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Question: Could you sponsor a niece or a nephew?

Somebody out there is sure to be outraged by the heading. “You cannot sponsor nieces and nephews!” they will point out. 

My response is that it depends how you use the word “sponsor”.

Have you ever sponsored someone who is raising money for charity? You have certainly seen examples of businesses sponsoring community events and being rewarded by the advertising and goodwill generated as a result. 

Think of Canada’s annual Terry Fox run as an example, or the sponsorship of an amateur cricket, soccer or hockey team. 

In other words, these businesses sponsor events by providing financial support.

So immigration officials do not own the word “sponsor”.  

Canadian officials will not give a student visa to someone who cannot afford the costs of studying and living in Canada. 

But a Canadian family member may be able to reduce those costs by offering shelter in their home and perhaps helping with other expenses such as food, clothing, transportation and even tuition and books. 

In many cases that will be the difference between having an application for a study visa approved or denied. 

This arrangement may also reassure the student’s parents that their child is safe and is being well taken care of.

Immigration officials will want to see that the Canadian family has the financial resources to take care of this student, whether in combination with the student’s parents, or on their own.

In those cases the Canadian family is providing a form of sponsorship, financially, emotionally and in other practical ways.

Moreover, in foreign student cases the student’s spouse can normally get a work permit while the student attends classes.

Canada’s foreign student program is not limited to young people. PhD students are very much in demand in Canada and can often obtain permanent resident status very quickly after graduation.

Canada’s foreign student program is not limited to adults, either. 

I have had teenaged clients who were attending high school in Canada, staying with Canadian family members right through trade school, college or university, then working for a Canadian employer and obtaining permanent residence status (and ultimately citizenship) as a result.

Most college, trade school and university students will qualify for a part-time work permit during their studies and a full-time work permit during holidays and after graduation from trade school, college or university. 
That will give family members a bit of financial relief.

So, might you be able to “sponsor” your family members to come to Canada as students?

– Gregory James
• Gregory James of Gregory James Immigration Law Firm can be contacted at cc@GregoryJamesLaw.com  

Posted: Sep 1, 2014

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