All sponsors are required to sign an undertaking to provide the sponsored person with the basic requirements from the day they enter Canada until the term of the undertaking terminates. The undertaking is a contract between the sponsor(s) and CIC that the sponsor will repay the government for any social assistance payments made to the sponsored person. Sponsors remain obligated to the undertaking agreement for the entire period of the contract, even in a change of circumstances such as marital breakdown, separation, divorce, or a financial change in circumstances.
In the case of a dependent child under the age of 22 years, of the sponsor or the spouse, common-law partner, or conjugal partner, the obligation commences on the day that the child becomes a permanent resident of Canada for the period of 10 years or until the child reaches the age of 22 years, whichever is earlier. In the province of Quebec, the length of this undertaking is different.
In the case of a dependent child over the age of 22 years, of the sponsor or the spouse, common-law partner, or conjugal partner, the obligation commences on the day that the dependent child becomes a permanent resident, for a period of three (3) years.
In the case of parents and grandparents, the sponsorship obligation extends for a period of 20 years from the date in which the member of the family class becomes a permanent resident. For all other family members, the obligation is of a duration of 10 years.
The Supreme Court of Canada, in its 2011 judgment of Attorney-General of Canada vs. Mavi, the court decided that while a sponsor’s obligation to reimburse the state for benefits collected by his or her relatives can be deferred in some circumstances, it cannot be wiped off the books entirely.