Thinking about building a life in Canada and want to bring your friends along for the adventure? Let’s take a look into the realities of sponsoring friends for immigration and alternative pathways for them to join you in Canada. 

Can I Sponsor A Friend To Come To Canada?

Unfortunately, no. You cannot sponsor a friend to come to Canada. Sponsorship is for close family members like spouses and dependent children. Your friend can visit on a temporary resident visa (TRV) but wouldn’t become a permanent resident. To live and work permanently, they’d need to apply for Canadian immigration themselves, such as through the Express Entry system.

Alternative Immigration Pathways for Friends

On top of the TRV visa, there are also other ways that your friends can use to come to Canada. The most popular immigration stream by far is actually a group of three immigration streams all of which are managed under the Express Entry platform. These immigration streams include:

  • the Federal Skilled Worker Program
  • the Federal Skilled Trades Program
  • the Canadian Experience Class

All of these immigration programs can also be used by a family member of yours who would like to become a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. It is always our advice that the family member who would like to move to Canada first visit you on a visitor visa. That way they can get to know Canada a little bit and they can see whether they like it or not. If they decide they do, they can apply for the sponsorship together with you or they can apply for one of the immigration streams under the Express Entry Program.

Federal Skilled Worker Program

The Federal Skilled Worker Program is intended for a family member or a friend who is highly educated. They need to have a job offer in their profession that they got educated for and they have experience in. These are jobs that are sought after in Canada, so those who apply will need to prove that they can do the job and that they can do it well.

Federal Skilled Trades Program

The second program, the Federal Skilled Trades Program, is intended for all those involved in different trades. So if your friend cannot apply for family class sponsorship, but they were working trades that are sought after in Canada, they can use this stream to apply for immigration, to become Canadian permanent residents. These programs have a short processing time of as little as six months.

Canadian Experience Program

The Canadian Experience Class allows all who have previous work experience in Canada to apply for their permanent residency in this country. This is the most popular stream under the Express Entry program and it allows people from different trades and professions to become permanent residents in Canada. Once in Canada, and once their permanent residency has been approved, they can use sponsorship programs to bring their own eligible family members to this country.

Take A Look At Get Canadian PR after working 1 year in Canada with CEC (Canadian Experience Class):

Who Can I Sponsor: Rules & Eligibility for Sponsoring

As we can already see, only an eligible family member can be brought to Canada to become a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident. Eligible family members include your spouse, dependent children, and other family members who are criminally and medically eligible for permanent residency in Canada. And under some conditions, even your common-law partner can be considered for family class sponsorship. Here is a full list of eligible family members that you can bring to Canada using family sponsorship programs: 

  • Your spouse, common-law partner, or conjugal partner
  • Parents
  • Grandparents
  • Children
  • Other dependents
  • Orphaned brother or sister
  • Nephews and nieces
  • Grandchildren

As you can see, there are no friends on this list. An eligible family member has to be related to you by blood or by adoption. You have to provide financial support during their stay in Canada or, during the undertaking period, and sometimes even longer. Now let’s go and consider the Canadian sponsorship process and what the program actually looks like.

Canadian Sponsorship Process

The Canadian sponsorship process is a lengthy migration process that allows your spouse, common-law partner, dependent children, and more family members to be considered for Canadian immigration. During this process of becoming permanent residents or Canadian citizens, the family class category of immigrants and you will be undergoing specific background checks. These background checks will make sure that you meet the minimum income requirements (MNI – Minimum Necessary Income) for the program. 

So, the first step in making sure that you’re eligible for the sponsorship is checking your income. This way, you can be positive that you can make the first phase of the application. The second phase includes the person that you would like to sponsor applying to become a permanent resident of Canada. During this process even though you offer family sponsorship, the person being sponsored will be checked both criminally and medically for their eligibility to enter Canada. Let’s consider the eligibility criteria in more detail.

Eligibility Requirements for Sponsorship

For you to be considered eligible to sponsor anyone’s arrival to Canada, the following:

Age18 and above
Residency statusPermanent residents or Canadian citizen
Family SponsorshipNot undergoing any at the moment
IncomeShould be able to provide financial support during the undertaking period. Income should be sufficient for the person that you are trying to sponsor to live in Canada or to return to the origin country

The person that you would like to sponsor for Canadian immigration will also need to prove their own eligibility. This includes: 

  •  Their criminal and medical admissibility to Canada. The former includes them not having been convicted in any of the countries they have spent six or more months living in including their current country of residence
  • Undergo a detailed medical examination to ensure that they harbour no pathogens that could endanger the Canadian public. The same goes for all immigration streams to Canada, especially those in skilled trades immigration where they would have to work with people or food items
  • For your common-law partner, you must have lived together for at least one continuous year in a conjugal relationship. 

Processing Times & Delays

Currently, the normal processing time for family class category immigration is anywhere between 8 and 12 months (depending on the location where you are applying).  These times are an estimation, based on historical data and around 80% of applications processed.

When it comes to the processing times and delays with family sponsorship programs, it is important to note that Canadian immigration offices work very hard to bring these times down. 

When it comes to avoiding any delays and extensions to your processing times, there are several things that you can do to ensure a smooth application process: 

  • Make sure that you gather all the necessary documents before the application itself. That way you can submit all the documents at once and avoid any delays when the immigration offices have to wait for your sponsorship application documents to be complete.
  •  You should make sure that all the documents you send are genuine.

Risks & Challenges of Sponsoring

Needless to say, as with any other Canadian immigration pathway, there are certain risks and challenges to family sponsorship as well. First of all, family sponsorship is intended for certain family members only. Using this Canadian immigration stream to bring to Canada anyone who is not related to you by Blood or adoption, can cause a lot of issues. 

By sponsoring someone, you’re promising to financially support them for a set period after they arrive in Canada. This includes food, shelter, and necessities.

What are the risks? 

  • Financial commitment: Sponsoring someone is a long-term financial responsibility. Make sure you can afford it before you commit.
  • Length of sponsorship: You can’t cancel the sponsorship unless the sponsored person leaves Canada.
  • Eligibility requirements: There are limitations on who you can sponsor, such as siblings (exceptional circumstances only) and criminal background checks.

Before you sponsor someone:

  • Read the sponsorship agreement carefully.
  • Understand your financial obligations.
  • Make sure your family member meets the eligibility requirements.

This is a big decision, so take your time and do your research.

Final Thoughts

So, can you sponsor a friend for immigration to Canada? The short answer is no, you cannot sponsor the arrival of your friend to Canada. This is a complex immigration process that has been intended for immigration purposes of family members only. Even in this case, any social assistance issued to your spouse, your conjugal partner, your dependent child, or even your adopted child, will be held against you and you will have to give this money back to Canada. There is no age limit to whom you can sponsor, but you have to be at least 18 years of age and you will need to have sufficient income to meet the basic needs of certain relatives that the program will allow you to bring to Canada.