Notice: As part of special measures for Afghanistan and Ukraine, Canada is prioritizing family reunification for Afghan and Ukrainian nationals. For more details, please consult: Program delivery update: Special measures for Afghanistan – Canada.ca and Ukraine: Program-specific special measures – Canada.ca
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 may take advantage of the One-Year Window of Opportunity Provision. This provision 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.
For program eligibility, 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. Families in Canada applying to reunite through the One-Year Window of Opportunity Provision do not have to meet financial requirements. Those joining families in Canada through this program may benefit from services for resettled refugees.
If you are a permanent resident or refugee in Canada and meet certain requirements, you may apply and benefit from the Family Class Immigration program. These requirements include not receiving social assistance for reasons other than a disability and funds to provide basic needs of any persons you want to sponsor.
You may apply to be reunited with the following family members:
- Spouse: legally recognized spouse, common-law, or conjugal partner (including same-sex relationships). Polygamous marriages are not legal in Canada and are an offence under the Criminal Code of Canada.
- 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: Canada has limited spaces to sponsor 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. 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:
Who can help you in the family reunification process?
You can seek assistance and individual counselling free of charge from organizations listed on our Where to seek help page.
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 program, which helps people in Canada connect with immediate family members after separation due to armed conflict, natural disaster, migration and other humanitarian crises.