Details of sponsorship bars for family class applications

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada staff. It is posted on the Department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

For assessing a sponsor for permanent residence family class applications, officers should determine whether a sponsor is subject to one of the following bars.

Five-year sponsorship bar [R130(3)]

A person who became a permanent resident or a Canadian citizen after being sponsored as spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner is barred from sponsoring a spouse or partner within five years of becoming a permanent resident, even if they acquired citizenship during that period. The five years is counted back from the day on which the sponsorship application – as part of a complete application package – is received by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

A sponsor who became a permanent resident or a Canadian citizen after being sponsored as a spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner under subsection 13(1) of the Act may not sponsor a foreign national referred to in subsection (1) as a spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner unless the sponsor has been a permanent resident or a Canadian citizen, or a combination of the two, for a period of at least five years immediately preceding the day on which a sponsorship application referred to in paragraph (1)(c) is filed by the sponsor in respect of the foreign national.

Not described as a family class sponsor in R130(1)[R133(1)(a)]

The sponsor is under 18 years of age, does not reside in Canada or has failed to submit a sponsorship application in accordance with R10(6).

The requirement to reside in Canada does not apply to Canadian citizen sponsors who sponsor their spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner or dependent child who has no dependent children and who will live in Canada once the sponsored person becomes a permanent resident.

A permanent resident subject to a removal order [R133(1)(c)]

Includes stayed orders, departure orders, exclusion orders and deportation orders.

Exception: Persons whose removal order became void when they became a permanent resident. [A51].

Detained in any penitentiary, jail, reformatory or prison [R133(1)(d)]

Exception: Persons on parole, on probation or serving a suspended sentence.

Convicted of offences outlined in [R133(1)(e)(i)], [R133(1)(e)(i.1)], and [R133(1)(e)(ii)]

These offences are:

  • an offence of a sexual nature – or an attempt or threat to commit such an offence – against any person [R133(1)(e)(i)]
  • an indictable offence involving the use of violence and punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of at least 10 years against any person [R133(1)(e)(i.1)]
  • an offence causing bodily harm against any of the following [R133(1)(e)(ii)]:
    • a current or former family member
    • a relative, or a current or former family member of that relative
    • a family member’s relative, or a current or former family member of that relative
    • a current or former conjugal partner
    • a family member’s or conjugal partner’s current or former family member
    • a conjugal partner’s relative, or a current or former family member of that relative
    • a child currently or formerly under the care of the sponsor, or the sponsor’s current or former family member or conjugal partner
    • a person the sponsor is dating or has dated, or a family member of that person

Where five years have not passed since the completion of the sentence imposed, a person cannot sponsor or co-sign unless:

  • they have been pardoned or finally acquitted (for convictions in Canada)
  • they have shown, at least five years after the expiry of the sentence, that they have been rehabilitated, or there has been a final acquittal (for convictions outside Canada)

In calculating the five-year period, a sentence includes probation, suspended sentences and intermittent sentences.

Exception: Persons with convictions for which they have received conditional or absolute discharges.

See sponsorship bar for violence against any person for a list of Criminal Code offences

Offences under the Criminal Code which could equate to offences of a sexual nature [R133(1)(e)(i)]

The following list of offences in the Criminal Code can be considered to be offences of a sexual nature.

Note: This list is not exhaustive. On a case-by-case basis, the Case Processing Centre (CPC) must be satisfied that the circumstances of an offence fit the applicable offence. As a general rule, if an officer is not certain that an offence is described in the Criminal Code, they can apply R133(1)(e)(i) in the spirit that it was intended, i.e. to prevent sexual offenders from sponsoring family members.

Descriptions of sexual nature offences

Criminal Code section Description
151 Sexual interference
152 Invitation to sexual touching
153 Sexual exploitation
153.1 Sexual exploitation of a person with a disability
155 Incest
160(3) Bestiality in presence of or by a child
163.1 Child pornography
171 Householder permitting sexual activity
172 Corrupting children
172.1 Luring a child
173 Indecent acts and exposure to children
179 Parent or guardian procuring their child under 18 for sexual activity
271 Sexual assault
272 Sexual assault with a weapon, threats to a third party or causing bodily harm
273 Aggravated sexual assault
273.3 Removal of child from Canada for purpose of a sexual act

Offences under the Criminal Code concerning violence against any person [R133(1)(e)(i.1)]

Anyone convicted of an indictable offence involving the use of violence punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of at least 10 years or an attempt to commit such an offence against any person cannot sponsor a family member.

The Department of Justice recognizes that the term “family violence” includes many different forms of abuse that adults or children may experience in their intimate, kinship or dependent relationships. Family violence is against the law in Canada. Although the Criminal Code does not have a specific “family violence offence,” an abuser can be charged with an applicable offence. The CPC needs to ensure that they have sufficient information concerning an offence in order to make a fact-based determination whether a sponsorship bar for family violence applies.

Note: Offences against a family member for which a conviction is entered after the person has ceased to be a family member (such as after a divorce) remain convictions against a family member.

The following list of offences can be considered to be offences related to family violence. This list is not exhaustive – on a case-by-case basis, the CPC must be satisfied that the circumstances of an offence fit the applicable offence. As a general rule, if an officer is not certain that an offence is described in the Criminal Code, they can apply R133(1)(e)(i.1) and R133(1)(e)(ii) in the spirit that they were intended, i.e. to prevent family violence offenders from sponsoring family members.

Descriptions of violent offences

Criminal Code section Description
76 Hijacking
81 Using explosives
85 Use of a firearm or imitation during commission of an offence
215 Duty of persons to provide necessaries
218 Child abandonment
219 Criminal negligence
220 Criminal negligence causing death
221 Causing bodily harm by criminal negligence
229 Murder
230 Murder in commission of offences
233 Infanticide
236 Manslaughter
238 Killing an unborn child in the act of birth
239 Attempt to commit murder
240 Accessory after the fact to murder
241 Counselling or aiding suicide
243 Concealing the body of a child
244 Causing bodily harm with intent - firearm
244.1 Causing bodily harm with intent - air gun or pistol
245 Administering a noxious thing
264 Criminal harassment (sometimes called “stalking”)
264.1 Uttering threats
266 Assault
267 Assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm
268 Aggravated assault
269 Unlawfully causing bodily harm
269.1 Torture
279(1) Kidnapping
279(2) Forcible confinement
280 Abduction of a person under 16 years of age
281 Abduction of a person under 14 years of age
423 Intimidation

Offences under the Criminal Code concerning inflicting bodily harm [R133(1)(e)(ii)]

The Criminal Code of Canada enforces a range of offences that involve bodily harm or an attempt or threat of bodily harm. A person cannot sponsor a family member if they have been convicted of an offence – or an attempt or threat to commit such an offence against any of the persons described in the following table:

Subsection of 133(1)(e)(ii) Examples of Relationships
(A)
A current or former family member of the sponsor.
  • the sponsor’s spouse or common-law partner and their children
  • the sponsor’s ex-spouse or common-law partner and their children
  • the sponsor’s children
(B)
A relative of the sponsor.

A current or former family member of that relative.
  • the sponsor’s parent/grandparent, child/grandchild, sibling, niece/nephew, aunt/uncle or cousin
  • the spouse or common-law partner and children of the sponsor’s parent/grandparent, child/grandchild, sibling, niece/nephew, aunt/uncle or cousin of the sponsor
  • the ex-spouse or ex-common-law partner (and their children) of the sponsor’s parent/grandparent, child/grandchild, sibling, niece/nephew, aunt/uncle or cousin
(C)
A relative of the family member of the sponsor.

A current or former family member of that relative.
  • the parent/grandparent, child/grandchild, sibling, niece/nephew, aunt/uncle or cousin of the sponsor’s spouse/common-law partner or children
  • the spouse or common-law partner and children of the parent/grandparent, child/grandchild, sibling, niece/nephew, aunt/uncle, cousin of the sponsor’s spouse/common-law partner or children
  • the ex-spouse or ex-common-law partner (and their children) of the parent/grandparent, child/grandchild, sibling, niece/nephew, aunt/uncle, cousin of the sponsor’s spouse/common-law partner or children
(D)
A current or former conjugal partner of the sponsor.
  • the sponsor’s conjugal partner
  • the sponsor’s ex-conjugal partner
(E)
A current or former family member of a family member or conjugal partner of the sponsor.
  • the spouse or common-law partner or children of the sponsor’s child
  • the ex-spouse or common-law partner and children of the sponsor’s spouse, partner or child
(F)
A relative of the conjugal partner of the sponsor.

A current or former family member of that relative.
  • the parent/grandparent, child/grandchild, sibling, niece/nephew, aunt/uncle or cousin of the sponsor’s conjugal partner
  • the spouse/common-law partner (and their children) of the parent/grandparent, child/grandchild, sibling, niece/nephew, aunt/uncle or cousin of the sponsor’s conjugal partner
  • the ex-spouse/common-law partner (and their children) of the parent/grandparent, child/grandchild, sibling, niece/nephew, aunt/uncle or cousin of the sponsor’s conjugal partner
(G)
A child under the current or former care and control of the sponsor, their current or former family member or conjugal partner.
  • a foster child who is or was cared for by either of the following:
    • the sponsor
    • the sponsor’s spouse/partner, ex-spouse/partner or children
(H)
A child under the current or former care and control of a relative of the sponsor or a current or former family member of that relative.
  • a foster child who is or was cared for by:
    • the sponsor’s parent/grandparent, child/grandchild, sibling, aunt/uncle or cousin
    • the spouse/partner or ex-spouse/partner (and their children) of the sponsor’s parent/grandparent, child/grandchild, sibling, aunt/uncle or cousin
(I)
A person the sponsor is dating or has dated, whether or not they have lived together.

A family member of that person.
  • current or ex-boyfriend/girlfriend, their spouse or common-law partner and their dependent children

R133(1)(e)(ii) is intended to address a very broad range of family members and persons who are part of their extended family, past and present, in order to protect foreign nationals from family violence and abuse. “Bodily harm” is defined in section 2 of the Criminal Code to mean “any hurt or injury to a person that interferes with the health or comfort of the person and that is more than merely transient or trifling in nature.”

Convicted outside Canada of an offence that, if committed in Canada, would constitute an offence referred to in R133(1)(e) [R133(1)(f)]

See more at Convicted of offences outlined in [R133(1)(e)(i)], [R133(1)(e)(i.1)], and [R133(1)(e)(ii)].

In default of a family class sponsorship undertaking [R133(1)(g)(i)]

Persons who previously sponsored family members who received social assistance during the validity period of an undertaking are deemed to have defaulted. Provincial/territorial (P/T) authorities will seek to recover the amount of money paid in social assistance from the sponsor, who is ineligible to sponsor any other member of the family class until this debt is repaid.

Sponsors must demonstrate that they have repaid any debts to, or otherwise resolved the matter to the satisfaction of the respective P/T authorities before they can be eligible to sponsor.

Exception: This bar does not apply to sponsors in Quebec [R137(c)], but the province of Quebec may impose similar rules.

In default of spousal or child support payments ordered by a court within or outside Canada [R133(1)(g)(ii)]

Persons in default of a court-ordered obligation to pay support are not eligible to sponsor.

A person who is unable or unwilling to live up to current family-related legal financial obligations is likely a risk for honouring a future family-related financial commitment.

Sponsors must demonstrate that they have fully resolved any matter with the appropriate Family Court authorities before they can be eligible to sponsor. For example, a sponsor who provides evidence of a (re)payment plan acceptable to both the applicable authorities and the affected children or former spouse remains ineligible.

Exception: This bar does not apply to sponsors in Quebec [R137(c)], but the province of Quebec may impose similar rules.

In default of a debt owed under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act [R133(1)(h)]

An immigration debt includes:

  • an admissibility loan
  • an assistance loan
  • a transportation loan
  • a Right of Permanent Resident Fee (RPRF) loan
  • a deposit or guarantee of performance of an obligation
  • costs incurred to remove a foreign national

Sponsors must demonstrate that they have paid any debts to IRCC in full before they can be eligible to sponsor.

An undischarged bankrupt under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act [R133(1)(i)]

The property of the bankrupt is placed in the hands of a trustee, who works out an arrangement with creditors.

  • For first-time bankrupts: A discharge is automatically 9 months from the date of bankruptcy, unless a stakeholder objects to this discharge for reasons such as the bankrupt failed to live up to their obligations.
  • In other cases, a bankrupt can apply for a discharge by a court, after 9 months (or earlier, in limited circumstances). Courts can decide not to discharge, but public policy is to discharge as quickly as possible within the limits of the law.
  • Except for incorrigible bankrupts, the practice is to discharge without imposing conditions.

A discharge on conditions or a suspended or delayed discharge is not an absolute discharge under R133(1)(i). Courts may also apply a combination of delay and conditions.

At this time, a bankruptcy discharge will also discharge a previous sponsorship debt.

Exception: This bar does not apply to sponsors in Quebec [R137(c)].

Failure to meet minimum necessary income requirements [R133(1)(j)]

Does not have sufficient income to provide for the basic needs of the total number of persons they are responsible for.

In receipt of social assistance other than for reasons of disability [R133(1)(k)]

Since receipt of social assistance demonstrates an inability to provide for one’s own basic requirements, the recipient would be unable to support other family members, including spouses, common-law or conjugal partners and dependent children.

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