Q: I have a 36-year-old brother back home who probably does not qualify under the independent category. He is separated and was looking after my father who just passed away. He is the last surviving member of our family and is also the godfather of my oldest son. In addition, I have another brother in Toronto and we are both Canadian citizens. Can we sponsor him?
A: My condolences for your dad. Canadians can sponsor their brothers and sisters only if they are orphaned, under 18, and single. Adult siblings can only be sponsored indirectly.
For example, if you were sponsoring a parent, they could include their child who is under 22 and single.
They could also include a child who is over 22 if the child was substantially dependent on their parent since before they turned 22 and if they have been in continuous full time studies or pursuing vocational training since turning 22.
Since your brother was married and probably left school long ago, he is out of luck here.
You describe him as a “last surviving member”. Our laws allow you to sponsor one relative regardless of the relationship provided that you are alone in Canada and that you have no relatives abroad who you are eligible to sponsor.
In other words, Canadian immigration law serves the lonely Canadian, not the lonely foreigner.
Since you have a Canadian brother, and a spouse and child who I assume are also Canadian, you are not alone here and therefore cannot sponsor your brother under this provision.
If your brother is close to the 67-point passing mark for our Federal Skilled Worker Class (i.e. independent category) he might try to close the gap.
He could get additional points if he has an HRSDC-approved Canadian job offer waiting for him when he gets landed. He can also boost his points by obtaining a work permit and gaining one year of Canadian work experience or acquiring two years of studies here.
He can apply even if he is short on points. However I would discourage this since we have 850,000 applicants in the backlog many of whom have far more than 67 points.
He can also apply for permanent residence on humanitarian grounds. (Yes, this is possible from overseas, albeit uncommon.) I would only recommend this in the most unusual and compelling circumstances and where there can be no question of how he will support himself here.
If he remarries, he can come as the dependent of his wife if she qualifies for permanent residence. I would also check his qualifications against each provincial nominee program. This is a common, and clearly tough, situation but not one that is hopeless.