Family Members

A family member is a spouse/common law partner/conjugal partner or dependent child. The aforementioned persons may be sponsored if they are living inside or outside Canada.

A Canadian citizen or a permanent resident can sponsor his/her spouse/ common law partner/ conjugal partner or dependent child if the Canadian citizen or permanent resident is 18 years of age or older and meets other obligations.


Sponsoring a family member is a big responsibility; you must undertake to financially support those whom you sponsored.

If you have previously sponsored persons who have turned to the government of Canada for assistance, you may not be able to sponsor anyone again.

Main obligations of a sponsor:

  • The sponsor and the sponsored person must sign an agreement stating that the sponsor will be able to provide financial support for his/her spouse/ common law partner/ conjugal partner or relative; the agreement also states that the sponsored person will be making every effort to support themselves once they become permanent residents in Canada.
  • The sponsor must be able to provide financial support for his/her spouse/ common law partner/ conjugal partner for at least 3 years from the day they arrive in Canada.
  • The sponsor must provide support for a dependent child for 10 years from the date the child becomes a permanent resident up until the child is 25 years old, or whichever comes first.


  • Spouse

    October 25, 2015, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), formerly known as Citizenship and Immigration Canada CIC, has put in place controls on the acceptance of marriage, common law or conjugal relationships. A Canadian Citizen or a Permanent resident who enters into a marriage relationship may sponsor a foreign national, however, the status of Permanent residence bestowed upon the foreign national is conditional.

    What are the conditions?
    If a spouse or a partner has been in a genuine relationship with their sponsor for two years or less on the date of their application, the Permanent residence status granted to the sponsored person is conditional. The condition defines a minimum period of cohabitation with the sponsor for a minimum of 24 calendar months. There are exceptions to this rule, if the sponsor and the sponsored partner have children in common at the time of application.

    A spouse is the person you are married to and your marriage is valid under a contract.
    If you married your spouse inside Canada, the sponsor must present a copy of the marriage certificate issued by the province or the territory in which you got married.
    If you married outside Canada, the marriage must be valid under the laws of the country you married in AND under the laws of Canada.

  • Same Sex Partner

    A Canadian Citizen and permanent resident may sponsor a same sex partner if:

    The marriage took place in Canada and the marriage certificate was issued by a Canadian province or territory on or after the dates when same sex marriages were recognized in the province or territory The marriage took place outside Canada in one of the following jurisdictions, where it was recognized as a legal marriage and was in accordance with the Canadian law:

    • Argentina
    • Belgium
    • Denmark
    • Iceland
    • Netherlands
    • Norway
    • Portugal
    • Spain
    • South Africa
    • Sweden
    • Mexico City
    • And part of the United States of America
  • Common Law Partner

    Common law union between partners of the same or opposite sex is permitted for Canadian sponsorship purposes.

    You can be considered in a common law relationship if you have cohabited in a conjugal relationship with your partner for a minimum of one year in a continuous 12-month period. If you traveled away from your partner for business or family reasons however, this will not be considered as a discontinuity.

  • Proof of Common Law Union

    If your partner is the same or opposite sex as you are you may be able to sponsor them if:

    You have been living in a conjugal relationship with your partner for a period of 12 months no interrupted (except for business, medical and family reasons).

    You must prove that you and your partner have established a household and are living together in a bona fide relationship.

    Examples of how you may prove the authenticity of your common law union:

    • Joint bank accounts or credit cards
    • Joint ownership of a home
    • Joint residential leases
    • Joint rental receipts
    • Joint utilities (electricity, gas, telephone)
    • Joint management of household expenses
    • Proof of joint purchases, especially for household items or
    • Mail addressed to either person or both people at the same address.
  • Conjugal Partners

    Conjugal partners are those who have commanding and over powering circumstances that do not qualify the relationship to be classified as a “Common Law Union”.

    A conjugal relationship is more than a physical relationship. You must demonstrate that you are dependent on each other; in addition you must also demonstrate that the relationship you have with your partner is somewhat permanent and that the level of commitment is as strong as that of a marriage or a common law union.

    You may apply as a conjugal partner if:

    You have maintained a conjugal relationship with your sponsor for at least one year and you have been prevented from living together or marrying because of:

    • An immigration barrier
    • Your marital status (for example, you are married to someone else and living in a country where divorce is not possible) or your sexual orientation (for example, you are in a same-sex relationship and same-sex marriage is not permitted where you live)
    • You can provide evidence there was a reason you could not live together (for example, you were refused long-term stays in each other’s country).

    Reasons why you may not be considered as a conjugal partner:

    • You could have lived together but chose not to. This shows that you did not have the level of commitment required for a conjugal relationship. (For example, one of you may not have wanted to give up a job or a course of study, or your relationship was not yet at the point where you were ready to live together.)
    • You cannot provide evidence there was a reason that kept you from living together. You are engaged to be married. In this case, you should either apply as a spouse once the marriage has taken place or apply as a common-law partner if you have lived together continuously for at least 12 months.
  • Dependent Children

    August 1, 2014, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), formerly known as Citizenship and Immigration Canada CIC, changed the definition of a dependent child. The age limit for a dependent child is now 19 years instead of the former definition of 22 years.

    A son or daughter is dependent when the child:

    • Is under the age of 19 and does not have a spouse or common-law partner
    • Is financially dependent on a parent since before the age of 22 because of a mental or a physical disability

    Relationships that are not eligible under the Family Class

    You cannot be sponsored as a spouse, a common-law partner or a conjugal partner if:

    • You are under 16 years of age
    • You (or your sponsor) were married to someone else at the time of your marriage
    • You have lived apart from your sponsor for at least one year and you (or your sponsor) are the common-law or conjugal partner of another person
    • Your sponsor immigrated to Canada and, at the time they applied for permanent residence, you were a family member who should have been examined to see if you met immigration requirements, but you were not examined
    • Your sponsor previously sponsored another spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner, and three years have not passed since that person became a permanent resident
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