In Spousal Sponsorships

The word sponsorship can actually have a variety of meanings when it comes to Canadian immigration.

In the true immigration policy sense, to sponsor someone has a relatively narrow definition. It is a term of art used only for family or refugee cases. Typical examples include situations of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident sponsoring a spouse, dependent child or a parent or grandparent.

Under section 130 of the Regulations to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, a sponsor is defined as a person who is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, at least 18 years of age, resides in Canada and has filed a sponsorship application in respect of a member of the family class or the spouse or common-law partner in Canada class.

Specifically, a sponsor must not only have the financial means to undertake the care of the potential immigrant, but also must meet specific criteria. The sponsor cannot have been convicted under the Criminal Code for an offence of a sexual nature or a family assault and also cannot be subject to any default of any previous immigration undertakings or support payment obligations ordered by a Court. In addition, the sponsor cannot be an undischarged bankrupt, be destitute or in receipt of social assistance.

Thus, the onus on sponsors is to show that, financially and by virtue of good character, they are in a position to undertake to assist an the immigrant for three years, in the case of spouse or children, or for twenty years, in the case of parents or grandparents.

Also, under the refugee provisions of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the word “sponsor” appears. In this context, the sponsor means a church or a group, a corporation or an unincorporated organization that acts for a purpose of sponsoring a Convention refugee. Here, a group means five or more Canadian citizens or permanent residents, each of whom is at least 18 years of age and are acting together for the purpose of assisting a refugee.

Pursuant to section 153 of the Regulations to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, in order to sponsor foreign nationals, the sponsor must reside or have represen- tatives in the expected community of settlement, must make an application that includes a settlement plan and undertaking and must not have been in default under a previous undertaking.

More often than not, the general public, however, often uses the word “sponsor” in the context of asking questions such as “Can my brother sponsor me for my Canadian permanent residence?” or “Can my company sponsor me for a work permit?”

Under the skilled worker category of achieving permanent residence, an individual must obtain 67 points based on age, education, language skills, work experience and adaptability. Under the adaptability factor, the person can obtain an additional five points for having a relative in Canada. Thus, the brother who is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident can assist the applicant, on the skilled worker grid, up to five points simply by being resident here. It is not necessary that the brother provide any financial documents or support, but simply by the fact of his being here and proving his Canadian citizenship or permanent residency and relation- ship to the potential applicant, the immigrant can achieve an extra five points. This is the sense in which the layperson usually understands the word “sponsor.”

Similarly, in a situation where a person wishes to be sponsored by a company, what the person implies is whether the company can offer a guaranteed job offer to assist the individual in entering Canada on an immediate basis on a work permit or eventually for permanent residence.

Thus, it is important to remember that when the word sponsorship is used by Immigration officials, it is in a very narrow sense and is not a word that is easily substituted for other forms of assistance which have very specific requirements.