Marina L. Sedai, B.A., LL.B., Barrister & Solicitor
Sedai Law Office, Immigration and Citizenship Law
Suite 600 – 666 Burrard Street
Vancouver, British Columbia V6C 2X8
T. 604.642.6115; F. 604.909.4859
SERIES: BRINGING YOUR LIFE HOME
Part II: Sponsoring Extended Family Members
“Your connection to Canada never extinguishes. Your Canadian family, community, and business ties give you reasons to be in Canada part time or full time for month, years, or the rest of your life. And if it does not do so now, you know the possibility always exists. But the transition back is complicated. Your life is intricately woven with the lives of many foreign nationals.” This article is Part II of the Series, “Bringing Home Your Life”. Part I, “Sponsoring Your Spouse and Children” was published in the 04 March 2009 edition of The Canadian Expat Association online magazine.
FAMILY CLASS MEMBERS
Not all relatives can be sponsored. Many Canadians and foreign nationals know from public and private sources that relatives, such as fiancés and siblings, have been sponsored in the past; however, they are surprised to learn that the Family Class was redefined in the 2001 Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (“IRPA”) and subsequent Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC”) policy. IRPA also permitted the federal government to enter agreements with provinces, permitting participating provinces to nominate potential immigrants that IRPA and CIC policy excludes or delays.
Under IRPA, “Canadian” is defined to include Canadian citizens and permanent residents. This may mean that Canadian expats can participate in the sponsorship of their in-laws, provided the Canadian expat spouse has become a permanent resident.
Parents and Grandparents
IRPA permits Canadians to sponsor parents and grandparents; however, the CIC’s efforts to balance its mandate against resource constraints have resulted prioritizing that has spouses and children processed first, and parents and grandparents processed last.
The resulting slow processing times can have a grave effect. Between the time that you submit your sponsorship application to the CIC for your parents, and the time a decision is reached on their subsequent permanent residence application, one of them may suffer declining health that could rendered both of them (and their dependents, if any), inadmissible to Canada.
IRPA does not allow you to directly sponsor siblings, except in exceptional circumstances as set out below wherein they are orphaned or you have no other relatives.
However, you can indirectly sponsor siblings insofar as they can be included as dependents on your parent’s sponsored permanent residence application. Your siblings will need to meet the definition of a dependent child on the day the CIC received your completed “IMM1344A Application to Sponsor and Undertaking” form and correct processing fees. A dependent child is defined as:
- less than 22 years old and single (and continues to be single until obtaining permanent residence); or,
- substantially dependent on a parent’s financial support since before the age of 22 because they are a student (marital status irrelevant) or disabled (and continues to be a student or disabled until obtaining permanent residence).
Orphaned Family Member
You can sponsor an orphaned relatives who is less than 18 years old, single, and your legal sibling, nephew or niece, or grandchild. Consents must be obtained from most countries of origin and legal guardians. The process is similar to that of sponsoring an adopted child, which is beyond the scope of this article.
Lonely Canadian Provision
If you are alone in Canada, without a spouse or partner, child, parent, sibling, nephew/niece, grandparent, aunt or uncle who is already a Canadian, or who you could sponsor, then you can sponsor another relative.
Humanitarian & Compassionate Considerations
It is possible to request that the CIC grant permanent residence to an applicant who does not meet the requirements of IRPA, by assessing the humanitarian and compassionate considerations and the best interests of the child, if applicable. How the applicant is related to you may lend to these considerations, but does not in itself determine whether permanent residence will be granted.
The applicant applies using the forms for an existing class (e.g., family) and adds a request for humanitarian and compassionate considerations, along with supporting evidence. These cases require a close examination of potential effects of an approval or denial of permanent residence on the foreign national applicant and dependents, as well as Canadian relatives and society.
CIC’s most recent sponsorship application processing time is 30 months.
Provincial Nominee Program & Quebec Selection
Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta have broad sponsorship programs in which they can nominate a foreign national to the federal government, which processes the permanent resident application.
Relationship: child, sibling, parent, grandparent, aunt/uncle, niece/nephew, or cousin.
Relationship: child, sibling, parent, grandparent, grandchild, aunt/uncle, niece/nephew, cousin, step-family or in-laws of same relationship.
Relationship: child, sibling, parent, aunt/uncle, or niece/nephew.
There are a few catches, though.
First, the foreign national does not qualify just on the basis of the relationship. To ensure each province’s program requirements are met, all parties should study the program carefully and preferably consult with a lawyer.
Second, among other qualifications, the sponsor must be a resident for one year in Manitoba or Saskatchewan, or two years in Alberta.
Third, the foreign national must formally declare an intention to live and work in the province.
Under the Canada-Quebec Immigration Accord, Quebec selects its own immigrants. Sponsored family members must obtain a Quebec Selection Certificate (“CSQ”) from the Quebec Ministère des Relations avec les Citoyens et de l’Immigration (“MRCI”).
Provincial processing times fluctuate considerably, but most recently, nominee application have been taking – very roughly – 14 months in Manitoba or Saskatchewan, and 19 months in Alberta.
FEDERAL SPONSOR REQUIREMENTS
Established in Canada. Whether you are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, you must re-establish yourself in Canada before sponsoring. No exceptions exist for sponsors of extended family members, unlike the exception for Canadian citizens sponsoring spouses or children discussed in Part I of this series.
Qualifying Income. You must meet the annual minimum necessary income, as posted on the CIC website at http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/applications/guides/5196E10.asp:
1 (you): $21,666
You must provide a Notice of Assessment to prove your Canadian income for the most recent taxation year. If it is inadequate, then you can calculate your Canadian income on the 12 months preceding the sponsorship application date.
You must continue to qualify until your sponsored relatives have become permanent residents.
Your spouse or common-law partner may co-sign the sponsorship and undertaking. No one else may co-sign.
Undertaking. As the sponsor of an extended family member, you undertake to provide for the basic requirements of your relative as follows:
- dependent child under age 22 at time permanent residence is granted: until age 25 or 10 years have passed, whichever comes first.
- dependent child age 22 or older at time permanent residence is granted: 3 years.
- all others who are not a spouse or child: 10 years.
If the sponsored person were to receive social assistance during the sponsorship period, you must repay the provincial government, which will pursue the debt.
These prohibitions are the same regardless of the relative you sponsor, and are as per Part I in this series:
- Undischarged bankrupt.
- Default in court ordered payment or payment to government.
- Default in undertaking (i.e., your sponsored relative receives social assistance).
- Sexual or violent offence.
PROVINCIAL SPONSOR FINANCIAL REQUIREMENTS
Manitoba and Saskatchewan requires the Canadian relative to ensuring settlement funds of $10,000 for the principal permanent residence applicant and $2,000 for each dependent.
Alberta uses a more typical sponsorship model, insofar as the Canadian relative must demonstrate 12 months of income or $15,000 is available funds, and commit to a two year undertaking (i.e., financial responsibility for the immigrant’s basic needs).
As per Part I of this series, one may have a perfect permanent residence application, yet still be found inadmissible on the grounds of health, criminality, misrepresentation, organised crime, security, crimes against humanity.
The three most common grounds of inadmissibility for sponsored family members are medical, criminal, and misrepresentation. Misrepresentation is often in conjunction with other grounds of inadmissibility because the applicant has failed to disclose important information, usually relating to health or criminal history.
Medical inadmissible is a great concern for parents and grandparents, whose ailments would be likely to put excessive demand on the Canadian health care system by costing roughly $25,000 over a five year period. The figure is based on per capita health and social services costs that are re-evaluated each year.
Inadmissibility due to misrepresentation not only results from a purposeful lie. When filling out personal and address histories, for example, an applicant frustrated with an inability to recall dates, places, and activities may be tempted to put down convenient answers or estimates. One is strongly advised to ensure precision, and if that is impossible, candidly explain the failure of memory in the application.
Timeline: The CIC has been processing parent or grandparent permanent residence applications in roughly 1-2 years, and “other” family class members in 3-19 months. The posted visa office processing times are historical, and subject to change: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/times/international/menu-perm.asp
Bringing extended family to Canada typically takes one to five years. Therefore, it is crucial to 1) act quickly, so as to avoid the unexpected development of medical or other inadmissibilities; and, 2) take extreme care to submit perfected applications, later supplemented with any changed information, to avoid processing delays.
You are welcomed to ask questions here, and I will be pleased to provide general information. You are also welcomed to contact me directly for case-specific advice. When you do so, I will instruct you as to the documents and information required to ensure we comply with the British Columbia Law Society Rules that require me to identify clients and develop a clear solicitor-client relationship. I look forward to your questions.
© 2009 Marina Lee Sedai. All rights reserved. This article protected by Canadian and international copyright laws. Quoting or paraphrasing this article requires complete citation. Permission granted to The Canadian Expat Association (www.thecanadianexpat.com) to wholly reproduce this article.