The most basic requirement to be a sponsor is that you must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, 18 years of age or older and wishes to sponsor your family members.

When it comes to Immigration, the following people are considered your family members:

  1. Your spouse (opposite or same sex)
  2. Your common-law partner (opposite or same sex)
  3. Your conjugal partner (opposite or same sex)
  4. Dependent children
  5. Dependent child of a dependent child
  6. Your parents
  7. Your grandparents
  8. Your adopted children
  9. Your brother, sister, nephew, niece, grandson or granddaughter and be an orphan, under the age of 18 and not married or in a common-law relationship
  10. Your relative if you do not have a spouse, common-law partner, conjugal partner, son, daughter, mother, father, brother, sister, grandfather, grandmother, uncle, aunt, nephew or niece that you could sponsor

Applications from spouses, common-law partners, conjugal partners and dependent children have the highest priority. Other members of family class follow.


Married Couples

If you are married outside of Canada, your marriage must be valid both under the laws of the jurisdiction where it took place and under Canadian federal law. A marriage that is legally recognized at the place where it occurred is usually recognized in Canada. The marriage that are considered invalid for immigration purposes are polygamous marriages, proxy marriages that occur at a foreign mission in Canada or the spouse was under age of 16 when the sponsorship application was submitted to Citizenship and Immigration Canada. These rules apply to same-sex spouse or partner sponsorship as well.

Learn more about Spousal Sponsorship


Common-law relationship

A common-law relationship exists from the day you and your partner have lived together for at least one year. A common-law relationship is legally a de facto relationship, which means that it must be established on the facts based on each case scenario. The following documents can be used as proof of common-law relationship. Please note that not all are necessary to prove the relationship. The list is not exhaustive. Other evidence may be taken into consideration.

  • joint bank accounts and/or credit cards
  • joint ownership of residential property
  • joint residential leases
  • joint rental receipts
  • joint utilities accounts such as electricity, gas or telephone bills
  • joint management of household expenditures
  • evident of joint purchases of household items
  • important documents of both parties show the same address, such as driver’s licenses, insurance policies, etc.
  • evident of children of one or both partners residing with the couple

Learn more about sponsoring a common-law partner


Conjugal relationship

A conjugal partner means a foreign national residing outside of Canada who is in a committed exclusive “marriage-like” relationship with the Canadian sponsor and has been in that relationship for a period of at least one year.
The conjugal sponsorship category was created for exceptional circumstances where foreign nationals and their Canadian or permanent resident sponsors have not been able to live together continuously for one year, usually because of marital status or sexual orientation combined with an immigration barrier. In all other aspects, the couple is similar to a married or a common-law couple.

If you are just engaged to marry a Canadian or permanent resident sponsor does not mean that you are a conjugal partner. Wanting to get married does not prove that have established mutually interdependent conjugal relationship for at least one year. There is no more fiancé(e) category in Canadian immigration. Also, people who are dating or thinking about marrying or living together to “try out” their relationship are not considered in a conjugal relationship as well.

The following information is usually considered when assessing a conjugal relationship:

  • Length of your relationship and the amount of time you spent together: a conjugal relationship builds over a period of time. In general, the conjugal partners must have known each other for more than one year.
  • Reasons why you and your partner have been unable to marry or live together for one year: they can be legal and/or immigration impediments. It is difficult to establish your relationship if you could marry or live together but you just chose not to.
  • How you and your partner have maintained your long-distance relationship: evidence of efforts can be in the form of airline tickets, visas, work permits, study permits, visa denials, denials of recognition of credentials, etc.

Learn more about sponsoring a conjugal partner


How do I know if I can sponsor my spouse or partner?

You may not be eligible to be a sponsor if any one of the following applies to you:

  • you are on social welfare for reasons other than disability
  • you have declared bankruptcy and you have not been discharged from it yet
  • you are in prison
  • you were convicted of a sexual crime, violent crime, assault again family members or relatives or a serious crime that is punishable for at least 10 years jail time
  • you failed to pay court ordered alimony or child support
  • you did not meet the terms of a sponsorship agreement in the past
  • you were sponsored as a spouse or common-law or conjugal partner in the past and became a permanent resident of Canada less than 5 years ago
  • did not pay back an immigration loan, made late payments or missed payments

As a sponsor, you must agree to provide financial support to your spouse or partner for three years from the date they become a permanent resident. Should they go on social welfare during the three-year period of time, you, as the sponsor will be considered in sponsorship default and may not be allowed to sponsor another person.


May I have a co-signer?

Yes, your spouse or common-law partner may help you meet the income requirement by co-signing the sponsorship application. Assistance from other family members will not be considered as a co-signer. The co-signer will be assessed under the same eligibility requirements for the sponsor and will be equally liable if obligations are not performed.


If I live outside Canada, may I sponsor?

Yes, provided you are a Canadian citizen, and you can demonstrate that you will live in Canada when the sponsored person becomes a permanent resident. If you are a permanent resident residing abroad, you may not sponsor from outside of Canada.


What may cause delay or even refusal of my application?

Even though family sponsorship, specifically, spousal sponsorship, common-law sponsorship, conjugal sponsorship and child sponsorship enjoy priority processing, if your case has any of the following issues, your application may be delayed or even refused:

  • medical, security or criminal issues
  • suspected relationship
  • misrepresentation
  • previous removal from Canada
  • inability to support self and family members due to legal obligation or other reasons
  • custody of children of applicant
  • resident status of sponsor in doubt
  • delays in communication
  • delays in background check
  • failed to provide the required documents


What if my spousal/partner sponsorship application is refused?

If your application was filed under the overseas sponsorship category, you can appeal the negative decision to the Immigration Appeal Division (IAD) in Canada within 30 days after you receive the refusal letter. If your application was filed under the inland sponsorship category, you can file an application for leave and judicial review to the Federal Court within 15 days after you receive the refusal letter.

Family sponsorship procedure is not straight forward, and there are overlapping and difference between inland and overseas processing. The requirement of information and documents are overwhelming and complex. It is always recommended to seek professional help to navigate you through the complex procedure and paper work to save you time and headache and increase the chance of success.


Need help with your spousal sponsorship application? Contact Maxcan Immigration in Markham, Ontario. Maxcan serves the Greater Toronto Area.