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BlogNavigating Canada’s sponsorship laws

12 July 2019

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It may seem odd that in certain circumstances a grandson or granddaughter can sponsor a grandparent but a father or mother can’t sponsor their child. However, the immigration law surrounding sponsorship is not as straightforward as it seems, and more often than not, the reverse is true: it is harder to sponsor a grandparent than a daughter or son.

Under the Family Class, a permanent resident or Canadian citizen has the opportunity to sponsor the immigration of a spouse, parent, grandparent, child, or other specific relative. In the case of dependent children, a father or mother can sponsor a son or daughter as their dependent up until they turn 22 years of age. Unlike with most other Family Class sponsorships, the parent does not need to meet the Low Income Cut-Off figures (LICO) in order to sponsor their child. Furthermore, a dependent child can be allowed to be reunited with their parent(s) even if they have a medical condition that would otherwise make them inadmissible to Canada. These are significant distinctions to facilitate family re-unification in Canada.

On August 1, 2014 the former Conservative Government reduced the cutoff age for a dependent child under Canada’s immigration program from 22 to 19. It is important to note that the current Liberal government restored that age threshold to the original 22 as of October 24, 2017.

Grandparent sponsorship differs from that of child sponsorship in several ways. The financial requirements for parent or grandparent sponsorship are far more rigorous than that of child sponsorship. For a grandchild to be able to sponsor a grandparent, they are not only required to demonstrate their ability to financially support their grandparent, but they must meet specific income thresholds as reported on three Notices of Assessments (NOAs) issued by the Canada Revenue Agency, and must exceed the LICO figures by 30%. This is a fairly onerous threshold to meet. In 2018 the income required for a single grandson to sponsor his single grandfather, was $40,379 (and very close to that for the preceding three years). If the grandson was married with two children and he was sponsoring his single grandfather, he would need a combined Canadian family income of $68,358. It does not matter what the grandfather’s income is, as only the Canadian grandson and his spouse’s income are considered for the purposes of meeting the LICO figures.

Furthermore, while dependent children are exempt from being deemed inadmissible if they have a severe medical condition that would demand more care, this exemption doesn’t hold for grandparents. Grandparents must demonstrate that they are medically admissible to Canada meaning that they don’t have a medical condition that could place a significant demand on Canada’s health care system.

Another consideration to keep in mind is that the minimum age for a sponsor is 18 years old. While most parents who want to sponsor their child aren’t restricted by the minimum age requirement (it being less likely that they are under 18 years old), this age requirement could hinder more parent or grandparent sponsorships as it is difficult for most 18-year-olds to be able to meet the necessary income requirements. For parent or grandparent sponsorship, the age limit does create a restriction for younger grandchildren who wish to sponsor their grandparent.

So, while the title question about sponsorship ability does raise a genuine issue, because of lighter financial responsibilities and the exemption from medical inadmissibility for dependent children, it is typically much easier in Canada’s Family Class immigration program for a father to sponsor his son than for a grandson to sponsor his grandfather.

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