Sponsor nieces or nephews to Canada: is it possible?
Mariatu is a Canadian citizen who is originally from Sierra Leone. She has been living in Canada on her own since her landing in 2009. Unfortunately, Mariatu lost her parents, grandparents and siblings in a car accident when she was a child. However, her older sister left her son and daughter behind. To make matters worse, Mariatu’s marriage fell apart two years ago. Consequently, Mariatu, who has no children, is thinking of sponsoring her late sister’s children to Canada. Of course, she has many questions about how to sponsor nieces or nephews to Canada.
The sponsorship process allows families to reunite in Canada. However, sponsoring a niece or a nephew is not available to everyone. In this article:
- The definition of a niece or a nephew
- Who is an eligible sponsor?
- Who is an eligible applicant?
- Family members of the applicant
- The application process to sponsor your niece or nephew.
- Humanitarian and Compassionate grounds
- The right to appeal
- Let us help!
Note: If you want to sponsor family members other than nieces or nephews, visit the following links:
- Sponsor Your Spouse or Common-law Partner Outside Canada
- Sponsor Your Spouse or Common-law Partner Inside Canada
- Can I Sponsor My Brothers or Sisters (Siblings) to Immigrate to Canada
- Sponsoring uncles or aunts to Canada: who qualifies?
- Sponsor your conjugal partner to Canada
- Parents Sponsorship 2020
The definition of a niece or a nephew
The immigration regulations refer to the terms niece and nephew. However, they do not define them. Consequently, we use the definitions shown in dictionaries.
- niece: the daughter of your brother, sister, brother-in-law or sister-in-law
- nephew: the son of your brother, sister, brother-in-law or sister-in-law
Relying on these definitions, if your sibling marries another person, the child becomes your niece or nephew. Thus, sometimes there is no blood relationship between you and your niece or nephew.
Who is an eligible sponsor for nieces or nephews?
If you intend to sponsor your niece or nephew, you need to (practitioners see R117(1)(h), R130, R131 & R133(1)(j)(i)(A)):
- be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada
- be at least 18 years old
- reside in Canada
- file the sponsorship application with a complete set of documents and forms
- accept the undertaking obligations
- not be the subject of a removal order
- have no criminal convictions inside or outside Canada in the following areas:
- bodily harm toward current or former family members (domestic violence)
- sexual abuse
- significant violence (exceptions apply)
- not being an undischarged bankrupt
- not in receipt of social assistance unless because of disability
- debt free to the federal government of Canada
- meet the minimum necessary income
- be a lonely sponsor
You must meet all these requirements, or you may not sponsor your nieces or nephews. Of course, continue reading the rest of this article for more information on some of these requirements.
Residing in Canada
If you intend to sponsor your niece or nephew, you must reside inside Canada. In other words, although your nieces or nephews are outside Canada, you must remain in Canada while sponsoring them. Of course, you may travel to visit them. However, keep the durations short to avoid disrupting your residency.
When you sponsor your nieces or nephews to Canada, you agree to a 10-year undertaking. The undertaking process begins when your niece or nephew lands as a permanent resident in Canada. Within those ten years, they may not use social assistance. Of course, if they do, you will have to pay the government back.
If your niece or nephew has a spouse or common-law partner, the undertaking will extend to them. Consequently, you accept the undertaking for two people for a period of 10 years. However, the duration is concurrent and won’t add up.
If your niece or nephew has a child, then you must extend the undertaking to the child. The duration of the undertaking for the children is a bit confusing, and it depends on the age of the child at the time of landing (practitioners see R132(1)(b)(ii) and (iii)). Regardless, it will be concurrent with the parents.
- under 15 at the time of landing: for ten years from landing
- between 15 and 22 at the time of landing: by the time they become 25
- 22 or more at the time of landing: for three years from landing
If you have certain criminal convictions, you may not sponsor your niece or nephew. 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 allow you to sponsor. Please consult with a professional to make sure if exemptions apply to you.
If you file for bankruptcy, you may not sponsor your niece or nephew. However, if you are a 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 are discharged.
You may not sponsor your niece or nephew 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 (e.g. ODSP) does not affect your application.
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The minimum necessary income for sponsoring nieces or nephews
The minimum necessary income refers to your latest taxation year. For example, if you are sponsoring in 2021, they consider your income in 2020. However, there are two ways to prove your income:
- Line 150 of your latest Notice of Assessment; or
- convincing documentation such as your paystubs for the latest taxation year.
I do not recommend the latter as it creates confusion. Regardless, you must consider the calculations’ family size. Here are some examples:
- You are a lonely person who is sponsoring your niece. However, your niece has a dependent child: Three people (i..e you, your niece and her child)
- You are a lonely person who is sponsoring your nephew. However, your nephew is a bachelor with no children: Two people (i.e. you and your nephew)
To find out the actual income amount, compare your income with the LICO table. Of course, LICO refers to the poverty line in Canada and changes based on the household number.
Being a lonely sponsor!
Unless there are significant humanitarian or compassionate (H&C) reasons, the sponsor must be lonely. Of course, a lonely sponsor is someone who has none of the following:
- Group one (regardless of their status in Canada): spouse, common-law partner, conjugal partner, child, mother or father, or grandparents
- Group two (only if they are already Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada): brothers or sisters, nieces or nephews, or aunts or uncles
It is fair to say; most people do not meet these requirements. However, if there are significant humanitarian or compassionate reasons, you could still sponsor your nieces or nephews to Canada.
NOTE: If the sponsor’s niece or nephew has lost both their parents and they are under 18, then the sponsor does not need to be a lonely person.
Who is an eligible applicant?
You are an eligible applicant in the process of sponsoring nieces or nephews if you meet all the following requirements:
- Being a niece or nephew
- You are admissible to Canada.
It seems the conditions are simple. However, if the sponsor is not a lonely sponsor and no H&C reasons, the officers will exclude you as an eligible family member. ,
Admissibility of the niece or nephew (the applicant)
If the applicant is inadmissible to Canada, they may not immigrate. Visit the following links for more information:
Of course, sometimes we could resolve inadmissibility issues. If you are facing inadmissibility, contact us.
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Family members of the applicant
If your niece or nephew has dependent family members, you may also include them in the application. However, this could complicate the application because of inadmissibility issues and increasing the minimum necessary income.
The application process to sponsor your niece or nephew
If you are sponsoring your niece or nephew, follow these steps (the exact steps could vary due to your circumstances):
- Collect all the documents and fill out all the forms
- Pay the government fees (subject to change):
- Processing fee: $75 for the sponsor +$475 for the applicant = $550
- Right of Permanent Residence Fee (RPRF): $500 (for adult applicants only)
- Biometrics fee: $85 (if your niece or nephew has an accompanying family member who is over 14, then $170)
- Processing fee for the spouse or common-law partner of the applicant: $550
- Processing fee for every dependent child of the applicant: $150
- Submit the complete package on paper to the Central Intake Office (CIO) in Sydney, Nova Scotia (subject to change):
- By snail mail:
- CPC Sydney
P.O. Box 9500
- CPC Sydney
- By courier services:
- CPC Sydney
49 Dorchester Street
- CPC Sydney
- By snail mail:
- The CIO officer reviews the application for completeness and approval of the sponsor.
- If they approve the sponsor, they will forward the application to the local Visa Office responsible for its country. Also, they usually request a medical examination from the applicants at this stage.
- The local Visa Office officer reviews the application for the approval of the applicant and their family members. Of course, they may request supplementary documents. They may even interview the applicant or the sponsor or both.
- If they approve the applicant and their family members, they may travel to Canada and become a permanent resident of Canada.
Humanitarian and Compassionate (H&C) considerations
Sometimes there are significant H&C elements in sponsoring your niece or nephew in Canada. For example:
- Extreme hardship the sponsor or the applicant is facing.
- The best interest of a minor child affected by the decision of the officer
- Medical conditions in the home country of the applicant that affect their lives
Of course, this list is neither inclusive nor exclusive. Regardless, the existence of H&C could overcome any of the following issues:
- The sponsor does not meet the requirements (e.g. they are not lonely)
- The applicant does not meet the requirements (e.g. they are inadmissible because of medical issues)
If you believe you meet the H&C conditions, book a consultation session with me.
The right to appeal
Generally speaking, you have the right to appeal if the officer refuses the application. However, under certain circumstances, you may lose this right. Contact us if your application has been refused. Nonetheless, remember that you have a limited time to appeal to an immigration officer’s adverse decision on your niece or nephew’s sponsorship application.
If you want us to help you with the process of sponsoring your nieces or nephews, please fill out the following form:
If you wish to visit or move to Canada, please fill out our free assessment form. We will review it for free, but we will contact you only if we find an opportunity for you. Alternatively, you may book a consultation session. Consultation sessions are not free, but you will receive formal advice from a licenced practitioner.
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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This article provides information of a general nature only. Considering the fluid nature of the immigration world, it may no longer be current. Of course, the item does not give legal advice. Therefore, do not rely on it as legal advice or immigration advice. Consequently, no one could hold us accountable for the content of these articles. Of course, if you have specific legal questions, you must consult a lawyer. Alternatively, if you are looking for immigration advice, book an appointment.
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