It depends on the relative that you are sponsoring. If you are applying to sponsor your parent or grandparent or applying for a super visa for them to visit Canada then you do need to meet a Minimum Necessary Income (“MNI”) requirement.
If you are sponsoring your spouse or common-law partner, you do not need to demonstrate that you meet the MNI requirement.
Minimum Income Requirement
The MNI is a minimum income threshold that the Canadian government publishes every year based on Canada’s Low Income Cut-off (“LICO”) plus 30%. This number takes into account family size and the estimated cost of supporting a parent or grandparent if they successfully immigrate to Canada.
When you apply to sponsor a parent or grandparent, you commit to financially supporting them for 20 years. This means that during that 20 year period after they become Canadian permanent residents, they will not be able to collect Canadian social assistance and you will be responsible for any health and medical care costs that are not covered by public health care.
You must meet the MNI for the three taxation years that came before the date you are filing the application. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC”) can access your tax records, if you provide them with consent, and can determine whether you meet the necessary income requirement when you apply. Otherwise, you can complete a form detailing your income and provide Notices of Assessment for the last three tax years.
If you have not filed taxes in the three years before your application, it is recommended that you complete your tax filings first before you apply. If not, you will be refused for not meeting basic requirements of a sponsor.
If you have a co-signer to the application (i.e. a sibling or a spouse), their income will be added to yours to determine whether you meet the cut-off together. Your co-signer will also have to either provide their consent to IRCC to check their tax records, or provide information about their finances and copies of their Notices of Assessment.
The government publishes a table of MNI values on their website, which is usually updated once a year. The MNI values are based on family size, including yourself. In determining your family size, you must include yourself, your spouse or common-law partner, any dependent children you have, the number of family members you are applying to sponsor and any of their dependent family members.
For example, if you are married with two children and you want to sponsor both of your parents, your family size is six people for the purpose of determining whether you meet the income threshold.
In 2018, the MNI ranges from approximately $39,000 for a family of two (i.e. you and one parent or grandparent being sponsored) to approximately $85,000 for a family of seven (i.e. you, a spouse, three children and two parents being sponsored). In addition to the $85,000 threshold, approximately $8600 is added for every additional family member.
You are required to maintain income that meets the MNI value for your family size on the day you sign and submit the application until the application has been processed and your family member has become a Canadian permanent resident. It is important to ensure that you continue to meet this requirement as financial ability to support your relative can be reassessed at any time during the application process. If your income falls below the MNI, your application could be refused.
Remember, the financial undertaking that you sign on for is serious and long-term. You cannot change your mind and revoke your undertaking and it does not go away even if your parent or grandparent becomes a Canadian citizen, moves to another province, stops speaking with you or your financial situation deteriorates. If your family member receives any social assistance payments within 20 years of becoming permanent residents, you will be accountable to repay the government and will be considered in default of your financial obligations.