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Family Sponsorship

Dependent Child Sponsorship

The Dependent Child Sponsorship program in Canada is a vital component of family reunification and immigration policies. This underscores the nation’s commitment to keeping families together. This program allows Canadian citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their dependent children, including adopted children, to come and live with them in Canada permanently. The roots of the program can be traced back to the broader context of Canada’s immigration history, which has always been shaped by the principle of family reunification. Historically, Canada’s immigration policies have evolved from being highly selective and restrictive to more inclusive, reflecting the changing attitudes towards diversity and the importance of family. Over the years, the program has undergone several changes to adapt to the evolving social and economic landscape of the country. Amendments have been made to the definitions of who qualifies as a dependent child, reflecting the government’s response to the changing nature of family structures and societal norms.

Definition of a Dependent Child?

To be eligible for sponsorship, children must meet the definition of a dependent child. Whether they are the biological or adopted child of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, a child is considered as a dependent if they are not married or in a common-law relationship and are under the age of 22.  

Exception: Children who are over the age of 22 years can qualify as “over-age” dependants if they have depended on their parents for financial support since before they reached the age limit and can not financially support themselves due to a mental or physical condition

Requirements to sponsor a Dependent Child?

To sponsor a child from another country for adoption, the sponsor must:

  • Be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident (if you do not currently reside in Canada, you must do so when the adopted child becomes a permanent resident).
  • Live in Canada; and
  • Be at least 18 years old.

Sponsors may not be eligible to sponsor in some cases, such as:

  • If sponsor(s) did not meet the requirements of a previous sponsorship agreement.
  • If sponsor(s) defaulted on a court-ordered support order, such as alimony or child support.
  • If sponsor(s) have been convicted of a violent criminal offence – depending on the nature of the offence, when it occurred and whether a record suspension was granted

Minimum Necessary Income (MNI) requirements

Canadian citizens or permanent residents who are sponsoring their dependent children are not required to meet the Minimum Necessary Income (MNI), provided that the dependent child does not have any children of their own. If the dependent child being sponsored has dependent children of their own, the sponsor must meet the MNI required for their family unit size.

Requirements for (inter-country) adoption

Most inter-country adoptions will take place in the child’s home country. Each country has different laws and procedures covering adoption by foreigners. For instance, some countries allow adoptions outside the child’s home country, while others only permit adoption inside the country. Not all countries allow adoptions. If you are adopting a child who is related to you, different rules from the provinces and/or the country of origin may apply. The immigration process allows two types of adoptions of children under 18. Depending on the law of the child’s home country, the inter-country adoption must be completed inside or outside of Canada. For Canadian immigration purposes, all inter-country adoptions must:

  • Be legal in the child’s home country and in the province or territory where you live.
  • End the legal relationship between your adopted child and his or her biological parents.
  • Meet the requirements of your province or territory, including a home study.
  • Create a genuine parent–child relationship between you and the child.
  • Be in the best interests of the child.
  • Not be primarily to gain permanent resident status for the child in Canada.

Children adopted outside Canada may be sponsored to come to Canada if

  • Informed consent has been given by both of your child’s biological parents (if they are living).
  • Your child has been legally adopted outside Canada.
  • The requirements of the Hague Convention have been met if they apply.

Hague Convention

The Hague Convention protects children and their families against the risks of illegal, irregular, premature, or ill-prepared adoptions abroad. To do this, the Hague Convention puts:

  • Safeguards in place to make sure that all inter-country adoptions are in the best interests of the child and respects their human rights,
  • A system in place of cooperation among countries to guarantee that these safeguards are respected, and to prevent the abduction of, sale of, or traffic in children.

For Hague adoptions, the authorities in both countries must agree to go ahead with the adoption. For non-Hague adoptions, requirements may vary from one country to another. The Hague Convention does not allow private adoptions in the child’s home country. Adoption is a handled by the provinces and territories, and they all have and follow laws implementing the Hague Convention. They can explain the rules you need to follow under the Hague Convention and for adoptions from a country that is not a party to the Convention.

Medical requirements

Adopted children must complete a medical exam before being issued a permanent resident visa. Your province or territory or a licensed adoption agency will tell you how and when it will take place. You must also sign a statement that you have obtained information regarding any medical conditions the child may have.

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Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs) about Dependent Child Sponsorship

The Dependent Child Sponsorship program allows Canadian citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their dependent biological or adopted children, enabling them to live permanently in Canada as part of family reunification policies.

A dependent child is one who is not married or in a common-law relationship and under the age of 22. Over-age dependents, who are over 22, may qualify if they depended financially on their parents before reaching 22 and cannot support themselves due to a mental or physical condition.

The sponsor must be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident living in Canada, be at least 18 years old, and meet specific eligibility criteria, including not having defaulted on previous sponsorship agreements or support orders, and not having been convicted of certain violent criminal offenses.

Sponsors do not need to meet MNI requirements unless the dependent child being sponsored has their own dependent children. In such cases, the sponsor must meet the MNI for their family unit size.

Inter-country adoptions must be legal in the child’s home country and the Canadian province or territory, end the legal relationship with biological parents, meet provincial/territorial requirements, create a genuine parent-child relationship, be in the child’s best interest, and not be primarily for gaining Canadian permanent resident status for the child.

Children adopted outside Canada can be sponsored if both biological parents gave informed consent (if alive), the adoption was legal, and, if applicable, the Hague Convention requirements were met.

The Hague Convention safeguards children and families against the risks of ill-prepared adoptions abroad, ensuring that adoptions are in the child’s best interest, respecting human rights, and preventing child trafficking. It mandates cooperation between countries and does not permit private adoptions in the child’s home country.

If you are a Canadian citizen living abroad, you can sponsor a dependent child. However, you must reside in Canada when the adopted child becomes a permanent resident.

Yes, different rules may apply to adopting a child related to you. These rules can vary based on the state or province and the child’s country of origin.

Make sure the adoption meets the legal requirements of the child’s home country and your Canadian province or territory, if applicable.

For non-Hague adoptions, the requirements may vary from country to country. It’s essential to consult with adoption authorities in your province or territory for specific guidelines.

Adoption is handled by provinces and territories, each having laws implementing the Hague Convention and specific rules for adoptions. They are responsible for explaining the rules and ensuring that adoptions meet legal requirements.

Yes, you can sponsor your biological child even if they were not included in your initial spousal sponsorship application. You would need to apply under the Dependent Child Sponsorship program and ensure that your child meets the definition of a dependent child.

Your ability to sponsor your biological child is generally not affected by whether you live with your spouse or not. However, you must meet all the eligibility criteria for sponsorship. This includes being a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident living in Canada and being financially capable of supporting the child.

Your current spouse’s consent is not required to sponsor your biological child. However, if your current spouse is a co-signer on the application, their financial information may be considered in assessing your financial ability to support the child.

Yes, you will need to provide sufficient documentation to prove your relationship with your child. This may include birth certificates, adoption papers (if applicable), and any other legal documents that establish your parental relationship.

The other parent’s consent may be required to process the child’s immigration to Canada, especially if they have legal custody or visitation rights. Legal documents or court orders may be needed to demonstrate that you have the right to bring the child to Canada.