Helping Family While Helping Yourself

  • By Jillian Taylor-Mancusi


Nobody likes to be apart from their family, and being separated from your family can be even more difficult when they live in another country.

Today I was asked about dealing with debt while needing to sponsor a loved one from another country. The burden of dealing with financial difficulty can be very stressful. Add to that burden, the strain of knowing that your loved ones may be in jeopardy in a faraway land, and the stress may be unbearable.

There are options for dealing with your debt. Filing an Assignment in Bankruptcy or a Consumer Proposal are just two.

If bankruptcy is your best option for a fresh start, you may want to look into sponsoring your loved ones before filing the bankruptcy. However, you should be aware that the sponsorship process could take over a year.

Alternatively, you may want to file the bankruptcy and then wait until you are discharged before you start the sponsorship process. For a first time bankrupt the discharge could be 9 to 21 months away. You may not sponsor a relative if you have declared bankruptcy and have not been released (that is discharged) from the bankruptcy.

The second option is to file a Consumer Proposal. In short, it is a debt repayment plan where you offer to pay the creditors back either in full or a percentage of what is owed. A consumer proposal is under the same legislation as a bankruptcy, but it is not bankruptcy and likely will not affect the sponsorship of your family.

On the other hand, if you are applying for Canadian citizenship or permanent residency and are faced with unsurmountable debt, whether or not you file a bankruptcy or a consumer proposal should not have an impact on your application for citizenship. The filing of bankruptcy or a consumer proposal is not listed as being prohibited. Of course there are always exceptions to every rule. If you have questions regarding the application for yourself or your family, you should contact Citizenship and Immigration Canada directly.

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