How to Sponsor Your Parents for Immigration to Canada in 2021

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If you’re taking the time to read this article, you’re probably lucky enough to have one or both of your parents. That’s awesome! 

You also probably like them enough to actually want them around! Even more awesome!

But once you start the process of sponsoring your parents, you will (or already have) come across a disheartening message:

2020 interest to sponsor form closure message

Not awesome.

It’s over halfway through 2021! Why does the official Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada website not have information for 2021?

Typical government websites.

Luckily, you’re not on a government website right now!

We’re Dhanu Dhaliwal Law Group, and we’re here to help you! 

If you’re looking to sponsor your parents for immigration to Canada, give us a call or contact us through our form. We’ll help you be ready to go as soon as the 2021 sponsorship form opens.

If you’re not sure just yet if you’re ready or able to sponsor your parents, then you’re in the right place too. We’ll get you up to speed so that you too can be ready to be one of the 30,000 applicants entered to sponsor a family member.

Here’s everything you need to know before you sponsor your parents for immigration to Canada.

family trying to sponsor parents to Canada

Am I eligible to sponsor my parents to Canada?

First, not everyone who lives in Canada can sponsor a relative for immigration.

If you’re a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident of Canada, or if you’re registered in Canada as an Indian under the Canadian Indian Act, you can sponsor your parents to Canada.

You also must be 18 years old or older to sponsor anyone for immigration, regardless of your immigration status.

If you yourself are a temporary resident of Canada, you’ll need to become a permanent resident before you can sponsor anyone. 

Don’t fret though, because we can help you get permanent residency here in British Columbia if this is the case!

Even if you meet these requirements, there are still some things that can prevent you from sponsoring your parents.

You may NOT sponsor if you:

  • Failed to pay back an immigration loan or performance bond
  • Failed to pay any court-ordered family support payments (such as spousal support or child support)
  • Failed to provide financial support agreed to in a past sponsorship agreement 
  • Declared bankruptcy and are not discharged
  • Are receiving social assistance benefits for a reason other than disability
  • Are under a removal order
  • Are detained in a penitentiary, jail, reformatory, or prison
  • were convicted of an offence of a sexual nature, a violent criminal offence, an offence against a relative that resulted in bodily harm or an attempt or threat to commit any such offences—depending on circumstances such as the nature of the offence, how long ago it occurred and whether a pardon was issued (our criminal defence team, led by former Crown Prosecutor Rob Dhanu, may be able to help you sort out any criminal issues preventing you from sponsoring your parents).
family unified after parents were sponsored for immigration

How much income do I need to sponsor my parents in Canada?

When you sponsor your parents, you are informing the Canadian government that you have a vested interest in their citizenship in Canada.

But sponsoring your parents is more than just “vouching” for them. 

If you sponsor a relative to come to Canada as a permanent resident, you must support your relative financially for a minimum of 20 years (10 in Quebec). This is called an “undertaking.” This undertaking that you have to be able to provide basic needs for your parents. These basic needs include:

  • food
  • clothing
  • utilities
  • personal requirements
  • shelter
  • fuel
  • household supplies
  • healthcare not provided by the government, such as dental and eye care

You will also have to make sure your parents don’t need social assistance.

In order to prove that you have the means to provide for your parents, you will need to meet certain income requirements. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada looks at your last 3 tax years for this requirement. 

In order to sponsor your parents in 2021, the minimum financial requirements that you must meet for the previous three years are:

  • 2020: $32,899
  • 2019: $41,007
  • 2018: $40,379

Sponsoring your parents can be a massive financial undertaking. But it’s done this way to ensure that they do not have to apply for social assistance. 

Your obligations as a sponsor begin on the day your parents become permanent residents of Canada. 

Even if your circumstances change, your sponsorship is still valid. This means you’re still obligated to provide basic requirements for the period of the undertaking even in the case of:

  • marital breakdown, separation, or divorce
  • family rifts
  • unemployment
  • change in financial circumstances
  • death of the principal applicant, if you also sponsor other family members

Now, this does not necessarily mean that you have to provide for your parents forever. Your parents may enter the workforce after obtaining their visas. They can also provide for themselves with any savings or money that they already have, if they so choose.

You only need to prove that you have the means to provide for your parents. However, if your parents somehow lose the means to provide for themselves, you are on the hook for their finances and basic needs for the entire 20 year period. 

Even if your parents have the means to provide for themselves, they will still need to live with you when they arrive.

Minimum Financial Requirements for 2020

The minimum necessary income for 2020 was reduced to $32,889 due to economic strain brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

If you plan to sponsor your parents next year (2022), your 2021 taxable income will likely have to be in a similar range to the 2019 and 2018 minimum requirements. This may change, however we cannot be sure at this time.

In addition to this reduction, you are allowed to count certain benefits in your income calculations for the 2020 tax year that you can’t for other years. This includes:

  • Regular Employment Insurance benefits (rather than just special Employment Insurance benefits)
  • Any Canada Emergency Response Benefits issued under:
    • The Employment Insurance Act
    • The Canadian Emergency Response Benefit Act
  • Other temporary COVID-19 related benefits, provided they’re not part of provincial social assistance programs

Can I sponsor my parents if I am a student?

If you’re a student in Canada, you cannot sponsor your parents for permanent residence in Canada.

However, you can invite them to visit on a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), which allows your parents to travel to Canada.

If you’re a student in Canada, but you are also employed, paying taxes, and earning the minimum financial requirements above, this does not apply to you, and you can sponsor your parents just fine.

Family reunified with the 2020 PGP

Can I have a cosigner?

Your spouse or common-law partner may be a co-signer on the sponsorship application, regardless of how long you have been married. 

If you’re going to have your spouse or partner cosign, they’ll also need to meet some requirements.

Your co-signer must:

  • meet the same eligibility requirements as you
  • agree to co-sign the undertaking
  • agree to be responsible for the basic requirements of your parents

Having a cosigner can actually be very helpful for your sponsorship. The minimum income requirements are calculated using your combined income with your spouse if they are a cosigner. 

Just remember that your co-signer will be equally liable for all obligations to your parents’ sponsorship.

If your co-signer is a common-law partner, you must submit special paperwork regarding this. 

You can contact our immigration law offices right now to get help with this paperwork if you have a common-law partner.

How do I submit my interest to sponsor form?

To sponsor your parents, you’ll need to submit an “interest to sponsor form.” 

Currently, you cannot do this, as IRCC only keeps submissions open for a limited time each year. 

Last year, IRCC kept these submissions open from October 13 to November 3 – less than a month.

We don’t know how long they’ll be open this year just yet, so make sure to check back in with us for more information about this year’s interest to sponsor form.

When the IRCC does open submissions, all you have to do is fill out and submit the form. You’ll be given a confirmation number once this is complete. 

Make sure to write this confirmation number down or take a picture of it with your phone. You’ll need this number if you’re invited to apply to sponsor your parents.

How do I get invited to apply to sponsor my parents?

IRCC randomly selects potential sponsors via a lottery system. 

This year, out of the 30,000 people who submit their interest to sponsor form, 10,000 people will be invited to apply to sponsor a family member.

This means you’ll have a 1 in 3 chance you’ll be invited. (Much better odds than the real lottery!).

Once you get your invitation, you will receive an email with an application package. This package includes:

  • A document checklist for you and the people you want to sponsor
  • Forms you and your parents need to fill out
  • An instruction guide to help you and your parents fill out the forms correctly

Please know that there are fees that you must pay in order for your application to be accepted.

These fees include:

  • processing fees, which start from $1,050
  • the Right of Permanent Residence Fee
  • the biometrics fee (this covers the costs of fingerprinting you and your parents and may not be required if biometrics have already been given)

These fees can be paid here.

Once you’ve applied, you’ll need to wait.

Unfortunately, the process of sponsoring takes a rather long time, about 20 to 24 months. Once this processing period is complete, you’ll be given a response from IRCC.

If you’re approved, congratulations! The next step after this is the easiest – setting up a flight for your parents and meeting them upon arrival. 


So there you have it! It’s a lot of information, but we warned you that sponsoring a parent is a complicated process.

If sponsoring your parents sounds appealing, contact us to get ready for submissions to open or if you have any legal issues that could prevent you from applying – we might be able to help you get around them.

If sponsoring your parents isn’t possible for you, don’t worry. The immigration attorneys here at Dhanu Dhaliwal Law Group can help you with sponsorship or any other immigration issue. 

In fact, there are more ways to immigrate to Canada, and even ways to come visit for an extended period of time (up to 2 years with a super visa). We can help you pick the best option, even if it’s not what you originally planned. Call us today to get started. We hope to see your parents welcomed into this wonderful country!

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