Parental sponsorship 2021 – sponsoring parents or grandparents to Canada

Important Update (July 20, 2021): IRCC won’t allow new registration for parental sponsorship in 2021. However, they will invite 30,000 more applicants from the group that showed their interest in October 2020. They will issue the invitations in the course of two weeks and starting from Sep 20, 2021.

Canada intends to invite 30,000 applicants to sponsor their parents or grandparents in 2021. Of course, the first step is to know what are the requirements for parental sponsorship in 2021. The following article covers all the basics you need to know.

What is parental sponsorship?

About thirty percent of immigrants to Canada fall under family reunification programs. However, we could divide these programs into the following major groups:

The most popular option is parental sponsorship. However, due to the caps in the number of applications, spousal sponsorship is the primary source of sponsorship immigration. For example, the government accepted 10,000 parental applications in 2020. On the contrary, they approve about 40,000 to 70,000 spousal cases every year. There is no cap for the spousal sponsorship program.

A Canadian citizen or permanent resident sponsor accepts their parents’ or grandparents’ financial responsibility in a parental sponsorship application. Of course, the sponsor must meet the income requirements. However, the sponsor’s spouse or common-law partner could co-sign the application to cover income shortfalls. Parental sponsorship in 2021 is no exception.

Who qualifies as a sponsor in parental sponsorship 2021?

A parental sponsor in 2021 must meet all the following requirements:


When you sponsor your parents or grandparents to Canada, you agree to a 20-year undertaking. The undertaking process begins when your parents or grandparents land as permanent residents. Within those twenty years, they may not use social assistance. Of course, if they do, you will have to pay the government back. Unfortunately, nothing could spare you from undertaking obligations.

If your parents have dependent family members, then the 20-year undertaking extends to them. Consequently, you will remain responsible for the applicant’s spouse, common-law partner and dependent children.

Minimum necessary income for parental sponsorship 2021

The minimum necessary income (MNI) depends on the size of the family unit. For parental sponsorship, consider the following people in a family unit:

  • Sponsor and their dependent family members (i.e. spouse or common-law partner and dependent children)
  • Any previous undertakings that are still active
  • Concurrent undertakings (e.g. when you are co-signing for your spouse)
  • The number of people you are sponsoring (i.e. your parents or grandparents and their dependent accompanying family members)

When you have the correct number, then match your income with the following table. Of course, your income must be equal to or greater than the figures in the table each year.

Size of Family Unit 2018 2019 2020*
2 persons $40,379 $41,007 $32,899
3 persons $49,641 $50,414 $40,445
4 persons $60,271 $61,209 $49,106
5 persons $68,358 $69,423 $55,695
6 persons $77,095 $78,296 $62,814
7 persons $85,835 $87,172 $69,935
If more than seven persons, for each additional person, add $8,740 $8,876 $7,121

*Due to the economic impact of the year 2020, the government considers LICO for this year. However, the MNI for the other two years reflects 30% above LICO. The figures in this table are unofficial. Double-check everything with IRCC

Important notes about MNI

The only proof of income is line 150 of your Notice of Assessment (NOA) or equivalent (i.e. Option C printout). Unfortunately, you may not refer to any other documents. However, if you have a co-signer, you may add their income to yours. Nonetheless, they must also rely on line 150 of their NOA. Remember, you must meet the MNI for all three years. Otherwise, you won’t qualify.

If you have received an Invitation to Apply (ITA) but do not meet the MNI or other requirements, you could apply under H&C. However; you must have strong humanitarian evidence to proceed. Regardless, the officers will most likely refuse your application, and you have to go through the appeal process.

Criminal convictions

If you have certain criminal convictions, you may not sponsor your parents’ or grandparents’ immigration to Canada. Generally speaking, the criminal convictions that could affect you include domestic violence, sexual abuse and significant violence towards others. However, in certain circumstances, IRCC may spare you. For example, receiving a record suspension in Canada could help. If the offence was outside Canada and five years have passed from the time you completed your sentence, they could spare you. Nonetheless, consult with a professional to make sure if exemptions apply to you.


If you file for bankruptcy, you may not sponsor your parents or grandparents to Canada in 2021. However, if you are discharged bankrupt, then you may proceed. A discharged bankrupt is someone free from paying any debts they had when filing for bankruptcy. Of course, some exceptions apply. The government of Canada has some guidelines to explain this issue. Regardless, I recommend discussing the matter with a bankruptcy professional to make sure you qualify.

Social assistance

You may not sponsor your parents or grandparents if you are receiving social assistance. Section 2 of the Immigration Regulations defines social assistance as follows:

Social assistance means any benefit in the form of money, goods or services provided to or on behalf of a person by a province under a program of social assistance, including a program of social assistance designated by a province to provide for basic requirements, including food, shelter, clothing, fuel, utilities, household supplies, personal requirements and health care not provided by public health care, including dental care and eye care.

Regardless of the preceding paragraph, receiving social assistance because of disability does not affect your application. Consequently, programs such as ODSP do not disqualify you.

Who qualifies as a co-signer in parental sponsorship 2021?

The only person who could be the co-signer is the sponsor’s spouse or common-law partner. Nonetheless, the co-signer must meet all the requirements for the sponsor. Of course, when there is a co-signer, the income will be the sum of both incomes. In other words, you will add NOA line 150 of both incomes for each year, and they must remain more than MNI. Under paragraph 132(5)(b) of the Immigration Regulations:

The co-signing spouse or common-law partner is jointly and severally or solidarily bound with the sponsor to perform the undertaking’s obligations and is jointly and severally or solidarily liable with the sponsor for any breach of those obligations.

Consequently, co-sign the application if you truly want to accept this responsibility for 20 years. Unfortunately, a divorce or separation does not free you from the undertaking. Moreover, the sponsor’s siblings or other family members may not co-sign a parental sponsorship application in 2021 or in previous years. Unfortunately, there is no indication the government intends to make changes to co-signer requirements soon.

Who qualifies as the principal applicant?

Every immigration application has a principal applicant (PA). Of course, parental sponsorship in 2021 is no exception. The principal applicant must meet the following requirements:

Sometimes you are sponsoring both of your parents, who are still common-law partners or spouses. However, you must pick one of them as the principal applicant. Consequently, please choose the one with fewer complexities in their lives. Of course, this could reduce your paperwork a little bit.

The parental relationship could be biological or through legal adoption.

Who qualifies as an accompanying family member?

The following people could be the accompanying family members of the principal applicant (PA).

  • Spouse or common-law partner of the PA
  • Dependent children of the PA or the PA’s spouse or common-law partner
  • Dependent grandchildren of the PA or the PA’s spouse or common-law partner

Of course, each accompanying family member increases the size of the family unit for MNI calculations. Also, each family member’s inadmissibility makes the rest of the family members inadmissible to Canada.

Suppose your parents get divorced and then remarry other people. Consequently, you need to sponsor two principal applicants and two sets of family members. Of course, this means more income and complexities in the applications. Consult with a professional to realize the best options for you.

Humanitarian and compassionate considerations in parental sponsorship 2021

Sometimes you do not meet the requirements of the sponsor. Alternatively, the applicants may not meet the criteria. In these situations, you may proceed with the application under humanitarian and compassionate (H&C) grounds. Of course, you must have evidence to show H&C applies to you.  Since this is a complicated situation, please book a consultation session with me to explore your options.

Appealing the refusal of an application

If an officer refuses a parental sponsorship application in 2021, you have the right to appeal. Of course, this means you have 30 days from the day you receive the refusal to tender the Notice of Appeal to the Immigration Appeal Division (IAD). You may not appeal if,

  • Refusal is on the grounds of inadmissibility due to any of the following reasons:
    • Security
    • Human rights violations
    • Serious criminality
    • Organized criminality
  • Either the sponsor or the applicants have misrepresented.
  • The IAD believes the applicant is not a family member.
  • You waved your right to appeal at the time of application.

Of course, if you persist on an appeal when facing these issues, then IAD will dismiss your appeal. However, you may still have the option to file for a judicial review. Since the appeal process is complex, please book a consultation session with me to explore your options.

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    Al Parsai, MA, DTM, RCIC
    Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
    Ashton College Instructor – Immigration Consulting
    Author – 88 Tips on Immigration to Canada

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    Al Parsai

    This article has been expertly crafted by Al Parsai, a distinguished Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (L3 RCIC-IRB – Unrestricted Practice) hailing from vibrant Toronto, Canada. Al's academic achievements include an esteemed role as an adjunct professor at prestigious Queen's University Law School and Ashton College, as well as a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from York University. A respected member of CICC and CAPIC organizations, Al's insights are further enriched by his experience as the dynamic CEO of Parsai Immigration Services. Guiding thousands of applicants from over 55 countries through the immigration process since 2011, Al's articles offer a wealth of invaluable knowledge for readers.