In short, you must be able to provide for your spouse or common-law partner’s basic needs.

If you sponsor your spouse or partner to become a Canadian permanent resident, you must sign an undertaking, in which you promise to provide financial support for the basic needs of your spouse or partner (and their dependent children, if applicable).

Basic needs include:

  • Food, clothing, shelter and anything else needed for everyday living.
  • Dental care, eye care and other health care that isn’t covered by public health services.

Before signing the undertaking agreement, you must be certain that the sponsored person will not need to ask the government for financial help. In addition, if they receive social assistance from the government, you will need to pay back the amount they have received during the time you were responsible for them.

The undertaking is a binding promise of support. It deems you responsible for supporting the applicant for the length of the undertaking period, even if your situation changes. The undertaking will stay in effect even if:

  • The person you sponsor becomes a Canadian citizen
  • You divorce, separate or the relationship with the sponsored person breaks down
  • You or the sponsored person move to another province or country
  • You experience financial problems

What is the length of the undertaking?

The length of the undertaking is different for residents of Quebec then it is for the rest of Canada. For all parts of Canada except for Quebec, if you are sponsoring a spouse, common law or conjugal partner, the length of the undertaking is 3 years from the day the sponsored person becomes a permanent resident.

If you are sponsoring a dependent child over 22 years old, the length of the undertaking is also 3 years. If the dependent child is under 22 years old, the length of the undertaking is 10 years from the day they become a permanent resident or until the child becomes 25 years old, whichever comes first.

Can I cancel my undertaking?

If you change your mind and no longer want to sponsor a spouse or partner, you must write Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) a letter before the final decision is made on the file. The withdrawal of an undertaking will only be allowed if it is approved by IRCC.

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