Sponsor Undeclared Family Members Canada
NOTE: The following public policy for undeclared family members is no longer in effect, but you may still find the explanations helpful.
Jenna, a Barbadian citizen, married a permanent resident of Canada six years ago. At that time, Jenna’s Canadian husband sponsored her. However, she had a two-year-old son from a previous marriage. Jenna’s ex-husband had sole custody of their son. Unfortunately, he refused to allow the child to undergo the medical examination. Therefore, Jenna signed a letter to strip herself from sponsoring her child in the future. Luckily, Jenna’s ex is now willing to allow her to sponsor the child in Canada. Thus, she wonders if she could initiate the process despite being an undeclared family member.
Complexities of family relationships could affect the immigration process immensely. I have experienced such complexities a few times during my career as an immigration consultant. One of the issues is undeclared family members, for sure.
Who is a family member?
A family member in the context of immigration to Canada includes any of the following:
- Spouse or common-law partner,
- children who are under 22 and not married,
- children who are 22 or over but depend on their parents because of mental or physical disabilities, or
- the dependent children of the dependent children.
Dependent children could be biological or adopted children of the principal applicant and their spouse.
Who is an undeclared family member?
When you apply for immigration to Canada, you must mention the names and information of your dependent family members on the immigration forms. Of course, you need to present certain documents to prove the relationships. Some examples of these documents are passports, birth certificates, marriage deeds and passport photos. However, the process of declaration goes beyond the documents and forms. Whether accompanying you to Canada or not, your family must undergo a medical examination and background screening. Thus, if you or they miss any of these steps, they will become undeclared family members.
Why is the declaration of family members necessary?
Under section 42 of the Immigration Act, if a family member is inadmissible to Canada, every family member becomes inadmissible. Also, sometimes you may lose eligibility for immigration by adding a family member to the application. Consequently, officers are sensitive toward the declaration of family members. Furthermore, paragraph 117(9)(d) of the Immigration Regulations prevents you from sponsoring undeclared family members in the future.
The pilot project to sponsor undeclared family members
The government of Canada introduced a pilot project on September 9, 2019. Under this project, you may sponsor your undeclared family members if you meet specific criteria. However, this program will run for only two years.
The requirements to sponsor undeclared family members
You may support undeclared family members only if you applied for immigration to Canada under one of the following programs:
- Sponsorship for spouses or common-law partners outside Canada
- Sponsorship for spouses or common-law partners in Canada
- Refugee claims inside Canada
- Resettlement of refugees from outside Canada
- A dependent family member inside Canada or a resettled refugee
The sponsor must be a permanent resident of Canada or a Canadian citizen. Of course, you also need to meet other requirements such as age, residency in Canada, etc.
Which undeclared family members may you not sponsor
You may not sponsor any of the following undeclared family members under this pilot program:
- You immigrated to Canada under any agenda other than those mentioned above (e.g. Express Entry or PNP);
- The family member could make you inadmissible to Canada when you initially immigrated to Canada; or
- You didn’t declare the family member because their declaration disqualified you from immigrating to Canada.
What if I do not qualify to sponsor undeclared family members?
You could still apply if you do not qualify for the pilot project. However, your only chance is to ask for Humanitarian and Compassionate (H&C) considerations. Of course, you need to know the success rate for H&C applications is low. Take this route only if you have no other choice and you have strong arguments. If you are not familiar with H&C applications, read the following article.
Do you intend to sponsor an undeclared family member?
Please fill out our free assessment form if you intend to sponsor your undeclared family members. We will review the form 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.
Would you please fill out our free assessment form if you wish to visit or move to Canada? 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 immigration advice from a licensed practitioner.
Al ParsaiAl Parsai, LLM, MA, RCIC-IRB
Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
Adjunct Professor – Queen’s University – Faculty of Law
Ashton College Instructor – Immigration Consulting
Author – 88 Tips on Immigration to Canada
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