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The Government of Canada is strongly committed to keeping families together and, as such, allows parents to sponsor their dependant children for Canadian immigration.
If a child meets the definition of a dependant and the parent meets the requirements to be a sponsor, then the parent can submit an application for the child to become a Canadian permanent resident.
Canada’s family class immigration allows the sponsorship of children, spouses, common-law/conjugal partners, and even parents and grandparents. Family class accounts for around a quarter of all new permanent residents admitted to Canada each year.
If a child was born in Canada, or if one of the child’s parents is a Canadian citizen, then there is a strong possibility that the child is already a Canadian citizen. If you think you or your child might meet this criteria, you can use Canada’s citizenship tool to check.
In order to qualify for sponsorship, both the sponsoring parent and the dependant child must meet the eligibility requirements listed below, as determined by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
Parent: Requirements to sponsor a child for Canadian immigration
To qualify as a sponsor, a parent must be at least 18 years old and have status as either a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.
All sponsors must agree to provide for the basic needs of the person they wish to sponsor. In addition, sponsors must sign an undertaking, agreeing to provide financial support to their sponsored family member once they become a permanent resident and repay any social assistance payments received by the sponsored family member during the period of the undertaking.
There are certain situations that can result in a parent being ineligible to sponsor their child:
- If the parent was sponsored to become a permanent resident of Canada less than five years prior to an application to sponsor.
- If the parent does not intend to live in Canada with the sponsored child once they become a permanent resident.
- If the parent is a permanent resident and residing outside Canada. (Please note: Canadian citizens can file a sponsorship application regardless of their country of residence, so long as they intend to live in Canada with the sponsored relative once the application is approved.)
- If the parent is receiving social assistance for a reason other than a disability.
- If the parent is in jail or has been convicted of certain criminal offences, especially offences against relatives.
In most cases, the sponsoring parent does not have to show proof of financial income. However, if the dependant child being sponsored also has dependant children of their own, then the parent will be required to meet a certain income requirement.
If you are living in Quebec and want to sponsor a child: Please note that you must meet Quebec’s immigration sponsorship requirements in addition to the requirements listed in this article.
Potential sponsors may be unable or unwilling to submit an application under the Parent and Grandparent Program. This may be because they were not invited to apply, or want to bring their parent(s) or grandparent(s) to Canada sooner.
Fortunately, there is another way. IRCC allows parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens and permanent residents to enjoy extended visits to Canada under the Super Visa program. With a Super Visa, a person may be approved to remain in Canada for up to two years upon initial entry to Canada. The visa itself is valid for up to 10 years, so holders may return to Canada for as long as the visa remains valid.
The Super Visa is not a permanent residence program. Applicants need to obtain private medical insurance and may not work in Canada unless otherwise authorised to do so. However, the relatively quick processing times mean that families may be reunited in Canada sooner than under the Parent and Grandparent Program. Moreover, applicants do not have to be invited to apply; if eligible, they may submit an application at any time and be approved to come to Canada.
Concerned about your sponsorship application?
Children: Eligibility requirements to be sponsored for Canadian immigration
First, your child must meet Canada’s definition of a dependant. There are two ways to demonstrate status as a dependant:
- The child is under the age of 22 and they do not have a spouse or a common-law partner; or
- The child is 22 years of age or older and they are unable to financially support themselves because of a mental or physical condition and have depended on their parents for financial support since before the age of 22.
Additionally, in order to be eligible for sponsorship, you must be sponsoring your own child, or the child of your spouse/partner. However, if you are sponsoring your spouse/partner’s child who is not your child, then you must be sponsoring your spouse/partner at the same time. Please note that Canada has a separate process for sponsoring adopted children.
To find out if your child is eligible for sponsorship, you can check IRCC’s tool to find out if a child qualifies as a dependant.
All sponsored family members must not be inadmissible to Canada. Family class applicants may be deemed inadmissible for having committed past criminal offences or for having medical conditions that pose a risk to Canadian public health and safety.
Notably, sponsored family members are exempt from medical inadmissibility on the grounds of causing excessive demand on the Canadian healthcare system. This means that if a sponsored family member has a medical condition requiring costly treatment, they will not be denied immigration on the basis of that condition.
How to apply to sponsor a child for Canadian immigration
An application to sponsor a child for Canadian immigration is made up of two components. First, the applicant must prove that they meet the qualifications to be a sponsor. Second, the applicant must prove that the child is eligible to be sponsored for Canadian permanent residence.
To build the application, prospective applicants can use IRCC’s Guide 5525, which includes details about the family sponsorship application.
Please note that family sponsorship applications have country-specific requirements. Applicants must use IRCC’s family sponsorship application package page to determine their requirements. After entering their details, IRCC will generate the necessary checklists, forms, and instructions pertaining to the child’s sponsorship.
Family sponsorship applications are paper-based. The application must be prepared in hard-copy, in a single envelope, and submitted to IRCC by mail or courier. The fee for sponsoring a child is CAD $150 and the processing time varies by the sponsored child’s country of residence.
Inland or outland sponsorship for children?
Though IRCC does not officially use the terms “inland” and “outland,” they are commonly used to describe spousal sponsorship applications. An inland application refers to an application where the sponsored spouse is residing inside of Canada, while an outland application refers to an application where the sponsored spouse is residing outside of Canada.
The terms “inland” and “outland” are not relevant when sponsoring a child for Canadian immigration. All applications to sponsor a child for Canadian immigration are received at a visa office in Canada.
Family sponsorship and Express Entry
Please note that Express Entry, along with many of Canada’s other economic classes of immigration, allow parents and children to apply for permanent resident status simultaneously. This means that if a person qualifies for an Express Entry-aligned program, they can simply include their spouse/partner and any dependant children on their initial application.
In many cases, this removes the requirement to sponsor family members later on and allows families to stay together more easily. However, in order to be admitted to Canada through Express Entry, would-be applicants first need to create an Express Entry profile and receive an invitation to apply.
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