FAMILY SPONSORSHIP OPTIONS CANADIAN IMMMIGRATION
There are a number of family members that a Canadian Landed Immigrant or Canadian Citizen can sponsor for Canadian Landed Immigrant status. The eligible family members are a spouse, common-law spouse, dependent child, parents and grandparents.
A spouse is someone you are married to. A common-law spouse is someone you have lived with for a minimum of 12 months who is your lover. Opposite sex and same sex couples both qualify under the common-law spouse category. A dependent child is generally a child under 22 years old who has never worked, gone to school continuously and has never married or had a baby.
The general rule is the sponsor must earn enough money each year in income from the sponsor’s job to support the sponsor and the person or persons being sponsored. The government has a special chart called the Low Income Cut-Off chart (“LICO”) that shows the minimum amounts required. Every year the LICO is adjusted and you need to check the new LICO.
The exception to the rule is if a Canadian is sponsoring a spouse. In this case technically no income at all needs to be shown. Technically all that needs to be shown is that the sponsor is not on welfare or unemployment insurance or receiving government assistance. However, it is generally better if the sponsor has at least a job showing some income and some prospects for a prosperous future.
When sponsoring a spouse there are two basic options. The first is the in Canada sponsorship. This option is usually considered when the husband and wife are both living in Canada. This is a two step process. The first step is to show there are some special circumstances as to why the applicant is not living in the applicant’s home country. The applicant must show some special circumstances as to why the applicant should be allowed to remain in Canada to have the application processed. If the government rules there are no special circumstances there is no right of appeal. The application ends here.
The second step is to show the applicant earns enough to support the spouse and that this is a true marriage and not just a marriage for immigration purposes. After the application is filed the government will do a preliminary review of the documents. If the documents are acceptable the government will issue a temporary open work permit allowing the applicant to work for anyone in Canada. Generally the applicant must remain in Canada for the 12-18 months required to have this type of application processed. If the applicant leaves Canada to visit or care for sick relatives, work overseas or travel this could be the end of the application because there is no longer any special reason for the application to be processed in Canada.
The second type of spousal sponsorship application is the regular outside of Canada sponsorship. The applicant is generally living in the home country and the sponsor in Canada. The sponsor files the documents within Canada. The government reviews the documents. If acceptable the government sends out documents to the applicant in the home country. This generally takes approximately the same amount of time of 12-18 months as the within Canada application. The major difference is the appeal rights are better and the applicant can work, travel or visit outside of Canada during the processing period.
There are a number of special exceptions and provisions in Canadian sponsorship law that could help that you should be aware of. A popular and useful exception is the “lonely Canadian immigrant” exception. If you are a Canadian Landed Immigrant or Citizen who is living in Canada who has no other relative in Canada, and no other relative living in the home country or elsewhere who is eligible to be sponsored, you can sponsor a family member who is normally not eligible.
It should be noted that the Federal government is currently emphasizing sponsorship of spouses and has increased the speed of processing of these applications. The Federal government is currently placing less emphasis on the sponsorship of parents and grandparents. The time required to sponsor a parent or grandparent has increased dramatically and can be five years in some cases.
At the same time the Federal government has increased priority to Investor immigration applications. If your parents have business experience and a net worth of $800,000 and can invest $400,000 for five years they should consider this category. These investor applications are being processed in one year or less. Consideration should be given to having your parents make an Investor immigration application rather than a sponsorship application if they wish to immigrate to Canada quickly.
Brian Edward Tadayoshi Tsuji
Canadian Immigration Lawyer
2800 Park Place
666 Burrard Street
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, V6C 2Z7
Tel:(604) 643-6496 Fax:(604) 605-3596