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Family Reunification (Spouse/Parents)

July 23, 2019BY Sunil Patel

Family reunification is one of the three pillars of CIC’s immigration program. Canadian immigration policy and legislation have a long tradition of supporting family reunification, which permits both recent immigrants and long-established Canadians to be reunited with members of their family. Under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR), family living abroad may be sponsored as well as spouses or common-law partners living in Canada with their sponsor. Persons who can be sponsored in the family class include the spouse, common-law partner (including same-sex partner), conjugal partner, dependent children, parents, grand-parents, children adopted from abroad, and other relatives in special circumstances.

The Regulations reflect Canada’s commitment to family reunification while recognizing that this must be done with an accountability of the sponsor to honour their obligations in the care and maintenance of new immigrants. Family class immigration involves the assessment of the sponsor and assessment of the principal applicant and their dependents. Sponsors must demonstrate that they have the ability to support the persons they sponsor for a period of between three and twenty years depending on the age and relationship of the person sponsored.

Canadian citizen or Permanent Resident of Canada may be able to sponsor family members to immigrate to Canada as sponsored family members and become Permanent Residents of Canada. The sponsorship process consists of two main stages:

  • Sponsor must be found to be eligible to sponsor a foreign family member
  • Foreign family member should be found to be eligible to immigrate to Canada as a member of family class

If requirements of the sponsorship process are satisfied, Canadian citizen or Permanent Resident of Canada may sponsor the following categories of family members:

  • Spouse of opposite sex or same sex (and dependent children of the spouse)
  • Common-law partner of opposite sex or same sex (and dependent children of the common-law partner)
  • Conjugal Partner of opposite sex or same sex (and dependent children of the conjugal partner)
  • Dependent Children
  • Adopted Children
  • Parents (and their dependent children)
  • Grandparents
  • Orphaned relatives under 18 years of age and not married or in a common-law relationship, such as: brothers or sisters, nephews or nieces, granddaughters or grandsons
  • Another relative, if a Canadian citizen or Permanent Resident of Canada has no living spouse or common-law partner, conjugal partner, a son or daughter, parent, grandparent, sibling, uncle, aunt, nephew or niece who could be sponsored as a member of the family class, and has no relative who is a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident or registered as an Indian under the Indian Act

Spousal, Common-law Partner, and Conjugal Partner Sponsorship

N.B.: Sponsored spouses, common-law partners and conjugal partners, who obtained conditional permanent resident status in Canada on or after 25 October 2012, must remain in a genuine spousal or partner relationship with the spouses or partners that sponsored them for at least two years from the date on which sponsored spouses or partners obtained conditional permanent resident status in Canada. This condition does not apply if, prior to obtaining permanent resident status in Canada, the foreign spouse or common law partner or conjugal partner:

  • had been married to his/her sponsor for more than two years, or
  • had been in a conjugal relationship with his/her sponsor for more than two years, or
  • had cohabited in a common-law relationship with his sponsor for more than two years, or
  • had children in common with his/her sponsor


To sponsor a foreign spouse, the marriage must be legally valid. Opposite sex marriage or same sex marriage that took place outside Canada must be valid both under the laws of the country where marriage took place and under the laws of Canada.


A Foreign common-law partner (of opposite sex or same sex) must have been cohabiting in a conjugal relationship with his/her sponsor for at least one year prior to submitting sponsorship application for foreign common-law partner to immigrate to Canada.


If heterosexual or homosexual couple cannot get married or live together as common-law partners due to circumstances that are beyond their control, they may be recognized as conjugal partners for immigration purposes, provided that their relationship fulfills certain requirements. Prior to submitting a sponsorship application for a foreign conjugal partner to immigrate to Canada, the conjugal partners should:

  • have been in a genuine conjugal relationship for at least 12 months
  • have had a mutually interdependent relationship, with a significant degree of attachment between them

Contact us for details on how to sponsor your family.