April 7, 2015
Family Class Sponsorships – the Good, the Bad & the Timely
The ‘family class sponsorship’ category covers all applications made to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to sponsor an overseas family member. These applications can be made by a Canadian citizen anywhere in the world or by a Canadian permanent resident residing in Canada.
Who can be sponsored? Generally, an individual can sponsor a spouse (married, common-law, or conjugal partner), child (adopted or biological), parent(s) and/or grandparent(s). In unique circumstances, an individual may be able to sponsor other family members. For example, a sponsorship application may be made for a sibling if their parents are deceased and the sibling is under 18 years of age or for what is known as the ‘last remaining family member’.
Does the sponsor need to have a specific income? The sponsor is required to demonstrate that they can be financially responsible for the sponsored family member. For the sponsorship of a spouse or child, no specific income is required but the sponsor should not be in receipt of social assistance. For the sponsorship of other family members, the sponsor (and co-sponsor, if applicable) will need to demonstrate that they have received the “minimum necessary income” over the last three years.
When should the application be filed? For spouses and children, the sponsorship application can be filed at any time in the year. However, for other family members there is a program cap and so applications should be ready to be filed at the end of each calendar year. The cap opens on January 2nd each year. Presently, after 5,000 complete applications are received, the cap is met and admission to the program closes for the year.
How long will the application take to be processed? Applications begin being processed by CIC in Canada. After the sponsor is approved as an ‘eligible’ sponsor, the application is transferred to the Visa Office overseas that serves the country of residence of the family member. The processing times vary greatly, depending on the family member and the Visa Office. Presently, spouses and children take 62 days to be processed in Canada (between 8-36 months at the Visa Office), while parents and grandparents take 47 months to be processed in Canada (between 23-77 months at the Visa Office).
Are there conditions placed on family members sponsored to Canada? There are two main types of conditions that the sponsored family member can encounter after entering Canada. For spouses, CIC requires that the spouses continue to co-habit in a conjugal relationship for a period of two years after entrance to Canada. If the relationship breaks down, the sponsored spouse will lose permanent residence and will expected to leave Canada. This condition does not apply to spouses that have already been in a relationship for two or more years when the sponsorship application is filed or who already have a child together.
The other type of ‘condition’ for sponsored family members applies to the sponsorship commitment made by the sponsor. The sponsor, in making an application to CIC, has commit to being financially responsible for the sponsored family member for a period of between 3-20 years, depending upon the identity of the sponsored family member.
If the application is refused, what can be done? In most cases, if a sponsorship application is refused that decision can be appealed to the Immigration Appeal Division.
For more information on Family Class Sponsorship, please click here.