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Can I bring my family with me to Canada?

Immigrating to Canada can be a great experience for you as it gives you a chance to start over in Canada with many opportunities to grow. Canada provides endless opportunities for you and your family to thrive in a new country, while receiving the perks of being in Canada and prolonging your future. You may have the goal to study or start a different career in Canada. This is great to hear but leaving your family back in your home country might not seem worth it to you or maybe your family might be dependant on you entirely. Leaving your family behind can be a difficult choice to make as you might not get to see them for a long while, but you know the opportunity Canada has to offer you. In this case, you might be thinking if it is possible to bring your family with you to Canada. Well, this depends on many factors from determining if you have dependent children to if your family members are admissible, amongst others. This blog will explore the ability to sponsor different family members and break down the details of dependent children.

What is a Dependent Child?

Dependent children are financially reliant on their parent(s) to take care of their daily needs and their well-being. Immigration and Refugee Protection Act’s Regulation SOR/2002-227 describes a dependent child who,

  • Has one of the following relationships with the parent, namely,
  1. is the biological child of the parent, if the child has not been adopted by a person other than the spouse or common-law partner of the parent, or
  2. is the adopted child of the parent.

IRPA’s definition of a dependent child makes it clear that the biological child of the parent or an adopted child of the parent are the only ones considered to be dependent children. The regulation further sets an age limit on dependent children. Children can be only considered dependent if they are under the age of 22. However, if they are under the age of 22 and are married or in a common-law partnership, they will not be considered dependent children. There is another exception to this lock-in age, where the child can be over the age of 22 if they were financially dependent on their parent(s) before turning 22 and are unable to be self-support themselves due to physical or mental conditions. As a general rule, dependent children can be included in your initial application and can accompany you to Canada.

Dependent children can be either accompanying or non-accompanying to the principal applicant. Accompanying children are the ones coming to Canada with their parents and non-accompanying children are staying behind in their country. Accompanying or non-accompanying dependent children must be named and mentioned in the initial application. Please note that non-dependent children are not required to be included in the application. But, please keep in mind if you do not include your children, even if they are not coming with you or independent, they will never be able to be sponsored by you in the future. It is important to remember the cut-off age for your dependent children and consider based on their situation whether they are dependent or not. There are different lock-in ages and times for dependents based on your program, but 22 years old is the general rule.

Sponsoring Immediate Family Members

Sponsorship is a great way to bring your family members to Canada and reunite with your family. Most newcomers in Canada have intentions to sponsor their family members when they become Permanent Residents. However, it is important to know when you can sponsor your family members. The sponsorship requirements are listed on The Government of Canada website for your reference and further reading.

To be eligible to sponsor your spouse, partner, or child, you must be at least 18 years or older. The first step you should take is to look up the definition of spouse, partner, and child in the IRPA regulation. This should give you an idea of who is considered spouse, partner, or child under Canadian Immigration Law. It is extremely important to meet the definition of family class, as this can present many issues during the application process. A further requirement is that you must be either a Canadian Citizen, a Permanent Resident of Canada, or you must be registered under the Indian Act. Please note that if you are a Canadian Citizen living outside of Canada, you must be able to demonstrate that you will be living in Canada when the family members you sponsor become Permanent Residents. Furthermore, the Government of Canada requires you to prove that you are not receiving any sort of Social Assistance in Canada. There is an exception to this rule, and this is receiving disability benefits. You can still sponsor your spouse, partner, or child if you are receiving disability benefits. As a sponsor, you are required by the Government of Canada to fulfill the basic needs of those members of your family whom you choose to sponsor. Most of the time, there is no income requirement for you to sponsor your spouse, partner, or dependent child. You will however need to show your income if you are sponsoring your dependent child that has dependent children or if you are sponsoring a spouse or partner with dependent children who has dependent children of their own. You will need to refer to the Low-Income Cut-Off (LICO) table to determine the minimum amount of income you need to be making for sponsorship purposes. Below is the LICO chat for 2021 which applies to all provinces other than Quebec: 

Size of Family Unit

Minimum Necessary Income

1 person


2 persons


3 persons


4 persons


5 persons


6 persons


7 persons


For each additional person


It is important to remember that sponsorship applications differ slightly in Quebec. As a brief note, if you are applying for sponsorship in Quebec, you must sign an undertaking to provide financial support to your family members who you have chosen to sponsor starting when they become permanent residents. By signing the undertaking, you are also required to pay back any social assistance provided that your sponsored family members received by the province.

Who Else Can I Sponsor?

Who you can sponsor depends on the relationship you have with the person you intend to sponsor. The Government of Canada website outlines who you can sponsor and who counts as your family members under the family class. Like the sponsorships discussed above, you must be at least 18 years old, be a Canadian Citizen or a Permanent Resident, or be registered under the Canadian Indian Act. Apart from your spouse or dependent child, you can also sponsor your parents and grandparents. You may also sponsor your adopted child and sponsor other relatives. It is important to understand who qualifies as your relatives. According to the IRCC, a relative eligible for sponsorship include an orphaned brother or sister, nephew or niece, or grandchild. It is important that they be related to you by blood or adopted. They must also be under the age of 18 and are not married or in a common-law relationship. You may not sponsor your orphaned brother, sister, nephew, niece, or grandchild if one of their parents is alive, they were abandoned by their parents, their parent is incarcerated, and if they are being taken care of by someone else other than their parents who are still alive. You may also sponsor a relative who is related to you by blood or adoption of any age if you don’t have a living relative you could sponsor, such as spouse, parent, grandparent, orphaned siblings, orphaned nephew or niece, or an orphaned grandchild. The purpose of this exception is to reunite families and ensure newcomers are not alone in Canada and have support.

Can I Sponsor my Parents and Grandparents?

The straightforward answer is yes, you can sponsor your parents and grandparents. Like other sponsorships, your parents and grandparents must be related by either blood or by adoption. You may also choose to include your brothers and sisters in the application, but keep in mind that they must be dependent children. Your parents and grandparents must prove they are eligible to enter Canada, which means they must pass medical exams, provide police certificates, and conduct biometrics. These documents must be authentic for your parents and grandparents to be eligible. Your parents or grandparents may not be eligible for sponsorship if they fail the medical tests or have committed a crime. This can allow the Canadian government to deny your parents or grandparents a visa or Permanent Residency. Please also note that a person can also become inadmissible whilst inside Canada and jeopardize their status. This can occur with serious criminal acts such as driving while impaired. I know what you’re thinking, “DUIs is a serious criminal offence in Canada? It’s not in my home country!” DUIs are considered serious criminality in Canada and is grounds for deportation. Learn more about DUIs in Canada here. Also, note that you cannot sponsor your in-laws, you can however be a co-signer in their application.

Siblings and the Humanitarian and Compassionate Program

You cannot sponsor your siblings unless they are orphans and can be considered dependent. There is a misconception that the sponsor can bring their siblings to Canada under Humanitarian and Compassionate Grounds. This however is not true. You as a sponsor cannot apply on someone else’s behalf for the Humanitarian and Compassionate Program. The person who wants to come to Canada must apply by themselves. The following factors and considered in the Humanitarian and Compassionate assessment: Country of origin, current immigration or citizenship status, links with family members, family violence, victims or survivors of family violence, and family class applicants for Humanitarian and compassionate considerations. Factors related to the country of origin of the applicant include looking at the length of time the applicant resided in the country of origin, the language skills, and the number of remaining family members in the country of origin. Factors related to immigration or citizenship status including looking at the immigration or citizenship status of each member of the family. The applicant’s immigration status will be looked at and the family links will be investigated to determine if they were formed before or after the applicant’s immigration status was lost. Factors related to links with family members will look at the family interest and Canada’s interest. It will also look at the circumstance of all family members and the degree of emotional support from other family members. Family violence also factors in as people who are in abusive relationships who might not be permanent residents or Canadian citizens can apply to protect them from further abuse. Victims or survivors of family violence are often admitted under Humanitarian and Compassionate grounds as they do not have the means to support themselves. They are often marginalized and often afraid to speak out thus have protected status under Humanitarian and Compassionate grounds. Finally, for the family class applicants under H&C, the applicants may apply for H&C to exempt them from having an eligible sponsor in case their sponsors are found to be ineligible. The immigration officers will have to assess whether the applicant could be of any help to the sponsor in Canada and help the sponsor become self-sufficient. 

Final Thoughts

We hope that this blog was a helpful introduction to the process of bringing your family to Canada. As you can see, for each category, several requirements need to be met.

If you have any questions about the process or your eligibility, please reach out to Second Passport and we will be able to guide you as to how best you can reunite with your family here in Canada.

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