What does it mean to sign an undertaking for family class sponsorship?
Canada strives to reunite families as part of its immigration policy and welcomes over 100,000 family class immigrants per year. All family class immigration programs involve a sponsor.
One of the main requirements of family sponsorship is an undertaking. Essentially, an undertaking is a binding contract, signed by the sponsor, that states you are taking on financial responsibility for your spouse, partner, dependent child/children, parent or grandparent.
What does financial responsibility entail?
When you sign an undertaking, that means you are legally responsible for providing food, shelter, clothing, and everyday living needs for the person you are sponsoring. This does not stop until the end of the legal undertaking period, even if the person becomes a Canadian citizen.
Anyone who comes to Canada through family sponsorship has no access to government provided support such as social assistance, disability, or any provincial benefits. If the person you are sponsoring applies for, and receives, money from the provincial or federal government, you will be the person responsible for paying it back.
All permanent residents are entitled to healthcare provided under the provincial healthcare system but if your family member does not have their own private insurance, you are responsible for healthcare not covered by the province such as prescription medications, dental care or eye exams.
Additionally, once you sign an undertaking, there are no circumstances under which you can end your obligation early. If you separate or divorce your partner or spouse or become estranged from the person you signed an undertaking for, you are still considered responsible for them until the undertaking expires. You are also still responsible if you lose your employment or run into financial trouble.
How long is an undertaking?
Undertakings vary in length depending on the program. A spouse or partner requires a three-year undertaking while sponsoring parents or grandparents through the Parents and Grandparents Program (PGP) is 20 years, unless you are in Quebec which is 10 years.
Dependent children under 22 require an undertaking of 10 years, or until they turn 25. Children over 22 have an undertaking of three years.
Cancelling an undertaking
Undertakings cannot be cancelled after the final decision on your application is issued by Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). If you change your mind before you get IRCC’s decision, you can send a letter to the department withdrawing your application.
Are you eligible to be a sponsor?
The eligibility requirements for sponsorship programs are fairly straightforward, and there are slightly different requirements in each program but, in all cases, potential sponsors must be:
- at least 18 years old
- a Canadian citizen, a person registered in Canada as an Indian under the Canadian Indian Act or a permanent resident,
- living in Canada:
- if you are a Canadian citizen living outside Canada, you must show that you plan to live in Canada when your sponsored relative becomes a permanent resident.
- You cannot sponsor someone if you are a permanent resident living outside of Canada.
- able to prove that you are not receiving social assistance for reasons other than a disability, and;
- You must also be able to show that you can provide basic needs for:
- your spouse or partner,
- your spouse or partner’s dependent child(ren) (if applicable)
- your dependent child(ren) (if you are sponsoring only your dependent child).
Minimum necessary income
Part of your eligibility to sponsor under the PGP is the minimum necessary income (MNI). This is proof that you have a high enough income to support yourself, your spouse, and any other dependent family members in addition to your parents or grandparents. The MNI increases with each dependent family member, and you must be able to prove that you have made the MNI for the previous three tax years to be eligible.
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