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Spouse, Dependent and Family Visas for Canada

Who qualifies for immigration under the Family Class?

Applicants under the Family Class are sponsored for a Canadian Immigrant Visa by a close relative who is either a Canadian citizen or a Canadian permanent resident. The Canadian relative is known as the sponsor. To qualify under the Family Class, an applicant must be related to the Canadian sponsor in one of the following ways:

The applicant must be the sponsor's spouse; common-law or conjugal partner; parent; orphaned brother, sister, nephew, niece, or grandchild - under 19 and unmarried; a child under 19 who is either orphaned or placed with a child welfare authority for adoption and who the sponsor intends to adopt; the sponsor's dependent child; or, if the sponsor has no relative as listed above and no relatives who are Canadian citizens or Canadian permanent residents, one other relative.

Who can be included in a Family Class application?

The spouse or common-law partner and dependent children of the principal Family Class applicant can be included in the application for Canadian permanent residence. All individuals included in the application will be required to pass police and security clearances and medical examinations.

Who qualifies as a "Dependent Child"?

For Canadian Immigration purposes, a "dependent child" means a child who is:

Do the dependents have to accompany the applicant to Canada?

All of the principal Family Class applicant's dependents are required to pass applicable police and security clearances, and medical examinations, whether they are accompanying the principal Family Class applicant or not.

What financial criteria must be satisfied to qualify as a sponsor?

The sponsor must be able to demonstrate the financial ability to provide for the essential needs of the Family Class applicant and dependents (sponsored family members). The financial ability requirements may not apply where the sponsored individual is a spouse and/or one or more dependent children.

What does "Essential Needs" mean?

The sponsor and co-signing spouse (if applicable) have to provide the sponsored family members with food, clothing, shelter and other basic requirements of everyday living. This includes dental and eye care and other health needs not covered by public health services available to Canadian citizens and permanent residents.

The obligation to provide for the essential needs of the sponsored relatives will only arise if the sponsored relatives are unable to provide for these means on their own.

What if the sponsor does not have the required financial ability?

The spouse of the sponsor may act as a co-signor if the sponsor does not have the required financial ability. In such case, the spouses' combined financial abilities will be assessed, and the co-signing spouse will be equally liable in case of default. The co-signing spouse may be a common-law spouse, provided that the common-law couple has been living together for at least one year.

If the combined financial abilities of the sponsor and the co-signing spouse still do not meet the minimum requirements, then the application for sponsorship will be refused.

The foregoing financial requirements may not apply where the individual being sponsored is a spouse and/or one or more dependent children.

What other criteria must the sponsor satisfy?

The sponsor must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident; at least 19 years old; physically reside in Canada (or demonstrate an intention to reside in Canada by the time the sponsored family member lands in Canada); not be in prison; not be bankrupt; and not be under a removal order if a permanent resident.

As a sponsor, what obligations are there to the government?

The sponsor and the sponsor's co-signing spouse (if applicable) are obliged to sign an "Undertaking to Assist a Member of the Family Class" with the Government of Canada. The signed document is a promise to provide for the essential needs of the sponsored family members for a period of 10 years following landing in Canada.

The purpose of this agreement is to ensure that the sponsored family members do not become dependent on Canadian public welfare assistance. The Canadian Government provides the form of agreement.

A similar provincial form is provided for sponsors who reside in Quebec, with the notable difference that the duration of the commitment is only three years in the case of sponsored spouses.

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