Canada Family Visas

The Canadian Government does understand that families wish to be together and immigration is permitted for many members of the family. Some family members – such as spouses and dependent children – can be included on the initial visa application for new immigrants to Canada, while parents, grandparents, and others must be sponsored by Canadian citizens and permanent residents.

Requirements for family immigration

Spouses and Partners

Your spouse or common-law partner can normally be included in your own application for immigration. A common-law partner is defined as a person of any sex (including same-sex partners) who has been living with you as a partner for at least 1 year. Similar information needs to be provided for your partner as for the “Principal Applicant” (yourself) on the visa application form.

Your spouse’s dependent children can also be included on your visa application.

This is normally a straightforward family immigration application to make.

Children

As of August 2014 only dependent children under the age of 19 can be included in your visa application, except in the case of children with certain physical and/or mental disabilities and health conditions, who have no age limit. Previously children up to the age of 22 could be included.

A dependent child is defined as any child under the age of 19 who does not have a spouse or partner, or any child of any age who is financially dependent on you (or your spouse) due to a physical or mental disability or health condition.

If you or your spouse’s dependent children have dependent children of their own, these children can also be included on your visa application.

Parents and Grandparents

In most cases parents cannot be included on the initial visa application, and must instead be sponsored by a permanent resident or citizen, except in rare cases where the parents or grandparents are living in some hardship, and there are compelling humanitarian and compassionate reasons to allow them to be included on the initial application.

Eligibility

In order to sponsor your parents and grandparents to enter Canada as permanent residents you and your parent(s)/grandparent(s) must co-sign a sponsorship agreement, which states:

  • That you will provide them with financial support if necessary – such as if they become unemployed, for a period of between 3 and 10 years. 

  • That your parent(s)/grandparent(s) will take all reasonable measures to support themselves financially.

Restrictions

You may be unable sponsor your parents or grandparents if any of the following conditions apply:

  • You did not abide by the financial support conditions for another relative you sponsored in the past. 

  • You have ever defaulted on a court support order, such as a child support order. 

  • Have ever received benefits/financial support from the Canadian government (except support for a disability) 

  • Have ever been convicted of a violent or sexual offence, or any offence against a relative. 

  • Have ever missed payments, made late payments, or defaulted on an immigration loan. 

  • You are currently in prison. 

  • You are currently declared bankrupt.

Family-Sponsorship Visa

Welcome to the Canadian Family-Sponsorship information page! As a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, you have the right to bring your family members from abroad and have them legally work and live in Canada. In most cases, your sponsorship of family members can eventually lead them to become citizens of Canada.

Age Requirement

Before you can utilize your right to sponsor family members to Canada, you must be at least 18 years old. Anyone under this age cannot file a Canadian family-sponsorship visa application.

Who Can Be Sponsored

Canada is committed to family reunification. As part of their immigration programs, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (the government department that handles all immigration matters) has a specific visa track known as the family sponsorship visa. Canadian citizens or permanent residents can sponsor the following family members:

  • Spouse, Common-law partner, Conjugal partner
  • Dependent children
  • Parents
  • Brothers and sisters
  • Grandparents
  • Grandchildren
  • Other relatives (i.e., an orphaned niece or nephew)

 Each category has its own set of requirements that the sponsor needs to comply with for the family sponsorship visa application to be properly reviewed by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC).

What Does Sponsorship Entail

As a sponsor for the Canadian family sponsorship visa, you are the principal applicant who promises to take care of your family member’s welfare. This also includes his or her economic well-being. If for any reason the family member has to receive government financial assistance, you will be responsible for paying back the money to the Canadian government.

Spousal Sponsorships

In Canadian family sponsorship visas, it is important to demonstrate that the spousal partner is immigrating to Canada because of you and not just because of his or her desire to live and work in the country. Therefore, you will need to prove that your relationship with your spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner is genuine.  Proof of a genuine relationship with your spousal partner can be demonstrated via a marriage certificate and/or the following documentation:

  • Frequent communication, such as  letters, emails and phone calls
  • Photos of you and your partner together
  • Joint agreements, such as a lease agreement and/or bank accounts

Same-Sex Partnerships

Same-sex partners are eligible for sponsorship under the Canadian family sponsorship visa as long as the marriage was legally recognized in the country where it occurred.  This includes same-sex marriages within Canada or outside of the country. It is your responsibility to provide Citizenship and Immigration Canada information about whether or not your same-sex-marriage was legally recognized, as well as when and where it occurred.

Dependent Children

Besides the eligibility of spousal relationships for a Canadian family sponsorship visa, you may also sponsor any dependent children under the age of 22 (even those from a previous marriage or relationship).  However, children under the age of 22 who are in a spousal relationship cannot be sponsored.

You will need to provide proof of your relationship to your dependent children. In addition, the children being sponsored will need to undergo a criminal and medical examination. Dependent children who have a criminal record may be prevented from entering Canada. All medical examinations must go through a physician approved by the Canadian government. If a child has a contagious medical condition, it may be grounds for no-admittance to Canada.

Sponsoring Parents & Grandparents

Canadian permanent residents and citizens are allowed to sponsor their parents and grandparents. According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, over 38,000 applications are received each year for sponsorship of these family members, creating a major backlog and long wait times. In fact, over 165,000 family sponsor visa applications for grandparents and parents are still pending.

 The Canadian government has recently taken action to cut the backlog and reduce the wait times by increasing the number of visas for these family members to 25,000. In addition, the government has introduced the Parent and Grandparent Super Visa, which will be valid for up to 10 years. This multiple-entry visa will allow an applicant to remain in Canada for up to 24 months at a time without the need for renewal of their status. The creation of this visa allows for sponsored parents and grandparents to come into Canada within eight weeks instead of years.

 Of course, you must prove the relationship to your parents and/or grandparents to the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC).  In terms of sponsoring a parent, you will need to provide your birth certificate.  If sponsoring your grandparents, you must not only show your birth certificate, but also the birth certificates of your parents.

Sponsoring Other Relatives

Canadian family-sponsorship visas include the ability to sponsor orphaned relatives, such as a niece, nephew, grandchild, brother, and sister. However, the sponsored orphaned relative must be under the age of 18 and not married or involved in a common-law relationship.  Also, written consent must be obtained from any legal guardian before the child can leave their home country and the ability to provide for the economic well-being of the orphaned child must also be demonstrated.

EEA FAMILY PERMIT

Any EU citizen taking up residence in the UK in accordance with the EU regulations can bring their family with. The EEA family permit or visa is valid for six months. The permit allows the holder to enter and leave the UK as many times as he/she needs to. The Family Permit’s holder can take up employment in the UK.

Without an EEA family permit, entry into the UK can be refused.

After arriving in the UK, it is possible to apply for an EU residence card. This card confirms the person’s right of residence in the UK and is valid for 5 years.

It is not compulsory to apply for a residence card. It will however, make it easier to prove your right to live and work in the UK. Note that extended family members must apply for the residence card.

HOW TO QUALIFY FOR THE EEA FAMILY PERMIT

It is possible to qualify for the EEA Family Permit if you are a family member or an extended family member of an EEA citizen or Swiss national coming to the UK.
It is also possible to qualify if you have a derivative right of residence. If you can make a Surinder Singh application, or have a retained right of residence.
We will briefly discuss each of the routes below.
If the family member of the EU national has been in the UK for more than three months, he will be allowed to remain only if his EU national sponsor has either permanent residence in the U.K or is exercising Treaty Rights (e.g., He/she is in employment, in business, economically self-sufficient or in some case if he/she is studying in the UK or temporarily out of work).
The EEA family member must have full health insurance if he/she is applying on the basis of his sponsor being a student or self-sufficient.

QUALIFYING AS FAMILY MEMBER

In principle, all non-EU members of the family, accompanying or joining the EEA citizen, or Swiss national, to/in the UK can apply for an EEA Family visa or permit.
To qualify as a direct family member, you must be the EEA citizen’s spouse or civil partner, or the child or grandchild under 21 of the EU national or his spouse/civil partner. Dependent parents, grandparents, children or grandchildren over 21 (of the EU national or his spouse) can qualify at any age as long as they can prove to be financially dependant on the EU sponsor.
UK Immigration law regard adopted family members as natural family.

QUALIFYING AS EXTENDED FAMILY MEMBER

It is also possible to apply as an extended family member of the EU national. This will, for example, be an unmarried partner who has been in a durable relationship with the EU (and has in general lived with him/her for at least 2 years), brother, sister, aunt, uncle, cousin or niece.  Except for unmarried partners, all other extended family members have to prove to be or have been dependent on the EU citizen or to be or have been a member of their household. Alternatively, the extended family member has to prove a serious health condition. Furthermore, that he/she rely on the care from the EU citizen. Extended family members must apply for an EU Family Permit or Residence Card to reside legally in the UK.

QUALIFYING WITH SURINDER SINGH ROUTE APPLICATION

If you have lived in another EEA country, with an eligible family member who is a British citizen, you can also apply for an EEA family permit to enter the UK. This is called the ‘Surinder Singh route,’ after the case law that established this precedent.

In short, this route entails the spouse/civil partner/child/stepchild/parent or parent-in-law of a British citizen who has exercised Treaty Rights (as a worker, self-employed, etc.) in another EU State to enter and reside in the U.K under the EU law (rather than under the UK immigration legislation).

You will have to prove that during this time, the other EU state was your main residence.  You will also have to prove that you lived there together and integrated there.

It is not necessary under this route to fulfill the UK minimum income threshold requirement.

It is important to note that you have to fulfil very strict requirements to qualify under the Surinder Singh route. We highly recommend that you speak to one of our consultants for further advice. You can also read this article for more information.

QUALIFYING WITH A DERIVATIVE RIGHT OF RESIDENCE

We highly recommend that you contact us for a consultation under this route. Below are only brief pointers on this immigration route.

It is possible to apply for an EEA Family Permit if you have a derivative right of residence.

You will have a derivative right of residence if you are:

  • The primary carer of an EEA child in the UK, and financially independent.
  • A child of an EEA former worker and you are currently in education in the UK.
  • The primary carer of a child of an EEA former worker. This child is currently in education in the UK.
  • A primary carer of a British child.
  • The primary carer of a British dependent adult; or
  • A child of a primary carer who qualifies through one of these categories.

The Home Office defines the primary carer as someone who has responsibility of the day-to-day care of the person. This includes decision making about education, health, and finance. The primary carer must be a family member or the legal guardian. This person can be the main carer or can share the responsibility with someone else.

You have to fulfil very strict requirements to qualify under this route. We highly recommend that you speak to one of our consultants for more advice.

QUALIFYING WITH A RETAINED RIGHT OF RESIDENCE

We highly recommend that you contact us for a consultation under this route. Below are only brief pointers on this immigration route.

One can apply for an EEA Family Permit if you previously had a right to reside in the UK as the family member of an EEA national who either had a permanent right of residence in the UK or was a worker, student, self-employed person, self-sufficient person or someone looking for work in the UK.

You can receive a Retained Right of Residence in one of the following ways:

  • Your marriage or civil partnership to that person has ended due to a divorce, annulment or dissolution.
  • The person died, and you have lived in the UK for at least one year before their death.
  • You are the child of an EEA national who has died or left the UK. Or you are the child of their spouse or civil partner, or former spouse or civil partner, and you were in education when that person left the UK or died, and you continue to be in education.
  • You are the parent and have custody, of a child who has a retained right of residence because they are in education in the UK.

SPECIFIC REQUIREMENTS IN CASES OF DIVORCES

It is only possible to apply if you were in the UK as the EEA national’s family member on the date the divorce/civil partnership was finalised/ended and one of the following applies;

  • The civil partnership or marriage lasted 3 years before legal proceedings began. The couple lived in the UK for at least 1 year before the divorce, annulment or dissolution was finalised.
  • You have custody of a child of the relevant EEA national.
  • You have access rights to the child of the relevant EEA national. The judge ordered access to the child in the UK, and the child is younger than 18 years of age.
  • You, or a family member, have been a victim of domestic violence during the marriage or civil partnership.
  • Any other particularly difficult circumstances that will justify the retaining right of residence.

You have to fulfil very strict requirements to qualify under this route. We highly recommend that you speak to one of our consultants for more advice.

LENGTH OF STAY AND RIGHT TO WORK WITH THE EEA FAMILY PERMIT

The EEA family permit is valid for a period of six months.

Within the first 6 months of arrival in the UK, the EU National is advised to apply for an EU Residence Card. All non-EU family members should apply at the same time. If their application is approved, they will receive a residence card in the format of a Biometric Resident Permit (BRP).

Non-EU family members’ right to remain in the UK are dependent on the EU family member continuing to exercise Treaty Rights in the UK. He/she must for example be in employment, in business, or be economically self-sufficient.

There are no work restrictions on the holders of an EEA Family Permit.

INDEFINITE LEAVE TO REMAIN IN THE UK AND THE EEA FAMILY PERMIT

After spending five years in the UK, from the first date of entry, with the EEA family visa, it is possible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remainin the UK.

All the family members can lodge this application, including the EU citizen.

It is important though to note that the EU citizen must exercise his/her EU Treaty rights throughout the 5-year period.