Who is your family? A spouse or common-law partner you met online? An orphan you adopted overseas? The parents who supported you for years? Family reunification is a key goal of Canada’s immigration policy. Under current immigration laws, you can sponsor your spouse, common-law or conjugal partner, dependent children, parents and grandparents to become permanent residents.

There are 2 kinds of sponsorship applications: Overseas and In-Canada. While they both have 2 steps, there are key differences in processing times and procedures and appeal rights.

Family is important to Lowe & Company and so we understand your concerns. We can help you bring your family home.

Spousal, Common-Law or Conjugal Partner Sponsorship: Step 1: Sponsor Approval

Step One of the two-step sponsorship process requires the Canadian permanent resident or citizen to be approved as a Sponsor. There is no minimum income threshold requirement, but you cannot currently be bankrupt. The Sponsor must also undertake to provide basic life necessities for your spouse or partner for at least three years and your children for 10 years or more. This becomes a legal responsibility to continue regardless of whether a divorce ensues.

Other factors are considered, as well, including whether you obtained permanent resident status through sponsorship as a spouse, common-law or conjugal partner in the past 5 years, as this would bar your eligibility to sponsor at this time.

Spousal, Common-Law or Conjugal Partner Sponsorship: Step 2: Applicant Approval

Step Two of the two-step sponsorship process requires the spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner to be approved as an Applicant for permanent residence. If married overseas, the marriage must be valid under both foreign and Canadian laws. A common-law partner is someone whom you have a conjugal relationship with and have cohabited with for at least one year. A conjugal partner is someone whom you have a conjugal relationship with for at least one year, but are not able to cohabit due to exceptional circumstances.

The relationship is evaluated on whether it is genuine and must not be entered into primarily for immigration purposes. Besides a marriage certificate or evidence of cohabitation for at least one year, you may be required to provide pictures, letters, telephone bills, e-mails, and other evidence. As we regularly prepare such applications, we can advise you on the supporting evidence that needs to be submitted.

The Applicant also must not be criminally or medically inadmissible. Where there is an issue of inadmissibility, these can sometimes be overcome on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

A successful application will result in conditional permanent resident status for the Applicant. Sponsor and Applicant must co-habitate in a conjugal relationship for a continuous 2 years after the Applicant becomes a permanent resident. Then the conditionality is lifted. Some exceptions to the conditionality exist, including death, abuse, neglect, shared children, or where spouses, common-law partners or conjugal partners have been in such relationship for more than 2 years prior to the initial application.

Spousal, Common-Law or Conjugal Partner Sponsorship: Overseas vs. In-Canada

There are two options for spousal sponsorship: an “overseas” sponsorship or an “in-Canada” sponsorship or . Even if the sponsored spouse or partner is physically in Canada, one can still file an “overseas” sponsorship, and processing is often much faster. Each process has its pros and cons, and every case must be carefully analyzed to determine which procedure is best for your situation. Your physical location does not necessarily dictate which process to take.

Dependent Children

You may also sponsor your natural or adopted dependent children. Dependent children are those under age 19 at the time of application. If they are 19 or over, they may still be considered your dependents. To qualify, they must be financially supported by you since before age 19 and have some physical or mental disability that restricts them from being financially self-supporting.

In certain circumstances where you are a Canadian citizen, your natural or adopted children may already be entitled to citizenship. The next step to take for your children depends on your unique set of circumstances. Discover more information on our Citizenship page or contact us to discuss your options.

Parents and Grandparents

Immigration laws have recently changed so that only 5,000 complete applications to sponsor parents or grandparents will be accepted each year on January 2. While Canadian citizens and permanent residents can sponsor their parents or grandparents, application details are often released only shortly before the program opens and the precious few spaces quickly fill up. Competition is tough and processing times are frequently long.

In the interim, it is also possible to bring parents and grandparents here for long-term visits under the Super Visa program.

Super Visas are 10-year multiple-entry visas that allow parents and grandparents to stay in Canada for a maximum of 2 years for each visit. This includes parents or grandparents from visa-exempt countries, too.

To be eligible, your parent or grandparent must:

  • Prove there is a parent/grandparent relationship
  • Take a specific medical exam to show they are admissible;
  • Obtain valid private medical insurance with at least $100,000 in coverage for hospitalization and repatriation. The insurance must come from a Canadian insurance company.
  • A formal letter of invitation from the Canadian or permanent resident child/grandchild, including a guarantee to provide at least the minimum required financial support. The minimum support, based on Statistic Canada’s low-income-cut-off (revised every February), depends on the number of visiting parents/grandparents.

How We Can Help

Long-distance relationships are stressful enough, without the strain and uncertainty of the immigration process. An unjust refusal can be devastating! At Lowe & Company, we not only try to understand your concerns, but to anticipate your needs and questions. We care for our clients as individuals.

For Canadians sponsoring spouses from China, Russia, India, and some other countries, proving the genuineness of the relationship to Canada Immigration can be especially challenging. In some visa offices, the refusal rate can be up to 50 per cent or more.

While it is tempting to do everything yourself, successfully sponsoring your family involves far more than just filling out forms. There are often other issues to consider throughout the process: medical insurance, coming to Canada before or during your immigration processing, working during immigration processing, children from previous relationships, and more. Lowe & Company can advise you on building a proper immigration plan, prepare a convincing case with supporting documentation, prepare for interviews, search your file if things are going wrong, avoid common pitfalls that may delay your case, and be with you from start to finish.