As beautifully stated in the children's movie Lilo & Stitch, “Ohana means family and family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten”. That sentiment rings true in Canadian immigration law, and forms the basis of the family class immigration program.
The stated intention of the Canadian family class immigration program is to reunite Canadian citizens and permanent residents with close members of the family class. Qualifying members of the family class are defined in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, and include children of the Canadian citizen or permanent resident. This blog article will consider child sponsorship to Canada.
Child Eligibility - Immigration to Canada
In order to be sponsored, children must be within the age limit and must meet the requirements of a “dependent child”:
- The child is under the age of 22 and does not have a spouse or common-law partner; or
- The child is 22 or older and is unable to financially support themselves due to a mental or physical disability, and have depended on their parent(s) for financial support since before they turned 22.
Under family class applications, the dependent child’s age becomes “locked-in” on the date IRCC receives the complete application for permanent residence. This means that the dependent child’s age will not change for administrative processing purposes, even if the processing period is lengthy.
Other than age, all other eligibility requirements must continue to be true throughout the processing period. If the dependent child’s marital status changes during the application processing period, they will become ineligible to immigrate to Canada. Additionally, the dependent child must not be inadmissible to Canada due to a medical condition that poses a risk to Canadian health and safety, or for past criminal offences.
Canadian citizens and permanent residents are eligible to sponsor a child if they meet the following requirements:
- The sponsor is at least 18 years old;
- The sponsor resides in Canada or intends to return to Canada once the dependent child becomes a permanent resident of Canada;
- The sponsor undertakes to provide the sponsored person with basic needs from the day they enter Canada until the end of the specified period, and to repay any social assistance payments received by the sponsored person during the period of the undertaking;
- The sponsor has been a permanent resident or Canadian citizen for more than 5 years;
- The sponsor is able to demonstrate their relationship to the child; and
- The sponsor is not subject to any sponsorship bars.
The undertaking that the sponsor makes is an unconditional promise of support that begins as soon as the sponsored child arrives in Canada. It remains in effect even if the sponsor’s financial situation deteriorates, or if the relationship to the person being sponsored breaks down. The undertaking is a promise to provide financial support and basic requirements for the sponsored child, including:
- Household Supplies;
- Personal Requirements; and
- Health care not provided by public health, such as eye and dental care.
The length of the undertaking for the sponsored child is 10 years from their entry into Canada or until the child turns 25 years old, whichever comes first. For dependent children who are 22 or older, the duration of the undertaking is 3 years.
The sponsor does not need to demonstrate that they meet the minimum necessary income requirements when sponsoring a dependent child, provided the dependent child does not have children of their own. If the dependent child has their own dependent child(ren), the sponsor is then required to demonstrate that they meet the minimum necessary income requirements for the family unit size.
Bars to Sponsorship
In Canada, there are a few situations that will prevent an individual from sponsoring a family member, including dependent children. These bars to sponsorship include the following:
- The sponsor is a permanent resident and is subject to a removal order;
- The sponsor is detained in any penitentiary, jail, reformatory or prison;
- The sponsor was convicted of a sexual offence under the Criminal Code of Canada against any individual and less than 5 years have passed since the completion of the sentence imposed;
- The sponsor was convicted of an offence against a family member causing bodily harm under the Criminal Code of Canada and less than 5 years have passed since the completion of the sentence imposed (see full list of rules here);
- The sponsor is in default of spousal or child support payments ordered by a court, including payments ordered by a court outside of Canada;
- The sponsor is in default of an immigration debt under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act;
- The sponsor is an undischarged bankrupt under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act;
- The sponsor is in receipt of social assistance benefits other than for reasons of disability; or
- The sponsor is in default of a previous sponsorship undertaking.
Sponsoring a Dependent Child in Quebec
The Province of Quebec enforces its own immigration procedures and requirements for family class sponsorship. Prospective sponsors must meet a minimum income requirement, and must sign an undertaking with the Province of Quebec.
Sisu Legal’s primary goal is to create immigration solutions to help families relocate and reunite, including dependent children. If you would like to sponsor your dependent child to come to Canada, we invite you to Schedule a Strategy Session to discuss what options may be available to you.