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Retiring in Canada: Social Welfare and Family Benefits

The Government of Canada is committed to reuniting loved ones and keeping families together wherever possible. Therefore, the country offers many immigration programs that give Canadians ample opportunity to sponsor their spouse and relatives who wish to immigrate to Canada in order to join their loved ones. The country has one of the most straightforward visa application processes in the world. This is just one of the many reasons that Canada has proven to be such a popular destination for Hong Kongers.

As a permanent resident or citizen of Canada, you can sponsor an eligible family member or spouse who wishes to immigrate to Canada. The Dependent Visa for Canada, part of the Family Class Sponsorship Program, enables adult permanent residents or citizens to reunite with relatives, dependent children or their spouse through immigration to Canada.

Application procedures

In order to sponsor a family member for a Dependent Visa, the applicant must be a permanent resident or citizen of Canada. Once you become a Canada permanent resident, you have almost all the same obligations and rights as a Canadian citizen. This status may be held indefinitely as long as you accumulate at least 2 years’ worth of residency days within a 5-year period. After 3 years of residency in Canada, you may also submit an application for full citizenship. Canada recognizes dual citizenship, so there’s no pressure to relinquish your current passport.

Spousal or common-law partner sponsorships

Spousal immigration in Canada is relatively simple. Whether your partner is residing abroad or in Canada on a temporary visa, you can make use of the accelerated 12-month processing period by sponsoring them for permanent residence on a spousal visa. Applicants who live in Canada may potentially also qualify for an open work permit, which gives couples the opportunity to relieve themselves of some of their financial burdens.

Both the spousal visa and spousal open work permit afford sponsored persons the ability to work in Canada even during the time that their sponsorship application is being processed. Canada recognizes common-law partnerships, meaning you may be eligible to apply for a spousal sponsorship if you and your partner are unmarried but have been cohabiting for at least 12 months.

Child (or other dependent) sponsorship

Canada-bound immigrants are able to include their children as accompanying dependents on their permanent residence applications. However, if for certain reasons, you had chosen not to, your children may still be able to join you under the Child Sponsorship Program. This dependent visa initiative allows Canadian residents and citizens to sponsor their dependent children (aged 21 or below) for permanent residency, on the condition that the said children are unmarried and have no children of their own.

Parent or grandparent sponsorship

Parents and grandparents of Canadian permanent residents and citizens may be sponsored through the Parent and Grandparent Sponsorship Program. To be eligible, the permanent resident or citizen must demonstrate that they are capable of financially supporting their family in accordance with the Minimum Necessary Income for the size of their family unit. Sponsors who are unable to permanently support their sponsored relatives may be eligible for a Super Visa. This is a multiple-entry, long-term visa for both parents and grandparents of Canadian permanent residents and citizens.

Applicant eligibility

Before you begin a Family Sponsorship application, you must ensure that all applicants are indeed eligible.

First of all, the individual seeking sponsorship must be one of the following in relation to a Canadian citizen or permanent resident:

  • Dependent child
  • Parent
  • Grandparent
  • Spouse or common-law or conjugal partner
  • Sibling, niece, nephew or grandchild aged 17 or below who is unmarried and whose parents are both deceased

However, there is more to these definitions, and the details could be crucial when considering your loved one’s application.

How is a spouse or partner defined?

  • Spouse: you have been legally married in your country of origin and under Canadian law
  • Conjugal partner: you have been in a relationship for at least 12 months but been prevented from cohabiting because of religious reasons, immigration barriers, sexual orientation or marital status (e.g. one of you is legally married to someone else in a country where divorce is not possible)
  • Common-law partner: you have had at least 12 months of uninterrupted cohabitation in a conjugal relationship
  • Same-sex relationships are considered valid for the purposes of immigration within all of the above categories

How is a dependent child defined?

A child of a sponsor or of the sponsor’s common-law partner or spouse is considered dependent if they are 21 or below and single. Children aged 22 or older can be considered dependents if they relied on their parents financially when they were 21 or younger and are unable to support themselves financially because of a physical or mental condition.

A child who is under the sole custody of a previous spouse is still considered dependent. They must be declared on the sponsorship application. If a dependent child who is being sponsored has at least one dependent child themselves, the sponsor must also demonstrate that they have the financial capacity to meet a low-income threshold.

Who can be a sponsor?

Any adult Canadian permanent resident or citizen who resides in Canada can be a sponsor (as can citizens who are currently living abroad and who plan to return to permanently residing in Canada once their sponsored relative arrives in the country.

There are a number of caveats to this rule. You may not be a sponsor if you:

  • Are incarcerated
  • Are subject to a removal order
  • Are going through bankruptcy
  • Have been convicted of committing or attempting or threatening to commit a violent or sexual offense
  • Are receiving social assistance from the government (except for disability)
  • Have failed to pay child support
  • Have failed to return payment on immigration loans
  • Have sponsored a relative previously who then failed to meet the terms of their sponsorship
  • Have sponsored an ex-spouse or -partner who was not a permanent resident for over 3 years
  • Were sponsored yourself and became a resident under 5 years ago



To sponsor a family member for the Dependent Visa for Canada, you need to provide documentation that incontrovertibly demonstrates your finances from the preceding 12 months to the IRCC (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada), in order to determine whether you are capable of financially supporting the individual in question.

As of October 24, 2017, the IRCC declared that principal applicants of the Dependent Visa for Canada may include on their immigration application their children who are aged 21 or below as long as the latter are neither married nor in a common-law relationship.

The sponsored person must submit the results of a medical exam taken at the time of their application. Applicants from Africa, Europe and the Middle East must also include their biometric data.

Applicants and every relative aged 18 and above must also submit police certificates from their country of origin or the country in which they have spent the majority of their life living, as well as from any country in which they resided for over 6 months.

Finally, the province of Quebec requires further family sponsorship criteria once the abovementioned federal criteria have been met. After applying for sponsorship, potential sponsors who reside within Quebec must submit a special agreement to the Government of Quebec.


The Government of Canada must receive payment of the processing fees and sponsorship for Family Class applications. Furthermore, every sponsored relative who is not a dependent child must submit a Right of Permanent Residence fee. This fee is the only one that will be refunded to individuals whose sponsorships are refused or withdrawn.

Family Member Fees ($CAN) Total Fees/Person ($CAN)

Spouse/partner/relative aged 22 or above


Sponsorship fee (75)



Processing fee (475)
Right of Permanent Residence fee (490)

Relative aged 21 or below who is not your dependent child


Sponsorship fee (75)



Processing fee (75)
Right of Permanent Residence fee (490)

Dependent/adopted child or orphaned relative


Sponsorship fee (75)



Processing fee (75)
Live the dream life in Canada with your loved ones!

Canada is a wonderful place to live with your family, and its sponsorship programs are among the most welcoming and straightforward in the world. That being said, the residency and visa decisions, tax complications and associated costs of the immigration process mean you’re strongly recommended to consult an advisor if considering family or spouse immigration to Canada. Simard & Associates offers professional help with visa applications for your dependents or spouse. We are a Hong Kong-based professional immigration intermediary for clients looking at immigrating to Canada, North America and other popular and desirable immigrant countries. Get in touch today and one of our friendly team members will help relocate and reunite you and your loved ones in Canada.


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