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Family Immigration

Who can become a sponsor

You can sponsor a spouse, common-law or conjugal partner, or dependent child to immigrate to Canada if:

  • • you are a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada.
  • • you are 18 or older.

If you live in Quebec, you must also meet Quebec’s conditions to be a sponsor.

Who you can sponsor

You can sponsor a spouse, common-law or conjugal partner, or child who lives outside Canada under the Family Class.

You can sponsor a spouse or common-law partner who lives in Canada under the Spouse and Common-Law Partner in Canada Class.

Depending on where the person you want to sponsor lives, you will need to use a different application package.

All individuals being sponsored must meet the eligibility requirements.

Your family member must have medical, criminal and background checks. If they have a criminal record or are a risk to Canada’s security, they may not be allowed to enter Canada.

They may have to get a police certificate in their home country. The instruction guides explain medical, criminal and background checks.

Who is not eligible to sponsor

You may not be eligible to be a sponsor if you:

  • • did not meet the terms of a sponsorship agreement in the past,
  • • did not pay alimony or child support even though a court ordered it,
  • • get social assistance for reasons other than being disabled,
  • • were convicted of
  • o an offence of a sexual nature,
  • o a violent crime,
  • o an offence against a relative that resulted in bodily harm or
  • o an attempt or threat to commit any such offences, depending on the details of the case, such as
  • o the type of offence,
  • o how long ago it occurred and
  • o whether a record suspension was issued (see Sponsorship bar for violent crime below),
  • • were sponsored as a spouse, common-law or conjugal partner in the past and became a permanent resident of Canada less than five years ago (see Five-year sponsorship bar below)
  • • did not pay back an immigration loan, made late payments or missed payments,
  • • are in prison or
  • • have declared bankruptcy which has yet to be discharged.


You are a spouse if you are married to your sponsor and your marriage is legal.

If you were married in Canada:

  • • you must have a marriage certificate issued by the province or territory where the marriage took place.
  • If you were married outside Canada:

  • • the marriage must be valid under the law of the country where it took place and under Canadian law, and
  • • the marriage, if performed in an embassy or consulate, must follow the law of the country where it took place, not the country the embassy or consulate represents.

Common-law partner

You are a common-law partner—either of the opposite sex or the same sex—if:

  • • you have been living together in a conjugal relationship for at least one year in an ongoing 12-month period (you are allowed short absences for business travel or family reasons).
  • You will need proof that you and your common-law partner have combined your affairs and set up a household together. This can be in the form of proof of:

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

Conjugal partner

This category is for partners—either of the opposite sex or same sex—in situations beyond their control that keep them from living together so they would count as common-law partners or spouses.

A conjugal relationship is more than a physical relationship. It means you depend on each other, there is some permanence to the relationship, and there is the same level of commitment as a marriage or a common-law partnership.

You may apply as a conjugal partner if:

  • • you have had a conjugal relationship with your sponsor for at least one year and you could not live together or marry because of
  • o an immigration barrier,
  • o your marital status (for example, you are married to someone else and living in a country where divorce is not possible) or
  • o your sexual orientation (for example, you are in a same-sex relationship and same-sex marriage is not permitted where you live) and
  • • you can prove there was a reason you could not live together (for example, you were refused long-term stays in each other’s country).
  • You should not apply as a conjugal partner if:

  • • you could have lived together but chose not to, as this shows that you did not have the level of commitment needed 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 prove 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

    A son or daughter is dependent when the child:

    • • is under age 19 and does not have a spouse or common-law partner, or
    • • is 19 years of age or older and has depended largely on the financial support of a parent since before age 19 because of a physical or mental condition.