How to Sponsor a Relative to Canada

05 Mar, 2023

How to Sponsor a Relative to Canada

The most common type of family sponsorship to Canada is for spouses, common-law partners, parents, grandparents and dependent children, but did you know that certain people can also sponsor other relatives to Canada? A unique family sponsorship program allows you to sponsor other family members if you find yourself in Canada without any family and have no immediate relatives you can otherwise sponsor. This program is also known as the “Lonely Canadian” or “Other Relatives” sponsorship.

Who can be a sponsor under the Lonely Canadian program?

The program allows Canadian citizens or permanent residents to sponsor one relative from abroad if they meet all the criteria.

It is intended for those who find themselves in quite exceptional circumstances. They have no immediate family in Canada, and also have no one abroad eligible to be sponsored under the existing family class sponsorship streams.

To be more specific, Canadian citizens or permanent residents may be eligible if they do not have (either in Canada or abroad) any of these:

  • a spouse
  • a common-law partner
  • a dependent child
  • a parent or grandparent who is alive.

This is because the above individuals would fit another family class category where they could potentially be sponsored. Family class sponsorship already exists for parents and grandparents, as well as your spouse or common-law partner and dependent child, including an adopted child.

Therefore, the Canadian citizen or permanent resident must first prove they do not have people in their life who fit any of the the existing family sponsorship programs.

Next, the sponsor must also show they do not have certain close relatives in their extended family already living in Canada as a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. These close relatives include the sponsor’s:

  • adult child
  • brother or sister
  • aunt or uncle
  • niece or nephew
  • grandchild

A potential sponsor who has none of the above is considered “alone in Canada” and therefore eligible for this unique sponsorship program to sponsor another relative. By the way, the family members listed above are only those who are related by blood or adoption, not relatives by marriage.

Family Reunification is a Priority for Canada

The purpose of the Lonely Canadian sponsorship program is for family reunification.

Canada Immigration recognizes that in some cases Canadian permanent residents or citizens may be living alone in Canada, and not have any immediate family members to sponsor. This could be because the person never married or took a partner, or their marriage or common law relationship may have ended. Or perhaps their immediate family members have passed away. They may already tried a temporary resident visa, but that did not meet their needs. In such cases, they may qualify to use this program to sponsor certain family members abroad to come to Canada permanently – one time only.

Requirements to Sponsor a Relative to Canada

To be eligible to sponsor a family member to immigrate as a Permanent Resident under the other relative program Canada, you must meet the basic qualifying factors:

  1. You must be 18 years of age or older
  2. Be a Canadian citizen or Canadian Permanent Resident
  3. Must live in Canada (or plan to return to Canada when your relative immigrates)
  4. Have the minimum necessary income – according to the current Federal Table for Low-Income Cut Offs (LICO)
  5. Be prepared to provide financial support when they arrive
  6. Be willing to financially support your relative for 1o years if necessary
  7. Meet basic needs for yourself and your sponsored family member through other support such as:
  • Food
  • Shelter
  • Clothing
  • Personal requirements
  • Eye and dental care
  • Personal requirements and household supplies
  1. Make sure your relative doesn’t need social assistance

The sponsor will be responsible for the sponsored relative for 10 years from the moment they become a permanent resident of Canada. As with all sponsorship programs, the sponsor must sign a binding sponsorship agreement with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) promising this. It means the sponsored person will not be eligible to collect social assistance from the government within those 10 years – so choose relatives who like to work!  If the person you are sponsoring can support themselves in Canada, great; but if they cannot, you must continue to support your relative financially.

Who cannot sponsor a relative to Canada?

In addition to the specific criteria outlined above, this program also requires the sponsor to meet the same basic eligibility for sponsors as other family sponsorship programs.  

Therefore, you may not be eligible to sponsor a relative to Canada if you:

  • Have declared bankruptcy and haven’t been released from it yet
  • Receive social assistance (other than for being disabled)
  • Have an immigration loan that you haven’t paid, are in default, have late or missed payments
  • Are in prison or jail
  • Are a permanent resident who is outside of Canada
  • Are a permanent resident who doesn’t meet your own residency requirements
  • Previously sponsored another relative and didn’t meet the terms of the sponsorship

Which Relatives Can Be Sponsored?

As a citizen or permanent resident of Canada, you can make a sponsorship application for any relatives to come to Canada under this program as long as you can prove they are related to you by blood or adoption, such as an aunt or cousin. It does not apply to relatives by marriage.

The sponsored person can be any age – there is no age limit.

The person you are sponsoring does not need to be single. This means they can include their own family members (spouse or dependent child) on the sponsorship application. Each would become a permanent resident of Canada as well, but you would need to be able to provide financial support for them too.

The Application

You submit the application online. Once you are approved as a sponsor, the person you are sponsoring will have their permanent residence application assessed and, assuming they are admissible (pass the medical, criminal and security checks) they should be approved. The quality of your application will be an important factor in whether you are asked to submit additional documents or experience delays, and are ultimately approved.