Sponsorship is a common practice in Canada where a person or entity agrees to financially support a foreign national’s immigration. It can be a promising opportunity for individuals seeking to reunite with their loved ones or pursue new opportunities in Canada. However, like any legal arrangement, sponsorship relationships can break down, and it’s essential to understand what happens when that occurs in Canada.
Sponsorship in Canada
In Canada, sponsorship falls under the Family Class sponsorship program. Canadian citizens or permanent residents can sponsor their close family members, including spouses, common-law partners, conjugal partners, dependent children, parents, and grandparents, to immigrate to Canada. Additionally, there is the Spousal or Common-Law Partner Sponsorship program, which allows Canadian citizens or permanent residents to sponsor their spouse or common-law partner.
The sponsorship process involves the following:
- The sponsor signing an undertaking.
- A legally binding agreement with the Canadian government.
- Stating that they will provide financial support for the sponsored person for a specific period.
What Happens When a Sponsorship Relationship Breaks Down?
Despite the best intentions, sponsorship relationships can sometimes break down for various reasons, such as marital or relationship issues, financial difficulties, or other unforeseen circumstances. When a sponsorship relationship fails in Canada, it can have legal and financial consequences for both the sponsor and the sponsored person.
- Financial Responsibilities: The sponsor’s financial responsibilities towards the sponsored person continue even if the relationship breaks down. As per the undertaking signed by the sponsor, they are obligated to provide financial support for the sponsored person for the entire duration of the undertaking period, which is typically three years from the sponsored person’s arrival in Canada or until the sponsored person becomes a Canadian citizen, whichever comes first. If the sponsor fails to fulfill their financial responsibilities, the sponsored person can seek legal remedies and take legal action to enforce the undertaking.
- Immigration Consequences: If the sponsorship relationship breaks down before the sponsored person becomes a Canadian citizen, it can have immigration consequences for the sponsored person. If the sponsored person and the sponsor divorce or separate before obtaining Canadian citizenship, the sponsored person’s immigration status may be jeopardized. They may be required to leave Canada and lose their ability to remain in the country as a sponsored person.
- Social Assistance: If the sponsored person receives social assistance during the undertaking period, the Canadian government has the right to recover the costs of the assistance from the sponsor. The government can take legal action to enforce the undertaking and retrieve the funds provided to the sponsored person.
- Legal Disputes: If a sponsorship relationship breaks down, it can result in legal disputes between the sponsor and the sponsored person. The sponsored person may take legal action against the sponsor for failing to fulfill their financial responsibilities as per the undertaking. The sponsor may also seek legal advice to understand their rights and responsibilities in case of a sponsorship breakdown.
- Emotional Impact: A sponsorship relationship breakdown can have emotional and psychological impacts on the sponsor and the sponsored person. It can strain relationships, cause stress, and create uncertainties about the future. Both parties must seek emotional support and counselling to cope with the emotional impact of a sponsorship breakdown.