Processing family class applicants: Handling changes in circumstances

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by IRCC staff. It is posted on the department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

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If a family member is added to an application during processing

During processing, a principal applicant can add a new family member as a dependant, such as a newborn child or, in the case of a parent or grandparent, a new partner. Or, they may request that a family member originally declared as non-accompanying be included as accompanying.

When a family member added to the application is a dependent child of the sponsor, it is not necessary to re-assess the sponsor’s ability to meet the minimum necessary income (MNI). Under R133(4), a sponsor is exempt from meeting MNI requirements for such family members. Applicable fees must be paid, and the new applicant must pass medical and background checks.

If an applicant has a child after they have been issued a permanent resident visa but before becoming a permanent resident, the processing office can:

  • add the child to the sponsorship
  • collect the applicable processing fee for the child
  • issue instructions for the medical examination to the additional dependant

For the addition of family members who are not described in R133(4) – such as relatives or dependents of parents or grandparents or other relatives – verify that the sponsor continues to meet the MNI for the applicable family size. In such cases, the processing office will determine if low-income cut-off (LICO) – or, for parent and grandparent applications, LICO + 30% – requirements are still met. If the applicable MNI is met, the processing office will contact CPC-M to request that the sponsor add the family member or relative to the undertaking and pay the processing and the right of permanent residence fees. If MNI is not met, refuse the application.

Do not approve the principal applicant and any accompanying dependants on the original application for permanent residence until it has been confirmed that the sponsor is still eligible, all applicants have met the necessary requirements, and any applicable additional fees have been paid.

If a sponsor has given an undertaking to the province of Québec and wishes to add a new family member or change a non-accompanying family member to accompanying, the processing office must advise the Service aux garants et aux candidats à l'immigration division of MIDI.

Change in the principal applicant

A change in principal applicant for a family class sponsorship can only occur in a sponsorship application for a parent or grandparent and their dependent spouse or common law partner. If the principal applicant passes away during processing of the application, an officer is authorized to process the surviving spouse or partner as the principal applicant. To qualify, that person must be a family class member in their own right, i.e. also be the sponsor’s parent or grandparent.

When the surviving spouse or partner is a step-parent or step-grandparent of the sponsor, a processing office may examine the circumstances to determine if granting an exemption from membership in the family class is justified on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

If there is a change in the principal applicant, CPC-M contacts the sponsor to request an updated IMM 1344 (PDF, 589 KB) and IMM 0008 (PDF, 553 KB). No additional fees are required. With the submission of the new application for permanent residence, the lock-in date for determining eligibility of any dependent children remains the date on which IRCC received the original complete sponsorship application package.

Switching categories between spouses, common-law partners and conjugal partners

Conjugal partners, common-law partners and spouses are all specific categories with specific requirements. The onus is on the applicant to indicate what their relationship is to the sponsor, to specify the immigration category and to fulfill the requirements of the category under which they apply.

An officer is not required to automatically re-assess an application based on a different family class marital/conjugal relationship between the applicant and the sponsor than the one identified on the original application.

However, applicants are obliged to inform the Department of any change in their marital/conjugal status before the finalization of their case. For example, an applicant sponsored as a common-law partner (immigrant category FCC) or conjugal partner (FCE) may marry the sponsor. In such cases, a new undertaking is not necessary, but an officer must continue to be satisfied that the relationship meets legal requirements and is genuine.

If an applicant is refused as a common-law or conjugal partner and subsequently marries the sponsor, there is no provision for the original application to be revisited purely on that basis – if the sponsor and applicant wish to pursue an application, they must re-apply and pay new fees under the appropriate category.

Changes in a sponsor’s circumstances

A sponsor's circumstances may change after CPC-M's initial assessment. Officers may issue permanent resident visas to members of the family class only if a sponsorship undertaking is still in effect (R120). When officers believe a reassessment of the sponsor is material to the visa decision, they may ask CPC-M to investigate further.

If CPC-M receives information indicating a change in a sponsor's circumstances that might affect their ability to meet any of the sponsorship requirements in R133, they will inform visa officers.

If a visa officer receives new information suggesting that the sponsor no longer meets the income test, they may request that CPC-M reassess the sponsors' income (R120). CPC-M will request that the sponsor submit additional documents or information as evidence of their income and financial status for the 12-month period preceding the date that the officer receives the new information. A reassessment should be requested only when an applicant has met all other requirements.

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