Spousal Sponsorship

In Canada you can sponsor your married or common-law spouse. This can be man/woman or same sex relationships. 

There are no income minimum requirement as long as you are not on social assistance.

If you are a citizen or permanent resident of Canada, you can sponsor one of the following to become permanent residents: 

  • spouse,

  • common-law or

  • conjugal partner

If you sponsor a family member to immigrate to Canada, you must provide proof that you can:

  • meet basic needs—such as food, clothing and shelter—for yourself and your family,

  • support your relative financially and

  • make sure your spouse or relative does not need to ask for financial help from the government.

What does it mean “to sponsor”?

When you agree to be a sponsor, you must sign a contract called an undertaking with the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration (or with the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Diversité et de l’Inclusion [MIDI] if you live in Québec).

The undertaking is a promise to provide financial support for your spouse or common-law partner’s basic requirements and those of his or her dependent children.

Basic requirements are:

  • food

  • clothing

  • utilities

  • personal requirements

  • shelter

  • fuel

  • household supplies

This also includes other health care not provided by public health, such as eye and dental care.

The undertaking ensures that these persons and their family members do not have to apply for social assistance. Its length varies according to their age and their relationship to you.

Your obligations as a sponsor begin as soon as the person you are sponsoring and, if applicable, his or her family members arrive in Canada.

Important information: The undertaking is an unconditional promise of support. For example, the granting of Canadian citizenship, divorce, separation or relationship breakdown or moving to another province does not cancel the undertaking. The undertaking also remains in effect even if your financial situation deteriorates.

Sponsoring your spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner

If you are married

You can sponsor the person as your spouse if your marriage is a legally valid civil marriage. If your spouse is of the:

  • opposite sex and your marriage took place outside Canada, the marriage must be valid both under the laws of the jurisdiction where it took place and under Canadian law;

  • same sex, the marriage will be recognized for immigration purposes, where the marriage:

    • was legally performed in Canada, or

    • if performed outside of Canada, the marriage must be legally recognized according to both the law of the place where the marriage occurred and under Canadian law.

If you are in a common-law relationship

You can sponsor the person as your common-law partner

  • regardless of his or her sex, and

  • you are cohabiting in a conjugal relationship and have done so for at least one year.


If you are in conjugal relationship

You can sponsor a conjugal partner if:

  • 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 relationship for at least 12 months where marriage or cohabitation has not been possible due to barriers such as sexual orientation, religious faith, etc.

  • A conjugal partner is a foreign national residing outside Canada who is in a conjugal relationship with a sponsor for at least one year, but could not live with the sponsor as a couple. This term applies to both heterosexual and homosexual couples. This category was established for partners of sponsors who normally would present an application as spouse or common-law partner but cannot due to circumstances beyond their control (e. g., immigration barrier, religious reasons or sexual orientation). Thus, they could not live together for a period of at least one year.

  • In most cases, the foreign partner is also not able to legally marry their sponsor and qualify as a spouse. In all other respects, the couple is similar to a common-law couple or a married couple, meaning they have been in a bona fide (genuine) conjugal relationship for a period of at least one year.

  • However, a significant degree of attachment and mutually interdependence between both partners  must be demonstrated. They must also provide proof of the obstacles or restrictions that prevent cohabitation or marriage.

Family members

Your family members include your spouse or common-law partner, your dependent children and any children that are their dependent children.


Refers to either of the two persons (opposite or same sex) in a marriage legally recognized in the country in which it took place, as well as in Canada.

Proxy, telephone, fax, internet and similar forms of marriage where one or both parties were not physically present are no longer considered as valid spousal relationships under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations. For more information, consult Operational Bulletin 613.

Common-law partner

Refers to a person who is living in a conjugal relationship with another person (opposite or same sex), and has done so continuously for a period of at least one year. A conjugal relationship exists when there is a significant degree of commitment between two people.

This can be shown with evidence that the couple share the same home, support each other financially and emotionally, have children together, or present themselves in public as a couple.

Common-law partners who have been in a conjugal relationship for at least one year but are unable to live together or appear in public together because of legal restrictions in their home country or who have been separated for reasons beyond their control (for example, civil war or armed conflict) may still qualify and should be included on the application.

Dependent children

Refers to the children of the applicant and those of the spouse or common-law partner, if applicable.

They must be:

  • under the age of 19 and not have a spouse or common-law partner, or

  • 19 years of age or older and unable to be financially self-sufficient since before the age of 19 due to a physical or mental condition.

Dependent child of a dependent child

Refers to children of dependent children of the applicant and those of the spouse or common-law partner, if applicable.

Definitions of Dependent children (Types 1 and 2) (This is planned to change in the Spring of 2017 )

Your child or the child of your spouse or common-law partner can be considered a dependent child if that child meets the requirements of type 1 or 2 below:


The child is under the age of 19 and is single (not married and not in a common-law relationship).


The child is 19 years of age or older and has been financially dependent on a parent since before the age of 19 due to a physical or mental condition.

Note: The above requirements must be met on the day the Case Processing Centre receives a complete application. Whether or not they have attained the age of 19, children falling under type 1 must not be married or be involved in a common-law relationship at the time of visa issuance and when they enter Canada.

If I live outside Canada, may I sponsor?

If you are a Canadian citizen, you may sponsor a spouse, a common-law partner or conjugal partner, or a dependent child who has no children of his or her own. However, you must demonstrate that you will live in Canada when the sponsored person becomes a permanent resident.

Note: Permanent residents residing abroad may not sponsor from outside of Canada. Canadian citizens travelling as tourists are not considered to be residing abroad.


Sponsorship eligibility you must…

  • be 18 years of age or older,

  • be a Canadian citizen, Registered Indian or permanent resident,

  • be sponsoring a member of the family Class,

  • live in Canada or provide evidence, if you are a Canadian citizen living outside of Canada, that you will live in Canada once the person you are sponsoring becomes a permanent resident.

  • sign an agreement with your spouse or common-law partner confirming that each of you understands your obligations and responsibilities,

  • sign an undertaking promising to provide for your spouse or common-law partner’s basic requirements and, if applicable, those of his or her dependent children,

  • prove that you have sufficient income to provide basic requirements for your spouse or common-law partner’s dependent children. To do this, you must provide documents showing your financial resources for the past 12 months. This requirement applies only when dependent children who have dependent children of their own are included on the application.

You may NOT sponsor if you…

  • signed an undertaking for a previous spouse or common-law partner and three years have not elapsed since he or she became a permanent resident and,

  • receive social assistance for a reason other than disability,

  • are in default of an undertaking, an immigration loan, a performance bond, or family support payments, For more information. See Defaults below.

  • are an undischarged bankrupt,

  • were convicted of an offence of a sexual nature, a violent criminal offence, an offence against a relative that results in bodily harm or an attempt or threat to commit any such offences—depending on circumstances such as the nature of the offence, how long ago it occurred and whether a pardon was issued
    For more information. See Sponsorship Bar for Violent Crime

  • were previously sponsored as a spouse , common-law or conjugal partner and became a permanent resident of Canada less than 5 years ago,
    For more information. See Five-year Sponsorship Bar

  • are under a removal order,

  • are detained in a penitentiary, jail, reformatory or prison,

  • have already applied to sponsor your current spouse or common-law partner and a decision on your application has not yet been made.


You are not eligible to sponsor if you are in default of a previous undertaking. If you are in default and you submit an application to sponsor, it will be refused and the sponsorship fees that you have paid will not be refunded or applied to subsequent sponsorship applications.

If you are in default of a previous sponsorship undertaking

Relatives you sponsored in the past received social assistance or welfare while the undertaking was valid.

You may not sponsor until you repay the full amount of any social assistance or welfare payment or repay the debt to the satisfaction of the government authority that issued the benefit or ordered you to pay.

If you are in default of an immigration loan

You received a transportation, assistance or Right of Permanent Residence Fee (previously called the Right of Landing Fee) loan and have missed payments or are in arrears.

You may not sponsor until you pay all arrears on your loan. For more information, contact Collection Services at 1-800-667-7301 (in Canada and the United States only).

If you are in default of support payment obligations

You were ordered by a court to make support payments to a spouse or child and have neglected to do so.

You may not sponsor until you resolve the family support matter.

If you are in default of a performance bond

You agreed to pay money to guarantee that an immigrant would fulfill his or her obligations under immigration legislation.

You may not sponsor until you pay the full amount of the bond.

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