Family Reunification

The protection of family unity is an important human right. If you were separated from your family before or during your flight, you may apply for them to join you in Canada, under specific conditions. Whether your family can join you ultimately depends on the type of legal status you are granted and the nature of your relationship.

Who is eligible for family reunification?

Newly arrived resettled refugees

Newly arrived resettled refugees may take advantage of the One-Year Window of Opportunity Provision, which allows resettled refugees in Canada one year to apply for reunification with family members who were left behind or whose whereabouts were unknown at the time of the refugee’s arrival in Canada. To be eligible for this program, dependent family members (spouse or common law partner and dependent children) must have been identified on the resettled refugees’ original Canadian application, a few exceptions apply. Family in Canada applying to reunite through the One-Year Window of Opportunity Provision do not have to meet financial requirements. Those joining family in Canada through this program may benefit from services for resettled refugees.

Person whose refugee claim has been accepted

Any person who qualifies as a Protected Person or who has Convention Refugee Status as determined by the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has the right to apply for permanent residence and may, at the same time, include all of their nuclear family members in their application, whether they are refugees themselves or still in their home country.

Permanent resident in Canada (including refugees) 

If you are a permanent resident in Canada (including refugees) and meet certain requirements (including that you are not receiving social assistance for reasons other than a disability and that you can provide for the basic needs of any persons you want to sponsor), you may apply and benefit from the Family Class Immigration programYou may apply to be reunited with the following family members:

  • Spouse:  legally recognized spouse, common-law, or conjugal partner (including same-sex relationships).
  • Child: unmarried dependent child (and their children’s dependent children, if applicable). Dependent children must be under 22 years of age and cannot have a spouse, common-law, or conjugal partner.
  • Parents and Grandparents: There are limited spaces available in Canada for the sponsorship of parents and grandparents. Prospective sponsors may submit “expressions of interest” during predetermined intake periods, following which eligible sponsors are randomly invited to apply.

*Important Note: Those admitted under Canadian family reunification programs are admitted as permanent residents. As such, they must meet Canadian medical, criminal, and security requirements. Additionally, Canada does not have family reunification programs for extended family members, including adult siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Exceptions apply for minor orphaned siblings, nieces, nephews, and grandchildren. If your extended family members are refugees themselves, they may be eligible for Canada’s private sponsorship programs.

How to apply for family reunification?

All family reunification processes must start from within Canada. You can find detailed information about requirements and application packages, including the forms that can be downloaded for free at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s website.

Newly arrived resettled refugees

Guide to Reunite Family Members Abroad under the One-Year Window of Opportunity Provision (IMM 5578) –

Person whose refugee claim has been accepted

Applying for Permanent Residence from within Canada: Protected Persons and Convention Refugees 

Permanent resident in Canada (including refugees) 

Sponsor your spouse, partner or child: about the process –

Sponsor your parents and grandparents: About the process –

Who can help you in the family reunification process?

You can seek assistance and individual counselling free of charge from organizations listed on the following website.

Please be informed that UNHCR in Canada does not offer individual counselling on family reunification.

If you do not know where your family is, you can contact the Canadian Red Cross’ Restoring Family Links programwhich helps people in Canada connect with immediate family members after separation due to armed conflict, natural disaster, migration and other humanitarian crises.

Further information on family reunification