. If the spouses do not cohabitate for the five years, permanent residence is revoked for the foreign spouse, with some exceptions, such as when the couple have children together or it is a long-term relationship.

The process involves a preliminary approval of the sponsor at Case Processing Centre Mississauga Ontario, after which the file is forwarded to the visa office closest to the foreign sponsored person. If it is a Spouse in Canada Class Sponsorship from within Canada, the application is sent to Case Processing Centre Mississauga, Ontario and from there may be delegated to the CIC office closest to the spouses.

Sponsorship processing times vary according to type and visa office. Current Spousal Sponsorship processing times are available on the CIC website at

Normal fees for permanent residence must be paid when submitting a Family Class Sponsorship, $550.00 per adult and $150.00 per child. If the application is successful, each foreign adult applicant will also pay a $490.00 Right to Residence fee at the end of the process.

Further information is available on the website of Citizenship and Immigration Canada .