Family class: The application process

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.

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Processing goals

The intent of the family class immigration program is to reunite Canadian citizens and permanent residents with close family members. By undertaking to support sponsored members of the family class, the sponsor promises that, for a specified duration, they will provide for the basic needs of their family members so they do not have to rely on social assistance.

Sponsorship applications involving spouses, common-law or conjugal partners and dependent children are given priority.

Sponsorship applications involving adopted children, children to be adopted and orphans are also given priority, as they often involve minors without parental care. See more Adoptions (PDF, 474 KB).

There are no processing priorities for other members of the family class.

All family class applications for permanent residence are submitted at the same time as the sponsorship application to a Case Processing Centre (CPC) in Canada. CPCs are the primary offices responsible for processing family class sponsorship applications. Some family class eligibility determinations may be made at other Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) offices where required.

Check processing times for applications for members of the family class.

Sponsorship agreement and undertaking

There are two types of sponsorship undertakings:

  1. federal undertakings submitted to the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) by sponsors who reside outside Quebec
  2. provincial undertakings (“engagements”) submitted to the Quebec Ministry of Diversity and Inclusion (MIDI) by sponsors who reside – or who intend to reside – in Quebec

Undertaking to the Minister

The undertaking is a binding contract between sponsors (and co-signers, where applicable) and the IRCC Minister. By signing an IMM 1344, sponsors and co-signers are expected to be able to support the applicant(s) in the event they are unable to be self-supporting. This means ensuring sponsored applicants and accompanying family members are provided with basic requirements (including food, shelter, clothing, necessary goods or services, and health and dental care not already covered) for the duration of the undertaking (R132).

Sponsors (and co-signers, where applicable) also accept the obligation to repay provincial/territorial (P/T) government authorities any social assistance payments made to or on behalf of the sponsored person during the undertaking period.

Applicants promise to make reasonable efforts to provide for their basic requirements and those of their family members.

The IMM 1344 contains detailed information outlining the obligations that sponsors (and co-signers) are assuming, and includes an explanation, and the consequences of sponsorship default. By signing the form, the sponsor and the principal applicant acknowledge they understand what the undertaking entails.

The IMM 1344 lists basic requirements as:

  • food
  • clothing
  • shelter
  • fuel
  • utilities
  • household supplies
  • personal requirements
  • other goods and services, including:
    • dental care
    • eye care
    • other health needs not provided by public health care

A change in circumstances – such as marital breakdown, separation, divorce, family rifts, unemployment, change in financial circumstances or death of the principal applicant in cases in which there are accompanying family members – does not nullify the undertaking. Once the sponsored family member becomes a permanent resident, sponsors and co-signers remain obligated to provide basic requirements for the full period of the undertaking.

Sponsor (and co-signers) and applicants are bound by their obligations after signing the agreement. They cannot withdraw the agreement unless the entire undertaking is withdrawn prior to the sponsored applicant becoming a permanent resident.

Who signs the IMM 1344 form

The IMM 1344 must be signed by the sponsor, the co-signer (if applicable) and the family member being sponsored. A parent may sign on behalf of a minor child principal applicant who is too young to sign themselves. An individual with power of attorney may sign on behalf of a client for whom they have signing authority, such as a person with diminished physical or mental capacity – in such cases, that individual must provide a copy of a legal document to prove that they have been duly appointed.

Amending the sponsorship agreement: Reporting change in circumstances

By signing an undertaking, the sponsor agrees to support the sponsored persons and their family members during the period of the undertaking. They agree to provide basic requirements: food, clothing, shelter, fuel, utilities, household supplies, personal requirements and other goods and services, including dental care, eye care and other health needs not provided by public health care to the sponsored person. At the same time, the sponsored person agrees to make reasonable efforts to provide for their basic requirements and those of their family members.

They also agree to notify IRCC in writing of any changes to information provided in the application, such as:

  • changes in the sponsor or applicant’s personal circumstances, such as:
    • birth or adoption of a child
    • death of a family member
    • marriage or divorce, death of a family member, a marriage or a divorce
  • change of contact information (e-mail, mailing address, telephone number)
  • appointment or change of immigration representative or designated individual
  • decision to withdraw the sponsorship (or the withdrawal of a co-signer, if applicable)
  • addition of a new family member to the application for permanent residence

If a change of information is received during processing of the application for permanent residence, the processing office will advise the CPC. The CPC will contact the sponsor, if necessary. For the addition of a new family member, they will instruct the sponsor and applicant to submit additional forms and supporting documents required to reassess sponsorship eligibility.

Quebec-only sponsorship agreement

Sponsors (and co-signers) who reside outside Quebec and most sponsored principal applicants must sign an agreement that confirms their understanding of their mutual obligations and responsibilities. The only principal applicants not required to sign the agreement are those under 22 years of age who are not the sponsor’s spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner [R132(4)]. Where the principal applicant being sponsored is a minor, their parent or guardian should sign the undertaking on their behalf.

Family class sponsorship application forms and guides

Family class sponsorship application forms
Form Form Number
Generic Application Form for Canada IMM 0008
Additional Dependants / Declaration IMM 0008DEP
Financial Evaluation IMM 1283
Application to Sponsor, Sponsorship Agreement and Undertaking IMM 1344
Document Checklist – Adopted Children or Other Relatives IMM 5287
Additional Family Information IMM 5406
Statutory Declaration of a Common-law Union IMM 5409
Authority to Release Personal Information to a Designated Individual IMM 5475
Use of a Representative (if applicable) IMM 5476
Sponsorship Evaluation and Relationship Questionnaire IMM 5532
Document Checklist – Dependent Child IMM 5534
Document Checklist – Spouse (including dependent children of spouse) IMM 5533
Document Checklist – Common-law Partner (including dependent children) IMM 5589
Separation Declaration for Minors Traveling to Canada IMM 5604
Document Checklist – Conjugal Partner (including dependent children) IMM 5629
Schedule A – Background/Declaration IMM 5669
Income Sources for the Sponsorship of Parents and Grandparents (2018) IMM 5748
Financial Evaluation for Parents and Grandparents Sponsorship IMM 5768
Document Checklist – Parents and Grandparents IMM 5771
Medical Condition Statement (required if the principal applicant is an adopted child, a child to be adopted or an orphaned relative under 18 years of age) Medical Condition Statement

See family class sponsorship forms for the most up-to-date list.

Family class sponsorship application guides
Guide Form Number
Sponsorship of adopted children and other relatives – The sponsor’s guide IMM 5196
Complete guide: Sponsor your spouse, partner or child IMM 5289
Basic guide: Sponsor your spouse, partner or child IMM 5525
Guide: Application to sponsor parents and grandparents IMM 5772
Note: If a parent is sponsoring two or more dependent children, they must submit two separate sponsorship applications – they cannot list more than one child on the same sponsorship application form. Each child is considered to be a principal applicant and must complete an IMM 0008 Generic Application form for Canada. For more information, see the checklist to sponsor a dependent child.
Note: If a person is sponsoring their parents and their grandparents, a sponsorship application must be completed for the sponsor’s parents and another for the sponsor’s grandparents. If a person is sponsoring parents or grandparents who are divorced, a separate application must be submitted for each parent or grandparent.

When does a family class application exist?

For all family class categories, except parents and grandparents, the following forms must be completed by the sponsor and/or family class members being sponsored and submitted directly to the CPC:

  • Application to Sponsor, Sponsorship Agreement and Undertaking (IMM 1344)
  • Generic Application Form for Canada (IMM 0008GEN)
  • Additional Dependants/Declaration (IMM 0008DEP), if applicable
  • Sponsorship Evaluation (IMM 5481)
  • Statutory Declaration of Common-law Union (IMM 5409), if applicable
  • Relationship Information and Sponsorship Evaluation (IMM 5532), if applicable
  • Schedule A – Background/Declaration (IMM 5669)
  • Police certificates for persons 18 or older
  • Additional Family Information (IMM 5406), if applicable
  • Use of a Representative (IMM 5476), if applicable
  • Authority to Release Personal Information to a Designated Individual (IMM 5475), if applicable
  • Proof of payment of fees

For parents and grandparents, the following forms must be completed by the sponsor and/or family class members being sponsored and submitted directly to the CPC:

  • Application to Sponsor, Sponsorship Agreement and Undertaking (IMM 1344)
  • Generic Application Form for Canada (IMM 0008GEN)
  • Additional Dependants/Declaration (IMM 0008DEP), if applicable
  • Financial Evaluation for Parents and Grandparents Sponsorship (IMM 5768)
  • Income Sources for the Sponsorship of Parents and Grandparents (IMM 5516), if applicable
  • Statutory Declaration of Common-law Union (IMM 5409), if applicable
  • Schedule A – Background/Declaration (IMM 5669)
  • Police certificates for persons 18 or older
  • Additional Family Information (IMM 5406)
  • Use of a Representative (IMM 5476), if applicable
  • Authority to Release Personal Information to a Designated Individual (IMM 5475), if applicable
  • Proof of payment of fees

All forms must be properly completed and signed. If any of the required forms or supporting documents are missing, the CPC will return the application to the sponsor on the grounds that it is incomplete.

Roles and responsibilities of sponsors (all categories)

Sponsors are expected to read instructions and information provided in the application guide (see Family Class Application) specific to the principal applicant’s category of permanent residence, to ensure they submit a complete and fully documented application, including applicable fees. The sponsorship fee and processing fees for the principal applicant and any accompanying dependants must be included with the application fee. Principal applicants and dependants have the option of paying the Right of Permanent Residence Fee (RPRF) upfront – if they do not, they will be required to pay it later as a condition of being granted permanent residence. Dependent children – whether they are the principal applicant or an accompanying dependant – are not required to pay the RPRF.

Suspension of processing

Processing of a sponsorship application may be suspended if any of the following applies to a sponsor or co-signer:

  • is in the process of citizenship revocation proceedings [R136(1)(a)]
  • is the subject of an A44(1) inadmissibility report [R136(1)(b)]
  • has been charged with a serious criminal offence (i.e. punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of at least 10 years) [R136(1)(c)]
  • has filed an appeal of a negative decision made outside Canada on their residency obligation [R136(2)]

In such cases, an officer will assess sponsorship requirements only when the respective matter has been dealt with conclusively, i.e. there is no regulatory or administrative impediment to sponsorship. As income requirements may no longer be met because of the amount of time that has passed since submission of the undertaking, sponsors and co-signers will be required to submit updated information as required to allow IRCC to assess MNI based on the Low Income Cut-off Figures (LICO) in effect on the date the suspension is deemed to be lifted.

Reviewing sponsorship and applications for permanent residence

What to review for applications for the following:

Spouses, common-law partners, conjugal partners, dependent children and parents and grandparents

The CPC reviews all sponsorship and application for permanent residence forms and supporting documents to confirm that the application is complete:

  • sponsorship forms, including completed and signed Application to Sponsor, Sponsorship Agreement and Undertaking (IMM 1344)
  • application for permanent residence forms (IMM 008), completed and signed
  • all required supporting documents and forms in accordance with the Document Checklist for the applicable family class category and sponsored family member
  • correct sponsorship and permanent residence fees
Note: See additional information on applications submitted under the Spouse or Common-law Partner in Canada class: Determining membership in the spouse or common-law partner in Canada class.

Adopted children or children to be adopted

See OP 3: Adoptions (PDF, 472.4 KB) for additional details on adoptions, including:

  • responsibilities of provincial and federal adoption authorities
  • requirements for adoptions
  • assessment by officers

This includes information that, in some instances, a Canadian citizen may apply for an adopted child to be processed for Canadian citizenship without the need for them to first become permanent residents.

The CPC can process a sponsorship application for a child who is adopted or a child to be adopted (including an as-yet unnamed child). For children to be adopted, parent(s) must initiate proceedings with the applicable P/T adoption authorities in advance of submitting the sponsorship application. For children who are not yet named, it is the sponsor’s responsibility to notify IRCC once the child has been identified and to provide the child’s full name and date of birth. The office processing the application will ensure the file is updated with the new information. More detailed instructions are available in application guide IMM 5196, Appendix A: Sponsoring an adopted child or a child you intend to adopt.

Changing the name of a child to be adopted on the sponsorship

In some cases, where a sponsor has named the child to be adopted, that child may no longer be available for adoption and authorities will identify a new child. Sponsors who did not identify a child on the original application must do so when a child is identified. In such cases, sponsors must contact IRCC and request that a name be changed or added on the IMM 1344. The CPC will reply to the sponsor, instructing them to submit additional forms or supporting documents as needed. No additional fees apply. If the application for permanent residence has been forwarded to a processing office, it is the responsibility of the CPC to provide that office with the new name.

Other members of the family class

The CPC reviews all sponsorship and application forms to confirm that all of the following are included and complete:

  • sponsorship forms, including completed and signed Application to Sponsor, Sponsorship Agreement and Undertaking (IMM 1344), completed and signed
  • all required supporting documents in accordance with the applicable Document Checklist
  • correct sponsorship and permanent residence fees

If the application does not include all of the forms and information specified in the Document Checklist, the CPC contacts the sponsor or applicant to request that they submit the missing documents.

Applications for Permanent Residence from spouses, common-law partners, conjugal partners and dependent children

To be complete, applications must include completed and signed forms and all supporting documents, in accordance with the Document Checklist and instructions in the application guide in effect at the time the application is received by IRCC. This includes any country-specific forms that are required based on the applicant’s country of residence. Applicants can use an online country-specific requirements tool that allows them to select a country and identify any additional forms or documents they need to submit as part of their application, with instructions on how to obtain them.

In addition, to be complete, the application must contain proof of payment of correct fees.

If any of the above information is missing, the application must be returned as incomplete and no processing fees will be processed.

Applications for permanent residence from parents and grandparents

To be complete, applications must include completed and signed forms and all supporting documents, in accordance with the Document Checklist and instructions in the application guide in effect at the time the application is received by IRCC.

In addition, to be complete, the application must contain proof of payment of correct fees.

If any of the above information is missing, the application must be returned as incomplete and no processing fees will be processed.

New family members added during processing

The sponsor or applicant is expected to advise IRCC of changes in family circumstances by web form. New family members may include:

  • newborns
  • family members previously ineligible who become eligible due to regulatory amendment
  • a previously single family member’s spouse or common-law partner
  • previously non-accompanying family members who become accompanying

Depending on the stage of processing and application category, this information will be assessed by the CPC or the office processing the application for permanent residence to determine whether MNI is still met. If it is, processing will proceed as usual. If not, it is the CPC’s responsibility to reassess the sponsor’s financial circumstances and update GCMS to indicate the maximum number of persons for whom MNI is met.

The CPC will instruct the sponsor to complete and submit any necessary forms or supporting documents (including proof of income), and pay the fee for the additional family member. The CPC will reassess financial circumstances based on the 12-month period that precedes the day the officer receives the information. No reassessment is required where the sponsor is exempt from having to meet it or where IRCC is satisfied that the addition of a family member will not prevent the sponsor from meeting MNI, which may be confirmed by information from the initial assessment of the maximum number of family members the sponsor’s income could support. In cases where a sponsor or applicant notifies IRCC of a death or divorce of a family member, where a sponsor was previously deemed unable to meet MNI, but may meet the requirements based on a smaller family size, the CPC should similarly reassess the sponsor’s financial circumstances.

Sponsors and co-signers cannot request IRCC to reassess their income after the application has been submitted. Income can only be reassessed during processing in one of the following circumstances:

  • more than 12 months have elapsed since receipt of the sponsorship application [R134(2)(b)]
  • the sponsor gets married after they submit a sponsorship application – IRCC must include the spouse in calculating the family size, and include the spouse’s income in their reassessment
  • new information is received or brought to an officer's attention that indicates that the sponsor may no longer meet MNI requirements [R134(2)(a)], such as:
    • MNI was met with the assistance of a co-signer and information is received indicating that the co-signer is no longer able or willing to provide financial assistance due to a relationship breakdown or because they lost their job
    • the sponsor submitted a sponsorship application and provided a Notice of Assessment (NOA) or Option C printout issued by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and it was later established that they were no longer employed.

For parent and grandparent applicants, where a sponsor’s or co-signer’s circumstances change, they will be expected to provide a more recent NOA or Option C printout if one was provided by CRA since the original submission of the application, and their income will be reassessed based on the three taxation years immediately preceding the date the sponsorship application was filed.

If the income available is less than the applicable MNI, a permanent resident visa may not be issued and/or permanent resident status may not be granted [R133(1)(j)]. The application for a permanent resident visa or for permanent resident status is refused under A11(2).

Humanitarian and compassionate requests with spousal applications

Applicants in the family class whose sponsor is ineligible may request H&C consideration to overcome the requirement to have an eligible sponsor.

Applicants who know or suspect that they may be inadmissible may include a request for H&C consideration.

See also Humanitarian and compassionate consideration.

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