2.D Refugee-Sponsor Relationship
D.5 What special considerations may apply when relatives are among the sponsors?
(ii) What does “family member” mean for the purposes of community sponsorship of refugees?
How Canada Does It
Sponsoring groups may sponsor a refugee (“principal applicant”) and his/her “family members” to resettle in Canada. The principal applicant’s family members do not themselves have to meet the criteria for refugee status and resettlement as long as they qualify as “dependants” and are not inadmissible to Canada. Qualifying family members/dependants include spouses, common-law partners, dependent children, spouses or common-law partners’ dependent children, and dependent children of dependent children. De facto dependants may also qualify for concurrent processing so they resettle in Canada at the same time as the principal refugee family unit.
Sponsoring groups may sponsor a principal applicant and his/her “family members” to resettle in Canada. The family members need to independently meet the criteria for refugee status and resettlement so long as they qualify as “dependants” and are not inadmissible to Canada. “Dependants” include:
- Common-law partner – an individual who has been in a conjugal relationship with a person for at least one year and either has cohabited for at least one year, or who is unable to cohabit with the person due to persecution or any form of penal control;
- Dependent children – they are (i) under 19 years of age and unmarried/not in a common-law partnership; or (ii) 19 years of age or older, have depended substantially on the financial support of the parent since before the age of 19, and are unable to be financially self-supporting due to a physical or mental condition;
- Spouse or common-law partner’s dependent children; and
- Dependent children of dependent children.
“De facto dependants” are individuals who are dependent on the principal family unit but who do not meet the definition of family member/dependant set out above. The relationship may be by blood, marriage or strictly through long association (i.e., may not necessarily be a relative). The dependency must be emotional or financial and will often be a combination of both factors. Because de facto dependants do not qualify as “family members” per Canada’s regulations, they must independently qualify for resettlement by meeting eligibility and admissibility criteria, and are ineligible to be processed under Canada’s One Year Window Program (see D.5(iii)). They may, however, qualify for concurrent processing at the same time as the principal refugee family unit.