Everything you need to know about sponsoring your child for immigration to Canada

Julia Hornstein
Published: June 12, 2023

Family class sponsorship enables family members who live in different countries to be reunited and live together in Canada. The program allows Canadian citizens and permanent residents to bring their children from abroad to Canada to become permanent residents.

Sponsor your family for Canadian immigration

Dependent children, whether biological or adopted, can be sponsored to come live in Canada with their parents.

To sponsor your child to come to Canada, you must:

  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • Be a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident living in Canada, intending to return to Canada, or a person registered under the Indian Act of Canada
  • Be able to provide for the basic needs of the dependent child
  • Be able to prove your relationship to your child
  • Not have a criminal record, be in prison, charged with a serious offence, or be bankrupt
  • Not be in default of a previous sponsorship undertaking or be under immigration investigation
  • Not be receiving income assistance, except for reasons of disability

To be eligible for sponsorship, the child must be considered a dependant, meaning they are:

  • The biological or adopted child of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident
  • Are not married or in a common law relationship
  • Are under the age of 22

A child over the age of 22 may qualify as a dependant providing that they meet two requirements:

  • They suffer from a mental or physical condition that prevents them from being able to support themselves
  • They have depended on their parents for financial support since before the age of 22

Dependent children must remain unmarried and not in a common-law relationship for the duration of processing, up until the point of becoming a permanent resident. In addition, a dependent child who is divorced, widowed or whose marriage has been annulled or who is no longer in a common law relationship at the time of the initial receipt of the application is considered to meet the definition of a dependent child.

Relationship between parent and child

A dependent child can either be a biological child or an adopted child of a parent. “Biological” child includes children:

  • Who were born to the parent making the application
  • Who are not genetically related to the parent making the application, but was born to the person who, at the time of the birth of the child, was that parent’s spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner
  • Who were born through the application of assisted human reproduction technologies

A birth certificate or baptismal certificate can serve as proof of a biological relationship.

In the case of human reproductive technologies, documents suitable for establishing a parent-child relationship are birth certificates but also authorized evidence that indicate that the person claiming to be the parent is the birth mother or spouse/common law partner of the mother at the time of the birth. Parents must also show that they used assisted human reproduction technologies.

If the child was born from a surrogacy agreement in a foreign country and the child is legally the child of the sponsor or their spouse or partner in that country, the child may be a “biological child”, if there is also a genetic parent-child relationship.

Lock-in age of dependent children

The age of a dependent child is locked in on the date of receipt of the principal applicant’s complete permanent residence application. A complete permanent residence application contains all of the items in the document checklist for the specific category, which includes proof of payment of the processing fees.

This means that a child who is less than 22 years of age and not a spouse or common law partner at the time of the “age lock-in” continues to be a dependent child even if they turn 22 during the processing of the application, as long as they continue to be unmarried and not in a common law relationship when permanent residence is confirmed.

Custody issues

Applicants who want to sponsor a child who is subject to custody orders must provide proof that they are allowed to remove the children from foreign country they are currently residing in.

The parent or guardian overseas must provide written consent for the child to travel to Canada for the purpose of becoming a permanent resident. If the parent or guardian is unwilling to provide consent, a court order can be acceptable.

As a rule, where no consent is provided by the other parent or legal guardian, the onus is on the applicant to provide evidence that they have sole custody of a dependent and to verify that the other parent or legal guardian does not have custody of the child or any objection to the removal of the child from the foreign country.

If the parents share custody of the child, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) must get written confirmation from the other parent that they have no objection to the child being processed for permanent residence in Canada.

These requirements ensure that sponsorship does not violate any terms of the custodial order or foreign laws. In Canada, the best interest of the child is the only consideration in custody arrangements. Therefore, an IRCC officer must consider all the circumstances of the case and exercise good judgment when deciding whether to process an application to sponsor a dependent child where there is no written confirmation of no objection from the other parent.

Sponsor your family for Canadian immigration

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