Immigrant family together in the kitchen

What is the Family Class Sponsorship Immigration Program?

The Family Class Sponsorship Immigration Program is designed to provide Canadian citizens and permanent residents a means to sponsor close family members for permanent residency in Canada. With permanent resident status in Canada, close relatives can live, study and work here. As with any immigration program, conditions do apply.

The Family Class Sponsorship Immigration Program is known by other variant names as, “Family Immigration”, “Family Class Immigration”, “Family Sponsorship”, “Sponsorship Immigration”, and many more.

With the Family Class Sponsorship Immigration Program, the Canadian government’s intention is to provide a means for qualifying persons and families to be reunited. This is a big plus for families that leave undesirable locations from across he world to immigrate to Canada for a better life.

Firebird Consultants Group recognizes the importance of family reunification and takes pride in assisting Canadians and Permanent Residents with their family members on this journey.

Canada’s Family Class Sponsorship programs are some of the most generous family reunification programs in the developed world.

Requirements for the Family Class Sponsorship Immigration Program

Family Class Sponsorship Immigration Program requires the following:

  • You are at least 18 years old and,
  • You are a Canadian citizen, or
  • You are a permanent resident of Canada, or
  • a person registered in Canada as an Indian under the Canadian Indian Act.
  • For Canadian citizens living outside Canada, you must show that you plan to live in Canada when the person(s) you want to sponsor become a permanent resident.
  • You can prove you are not receiving social assistance for reasons other than a disability.
  • You agree to provide (financially) for the basic needs of your close relative(s) or family members, so they do not use social assistance.
  • The sponsor must undertake a “Sponsorship Agreement and Undertaking” with the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). This agreement is for a set period.
  • You live in any Province or Territory of Canada except Quebec.

Sponsorship Agreement and Undertaking

The “set period” under this agreement and undertaking is dependent on various conditions and requirements. To view these details, please view the web page on the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) website, “Link to: How long am I financially responsible for the family member or relative I sponsor?

The Canadian Government states the following on their website,

The undertaking is a binding contract between sponsors (and co-signers, where applicable) and the IRCC Minister. By signing an IMM 1344, sponsors and co-signers are expected to be able to support the applicant(s) in the event they are unable to be self-supporting. This means ensuring sponsored applicants and accompanying family members are provided with basic requirements (including food, shelter, clothing, necessary goods or services, and health and dental care not already covered) for the duration of the undertaking (R132).

Sponsors (and co-signers, where applicable) also accept the obligation to repay provincial/territorial (P/T) government authorities any social assistance payments made to or on behalf of the sponsored person during the undertaking period.

Applicants promise to make reasonable efforts to provide for their basic requirements and those of their family members.

Please view the referenced website page link for more details about the Sponsorship Agreement and Undertaking.


The application and vetting process to sponsor a family member or close relative is quite involved and must be taken with care and diligence for it to be successful.

Who can you sponsor through Family Class Sponsorship Immigration Program?

You can sponsor the following:

Dependent Child
  • The age limit of a dependent child is 22yrs and under.
  • The dependent does not have a spouse or partner.
  • Exception: Children 22 years old or older will qualify as dependents if,
  • The child must be depended on their parents for financial support since before the age of 22, and
  • The child is unable to support him/herself financially due to a mental or physical condition.
  • The dependent child is not adopted.

To view the full guidelines of sponsoring a Dependent Child, please view this Complete Guide (IMM5289) at the Government of Canada website.

Spouse, Common-Law Partner or Conjugal Partner
  • You must be able to support them financially,
  • you must show they do not and will not need social assistance from the government,
  • and if it is a conjugal partner, he/she must be at least 18 years old.
  • Depending on which of these persons you are sponsoring, requires you to apply through specific sponsoring class programs.

Class: Spouse or Common-Law Partner

Sponsoring a spouse or common-law partner, you can apply through the Family Class Application or under the Spouse or Common-Law Partner in Canada Class application.

When applying, you must specify which class you are using.

You can sponsor a common-law partner (same or opposite gender) if you’ve been living or have lived with your partner for at least 12 consecutive months in a marriage-like relationship.

Class: Conjugal Partner

Immigration Canada’s definition of a “conjugal partner” is the following,

A conjugal relationship is one of some permanence, when individuals are interdependent – financially, socially, emotionally, and physically – when they share household and related responsibilities, and when they have made a serious commitment to one another.

Conjugal does not mean “sexual relations” alone. It indicates that there is a significant degree of attachment between two partners


Sponsoring a conjugal partner, you must apply under the Family Class and you must specify which class you are using.

A conjugal partner is:

  • currently living outside Canada,
  • is in a conjugal relationship, with you, for at least one year, and
  • not living with you, as a couple, because of reasons beyond their control (e.g. immigration barrier, religious reasons, or sexual orientation). This applies to both opposite and same-gender couples.

You can sponsor a conjugal partner when:

  • there is a significant degree of attachment between the two of you, implying not just a physical relationship but a mutually interdependent relationship, and
  • you have been in a genuine (real) relationship for at least 12 months where marriage or cohabitation (living together) has not been possible because of barriers such as sexual orientation, religious faith, etc.

To view the full guidelines to sponsoring a Spouse, Common-Law Partner or Conjugal Partner, please view this Complete Guide (IMM5289) at the Government of Canada website.

Adopted Child

For international adoptions:

  • You must complete the adoption process and the citizenship or immigration process before you may bring your child to live with you in Canada.
  • It is necessary to apply for Citizenship or Immigration (Permanent Residency).
  • The adopted child receives a direct grant of citizenship through the citizenship process.
Parents and Grandparents
  • If your parents or grandparents are related to you by blood or by adoption, you can sponsor them.
  • In case of divorce or separation, you can sponsor your parents’ and your grandparents’ spouses, or conjugal or common-law partners.
  • Brothers, Sisters, or Half Brothers or Sisters ― they are included only if they qualify as dependent children of your parents or grandparents.
  • Your sponsorship can include more than 1 person or couple (i.e. both parents) if you meet the income requirements for all the people you want sponsor and their dependents (spouse, partner, and children).
  • There is a requirement of additional information for the application process which includes medical exams, police certificates and biometrics.

In certain circumstances, you may qualify to sponsor your relative under the “last remaining relative” exception program. This program allows a permanent resident or citizen of Canada to sponsor any relative (related by blood or adoption) regardless of age.

However, the sponsor cannot have the following relatives in Canada:

  • a spouse/common-law partner,
  • a child,
  • parent(s)/grandparent(s),
  • a sibling,
  • a niece/nephew,
  • an aunt/uncle.
  • The sponsor should not have any members of a family class (who could be sponsored) outside of Canada.

As this follows from the above, if you sponsor a relative to come to Canada as a permanent resident, you must support your relative financially.

Orphaned Brother, Sister, Nephew, Niece, or Grandchild

Under specific situations, you can sponsor relatives like a brother, sister, aunt, or uncle only if they meet all these conditions:

  • they are related to you by blood or adoption,
  • both their mother and father died,
  • they are under 18 years of age,
  • they are single (not married or in a common-law or conjugal relationship).

Sponsorship does not apply if:

  • one of their parents is still alive,
  • no one knows where their parents are,
  • their parents abandoned them,
  • someone else other than their parents is taking care of them while one or both their parents are alive,
  • their parent is in jail or otherwise detained.
Other Relatives

It is possible to sponsor one relative who is related by blood or adoption, of any age, if these conditions are met:

  • You do not have a living relative you could sponsor instead such as a spouse, common-law partner, conjugal partner, son or daughter, parent, grandparent, orphaned brother or sister, orphaned nephew or niece, or orphaned grandchild.
  • You do not have any relatives (aunt or uncle or other relatives listed above), who is a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, or a person registered Indian under the Indian Act.
  • If you want to sponsor a relative who has a spouse, partner, or dependent children who will come with them to Canada, you must include them on the same sponsorship application.

Who You Cannot Sponsor

See “Restrictions of the Family Class Sponsorship Immigration Program” below for a list of who you cannot sponsor under this Family Class Sponsorship Program.

Benefits of the Family Class Sponsorship Immigration Program

If the sponsor is ineligible, the applicants in the family class may request Humanitarian and Compassionate consideration to overcome the requirement to have an eligible sponsor.

Depending on the conditions or the circumstances, a sponsor may be able to add more family members to the current application process. All additions are subject to review by the IRCC.

Restrictions of the Family Class Sponsorship Immigration Program

Generally, you cannot sponsor someone if you are a permanent resident living outside Canada. For specific sponsorships, you cannot use the Family Class Sponsorship Immigration Program to sponsor the following:

Sponsoring a marriage partner restriction

IRCC no longer recognizes marriages performed outside of Canada by proxy, telephone, fax, Internet and other forms of marriage where one or both persons were not physically present at the ceremony. For more information, see Operational Bulletin 613.

Spouse, Common-law Partner, Conjugal Partner or Dependent Child restrictions

There are many restrictions and conditions, too many to list here, that prevent using the Family Class Sponsorship Immigration Program to sponsor these relations. You can view the entire guidelines here, Sponsor your spouse, common-law partner, conjugal partner, or dependent child – Complete Guide (IMM 5289)

Parents and Grandparents Sponsorship

You cannot sponsor:

  • your spouse’s parents and grandparents (your in-laws), however, you can be a co-signer on your in-laws’ application,
  • someone who is inadmissible to Canada (this means they are not allowed to come to Canada).

Brother or Sister

For yourself, as a sibling to your brother(s) or sister(s), you cannot sponsor them under the Family Class Sponsorship Immigration Program. However, your siblings can apply for permanent residency as economic class immigrants and receive fifteen additional points under Express Entry.

There are two other ways for brothers and sisters to apply for immigration under the family class. The first option would include dependent children under parents’ sponsorship. In this case, the parent(s) may include their child as a dependent. 

To qualify as a dependent, the sponsored child must meet certain requirements. In some exceptional circumstances, siblings may be sponsored under the orphaned close relative program.


There is no direct sponsorship program for a friend of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.

Alternate option friends of permanent residents or Canadian citizens may apply for a visitor visa, if they are from a non-visa-exempt country. The Visa office will ask to submit a letter of invitation from the friend living in Canada.

The applicant must then send this letter to the Canadian embassy or consulate outside of Canada when they apply for a temporary resident visa.

Countries whose citizens require a visitor visa to enter Canada can be found on Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s website.


You cannot use the Family Class Sponsorship Immigration Program to sponsor a refugee.

Alternate option You may be able to sponsor a refugee through the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program.

You may be able to sponsor refugees from abroad who qualify to come to Canada. Your role as a sponsor will be to support the refugees for the length of the sponsorship; this includes help for housing, clothing, and food, as well as social and emotional support.

Exemptions to the Family Class Sponsorship Immigration Program

Victims of Family Violence (includes children)

This is a service by Immigration Canada to help potential and current immigrants who are currently in Canada and are suffering family abuse or violence by one or more members of the family (includes spouses).

This service provides you the opportunity to obtain a Temporary Residence Permit (TRP) to remain in Canada, which includes your children. There is no fee for this request, and it is possible to renew your TRP because your situation is still ongoing.

This service and opportunity provide victims of family abuse and violence a means to escape the abuse and violence while remaining in Canada.

To view more about this service please see, Immigration options for victims of family violence

What can Firebird Consultants do for your application to the Family Class Sponsorship Immigration Program?

Firebird Consultants will help you with the initial assessment, application preparation and correspondence on your behalf with the federal and/or provincial government until the final decision is made on your application through the Family Class Sponsorship Immigration Program.

If you are looking for a Russian speaking immigration consultant in Vernon, Kelowna, Okanagan, or in Canada to provide immigration support – please contact us for a free assessment.