Does Elderly Aunt’s Immigration win Re-define Canadian “Family” for Sponsorship?

After five years of rejections from Citizenship and Immigration Canada, an 83-year-old British Columbia resident named Surjit Bhandal will be allowed to stay in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

Aunt Sponsorship

Photo from the Times Colonist

Bhandal is originally from India, where she has no family. Her sister-in-law is disabled, and Bhandal has raised her two nephews since birth.
Canada allows individuals who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents to sponsor their family members to come to Canada as permanent residents themselves. However, there are very strict rules regarding who can be sponsored, and aunts are not on the list of relatives that are considered close enough to be sponsored to come to Canada.

Aunts typically not allowed to be sponsored to come to Canada

Her nephews call her Mother. The case caught the attention of an NDP MP who rallied behind her, and 5,000 letters and e-mails were sent to the government about the case.

The MP, Randall Garrison, was quoted in the Times Colonist as saying, “We don’t actually need a change to the law or or the regulations. We just need an understanding of diverse families and this is a precedent. My only regret is that it took the Conservatives so long to come to the right conclusion.”

Unfortunately, there have been many people in similar family situations who haven’t been successful in their bid to re-unite in Canada. It’s great when the immigration system is able to look at a case based on the people involved and their story, but this is a rare occurrence.

Do you want to sponsor a family member to come to Canada?

We can help you! Canada’s family reunification program allows Canadian citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their spouses and family members for permanent residency. If this is something you’re interested in, give us a call for an assessment of your case.


Michael Niren

About Michael Niren

Michael is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section and the Associate Member of the American Bar Association. Read more

8 thoughts on “Does Elderly Aunt’s Immigration win Re-define Canadian “Family” for Sponsorship?

  1. Mary

    Hi. My boyfriend and I are about to get married. We had a child together but he did not declare him on his entry to canada. Is it true he can sponsor me and I can still bring our child as my dependent and not his?

    1. Muga Rajbhandari

      Hello Mary. In order to give you the proper advice, we will need to know a lot more about the situation. For example, you did not mention the citizenship of your self, your husband or your child. I am going to suggest that you contact us to make an appointment to talk with one of our immigration professionals who will be able to plan the best strategy for you and your family. You can book an appointment by calling us at 1-855-886-8472 or online at
      Regards, Muga

  2. Mayita

    Hi, I was raised by my aunt and mom as my parents separated when I was very little. My mom worked and my aunt took care of me. So I consider my aunt more my mom than my own mom.

    I would like to sponsor both of them. I know I can sponsor my mom, but I would like to sponsor my aunt as well.

    Do you have any ideas how?

    1. Vahe Mirzoyan

      Hello Mayita. I understand how important it is for you to have both important people in your life, with you. Your mom has several options that you can use, Parental Sponsorship or a Super Visa. Your aunt on the other hand would have to come into Canada on her own merit. If you want us to take a look at your aunt’s situation I am going to suggest that you contact us to make an appointment to talk with one of our immigration professionals who will be able to plan the best strategy for your aunt to take to get to Canada. You can book an appointment by calling us at 1-855-886-8472 or online at
      Regards, Vahe

  3. Myrna Walker

    Hi Sir:
    How can I sponsor my niece who is already here in Canada. She is under working permit and now living with me in Ottawa and now having 4 months old baby.The baby born here in Ottawa as I understand the baby is a citizen of Canada.Now I cannot look after the baby if my niece will be send back to my country Philippines after her status finished. Is there any possibility that I can sponsor my niece. Thanks a lot if you can give me an answer.
    Myrna Walker

    1. Vahe Mirzoyan

      Thank you for your inquiry Myrna. I am really glad that you contacted us.

      As her Aunt, you are eligible to sponsor her. There are many factors that are involved in a sponsorship, and it is important to get everything done correctly especially since a baby is involved.

      It must be very stressful not knowing exactly what to do.

      Please Myrna, complete this form for me it is just a quick and easy way for me to learn more details about you and your niece’s situation so that I will be able to advise you accurately and determine the best way for her and her baby to stay here in Canada.


  4. sarah

    How can I sponsor undeclared child?

    1. owen

      Hello Sarah,

      Thanks for the question. We would be able to assist you through the process of sponsoring this child, and it seems like this may be a complex case because of a lack of documentation regarding the legal parents of this child, and so it would be highly advisable to speak with one of our experienced immigration lawyers. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any further questions. Check out this link for more information on family sponsorship



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