The Canadian government understands that there are a good number of its citizens and permanent residents with loved ones beyond its borders that they wish to bring into the country.

To make this wish a reality, they offer several ways under the Family Class Sponsorship Class through which one can help their family members to immigrate to Canada.

Currently, Canada’s federal government’s commitment to family reunification continues to be one of the solid pillars of its immigration system. That explains why this immigration program is one of the most generous compared to what other developed nations offer.

What is family class? Well, in this guide, we define that and take a detailed look at the requirements, options available, and selection criteria, among other vital details you will find useful in your effort to learn more about the Family Class sponsorship Class.

Family Class Immigration Definition & Requirements

The Family Class Sponsorship Program can simply be described as an immigration program in which a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident, or a registered Indian has the opportunity to help their family member looking to immigrate to Canada to acquire permanent residency.

Before looking at who qualifies as a family member, let’s explore the Canadian immigration sponsorship rules.

Sponsorship Requirements

In addition to having either of the citizenship statuses mentioned, you must meet a few other requirements in order to qualify as a sponsor. That includes:

  • Be over 18 years old
  • Be sponsoring an individual belonging to the family class
  • You, the individual seeking sponsorship, and the Federal government of Canada or Québec must enter an agreement where you consent to support the dependent for a specific period of time and that the sponsored person must strive to support themselves too.
  • Give proof of your intention to live in Canada after the sponsored relative arrives in the country.
  • Prove that you have the capacity to support your family members plus any dependent financially.
  • Not be bankrupt, incarcerated, or facing serious charges in court

Some of the situations that could see you lose your eligibility to be a sponsor include:

  • Being in prison
  • Being under the social assistance program
  • Failure to pay child support
  • Failure to pay back immigration loans
  • Failure to successfully sponsor a family member in the past

To be eligible, the individual seeking sponsorship must be a:

  • Spouse, conjugal, or common-law partner
  • Parent
  • Dependent child
  • Grant parent
  • Grandchild, sibling, niece, or nephew under 18 years, not married, and without parents, i.e. an orphan

Note that the person being sponsored must not be living in Canada unless they are in the country legally under a work or study permit.

Another thing worth mentioning is that when immigrating to Canada, you can bring your family members (only your spouse and dependent child(s)) with you, provided they have obtained permanent residency as your dependents.

That dependents who are not allowed to come with you at this stage include your parents, grandparents, siblings, uncle or aunt, niece or nephew, plus other relatives.  

But once you successfully immigrate to Canada, you can proceed to sponsor them.


What qualifies as a spouse? Here are the categories of people under this option who the Canadian government considers eligible for sponsorship:

  1. Spouse – Your marriage with this person must be legally valid in your country of origin and also under Canadian law
  2. Conjugal Partner – A person you’ve been in a relationship with for at least one year but haven’t been living together due to things like immigration barriers, sexual orientation, religious reasons, and so on. Your relationship should be supported by proof of a life shared together. It could be joint ownership of assets or other possessions, financial support, naming of each other as beneficiaries in insurance policies, and so on.
  3. Common-Law Partner – A person of any gender (same-sex marriages included) who you’ve been living with as a partner for a period of at least 12 months.

Dependent Child

A dependent child can be the sponsor’s child or the spouse’s. On top of that, they must be under 22 years old and not married.

Also, those who’ve been relying on their parents for financial support before they attained 22 years and are unable to support themselves past that age due to a physical or mental condition qualify as dependent children. In the event they have dependent children of their own, you, as the sponsor, must demonstrate your financial capacity to take care of them.

Children in the sole custody of a former spouse also fall under this category. It’s actually compulsory to declare them in your sponsorship application.

Parents and Grant Parents

family class immigration definition

As we mentioned earlier, parents and grandparents can only be sponsored by a Canadian citizen or permanent resident except where the two are living in a state of affliction or misfortune, and there are compelling compassionate and humanitarian reasons to permit their inclusion on the initial application.

You can also make sponsor applications for orphaned relatives who are under 19 years. That includes siblings, grandchild, nieces or nephews.

Available Family Class Sponsorship Programs

The available visa options under this program are based on the dependent in question. They include:

  1.    Spouse or Common Law Partner
  2.    Dependent Child Sponsorship
  3.     Parent and Grandparent Family Class
  4.    Parent and Grandparent Super Visa (allows them to travel to Canada on an extended multi-entry visa that can last up to 10 years. It’s applicable in the event the yearly cap on the number of applications accepted under this program is reached)

Applying for Family Class Immigration in Canada

The processing of applying for the visas under this program will vary based on where the sponsored relative is applying from and where they intend to live in Canada.

If they are outside Canada, the sponsored relative, together with the sponsor, must submit their applications to the Canadian Immigration Case Processing Centre (CPC) in Mississauga, Ontario. If it’s approved, IRCC will forward the sponsored person’s application to the relevant Canadian Immigration office outside Canada.

If within Canada, the sponsored person and the sponsor must submit their application documents to the CPC center in Vegreville, Alberta.

For more information on IRCC officers, check out their website.

Please note that the process is slightly different for those applying to Quebec.

Quebec Requirements

Quebec Province will require you to meet a few other requirements, in addition to those set by the federal government.  If you are a potential sponsor living in Québec, you will be supplied with a letter or email complete with instructions on how to submit a special agreement to the province. If your application is approved by Quebec’s immigration department, it will be forwarded to the IRCC for another approval process.

Processing Times

How long the sponsorship application process takes will largely depend on the Immigration Visa Office, the documents that have been forwarded and the type of person being sponsored. Normally, dependent children and spouses take a relatively shorter time, mostly an average of one month to be processed, while parents and grandparents take up to three years.

In Conclusion

In general, what you’ve learned about Family class immigration in Canada is pretty much the most important information you need to know before you commence your sponsorship application process. Given the regular updates to Canada’s immigration programs, it would be great if you checked out Canada’s immigration website and Quebec’s too more often for any new information and to also learn more about this program.