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Starting June 26, 2024, Quebec’s Immigration Department will accept up to 13,000 applications to sponsor family members over a two-year period, ending on June 25, 2026. This change aims to reduce the backlog and offer clear guidelines for those wishing to reunite with their loved ones in Quebec. However, there are likely to be (potentially unintended) consequences from this policy change – including some Quebecers who may move out of the province to sponsor their family member(s).

Key Details of the Sponsorship Program

Application Caps and Categories:

  • Total Applications: The program will accept 13,000 applications with limited exceptions.
  • Spouse, Partner, or Adult Child Sponsorships: 10,400 applications.
  • Parent, Grandparent, or Other Relative Sponsorships: 2,600 applications.

Application Process:

  • First-Come, First-Served: Applications will be processed in the order they are received.
  • Deadline: If the cap is reached before June 26, 2026, the Immigration Department will stop accepting applications.
  • After the Limit: Applications received after the limit will be returned without processing, and no fees will be collected. Applicants can reapply in the next period.

Exemptions to the Application Limits

Certain sponsorship cases are exempt from the application caps, ensuring that vulnerable family members and special cases are always considered. These exemptions include:

  • Children Under 18: You can always apply to sponsor a child under 18 years old.
  • Adoption Cases: Applications to sponsor a minor child you wish to adopt are always accepted.
  • Orphaned Minors: Siblings, nieces, nephews, or grandchildren who are orphaned minors can be sponsored.
  • Dependent Adult Children: Adults with a physical or mental condition who are dependent on you can be sponsored.

These exemptions ensure that those in the most need of support and care can always find a path to reunification, regardless of the overall application limits. Individuals being sponsored under the exemptions must not be married or in a common-law relationship.

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Why Is This Cap Significant

This policy is causing frustration among potential sponsors. Unlike the federal government, which has target approval figures, but does not cap applications outside the parent/grandparent program, Quebec is imposing a cap on applications with a return-to-sender policy if the limit is reached. This approach is seen as unfair and burdensome.

Data from Open Canada shows the following number of sponsored family members becoming permanent residents in Quebec over the past years, less the number of sponsored children (since these are excluded from the cap): 

  • 9,795 in 2015
  • 10,430 in 2016
  • 11,355 in 2016
  • 11,490 in 2018
  • 9,125 in 2019
  • 7,425 in 2020
  • 12,970 in 2021
  • 11,845 in 2022
  • 9,560 in 2023. 

This means that we will see fewer spousal applications being accepted in Quebec in coming years. 

As a result, some Permanent Residents (PRs) and Canadians in Quebec might consider moving outside the province or even pretending to do so to sponsor their spouse or partner. This additional layer of complexity makes the process exhausting and discouraging for many who just want to reunite with their families.

Impact on Families

Families hoping to reunite face an additional hurdle with Quebec’s new policy. The requirement to adhere to a strict cap on applications creates uncertainty and anxiety for those planning to sponsor loved ones. The process becomes a race against time, adding pressure to an already stressful situation.

Moreover, the return-to-sender policy for applications submitted after the cap is reached means that many families may see their hopes dashed if they are not quick enough. This contrasts sharply with the federal system, where applications can still be submitted even if the number of approvals is capped annually.

It is also worth noting the significant backlogs in Quebec’s processing of spousal applications is already causing heartache for Quebec families. The current processing time for this program is 34 months, which is a long time to be potentially separated from loved ones or in immigration limbo in Canada. This is much higher than the 10 months you’d expect to wait for spousal sponsorship under the federal program. 

Potential Consequences

The stringent application cap could lead to unintended consequences. Some residents may choose to leave Quebec to facilitate family sponsorship under federal rules, which do not have the same application cap. This could result in a migration of families out of Quebec.

Additionally, the policy could discourage immigration to Quebec, as potential immigrants might opt for provinces with more straightforward and less restrictive family sponsorship processes. Quebec’s unique identity and culture thrive on the diversity and vibrancy brought by new immigrants, and policies that complicate family reunification could detract from these strengths.

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About the author

Stephanie Ford profile picture

Stephanie Ford

Finance, Law and Immigration Writer
Stephanie is a content marketer who has written for law firms (with a focus on immigration and privacy), legal tech companies, and finance professionals for more than 9 years. She earned a Bachelor of Laws and a Graduate Diploma in Financial Planning in Australia. Stephanie is now a permanent resident of Canada and a full-time writer at Moving2Canada.
Read more about Stephanie Ford
Citation "The Quebec Cap On Family Sponsorship: What You Should Know." Moving2Canada. . Copy for Citation


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