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Expected to Work/Barriers to Full Employment Policy & Procedures

Published Date: September 24, 2012
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04 Special Groups

Persons with Immigration Status

Immigration Status – Family Class (Sponsored)


Income Support, Training and Health Benefits Regulation, section 28


The length of undertaking for sponsorship agreements does not exceed 10 years. If social assistance benefits are granted at any point during the validity of a given undertaking, a sponsor is considered in default of their sponsorship obligations regardless of when this information comes to light. 

The sponsor and co-signer, if applicable, have a financial obligation to support the person or persons they have agreed to sponsor. The sponsor’s income and assets are used to calculate eligibility unless there has been abandonment or abuse.

Applicants are not eligible for Income Support (IS) if the sponsor and the sponsored immigrant have sufficient combined income and assets to meet the basic needs of the sponsor and the sponsored immigrant as allowed under Income Support, Training and Health Benefit (ISTHB) Regulation and IS policy (see Eligibility below). 

Before responsibility and eligibility can be determined, a sponsored immigrant must:

  • Bring their sponsor to the intake interview and
  • Provide copies of their sponsorship documents.

The sponsor must:

  • Declare their financial circumstances and
  • Present documentation to substantiate their financial circumstances.

In instances where the sponsor cannot or will not substantiate their financial situation, the applicant is not eligible.

In exceptional cases the sponsor may not be required to attend the intake interview or support the applicant if:

  • The sponsor has abandoned the applicant and the worker is satisfied reasonable efforts have been made by the immigrant to secure financial support from their sponsor, or
  • The applicant has been neglected or abused by the sponsor (may be physical, sexual or emotional abuse with substantiation such as a police report, medical report or shelter report).

Sponsored Immigrant Enters Alberta from Another Province

A sponsored immigrant is not eligible for IS if they enter Alberta from another province and have left their sponsor in the other province, unless there are exceptional circumstances (i.e., they are fleeing a situation of abuse). The applicant is advised to contact their sponsor to obtain assistance to return home. Funds may be issued to the applicant as a Transient so they may return to their sponsor, if the applicant is destitute and:

  • The sponsor cannot be reached or
  • The sponsor cannot or will not send money to the applicant and
  • The applicant’s immigration status has been confirmed.


When the applicant’s immigration status is confirmed, the worker considers:

  • The circumstances which led to the sponsor’s inability to support the applicant. 
  • The applicant and sponsor’s assets and income according to ISTHB Regulation.
  • Manually calculates a budget for the sponsor and the members of their household unit (not including the applicant) based on Core Shelter (see below), Core Essential and any required supplementary benefits.
  • Deducts all of the sponsor’s income from their needs. (An earnings exemption is not given to determine eligibility.)
  • Manually calculates a budget for the applicant based on Core Essential and any required supplementary benefits.

Core Shelter is considered for the applicant only if:

  • The applicant is a relative of the sponsor and therefore eligible for $100 for core shelter or
  • The applicant must live independently because of an abusive situation or
  • The applicant must live independently because of abandonment by the sponsor or
  • The applicant’s medical condition requires they reside in a nursing home or designated facility or
  • The sponsor is a single IS recipient and is responsible for 2 or more sponsored individuals. In these situations, Core Shelter is considered for the applicants if they are a party to the lease or rental agreement, with the sponsor.

If the combined income of the applicant and the sponsor is not sufficient to meet the applicant’s needs, the worker issues only the difference to the applicant, up to the maximum allowed in ISTHB Regulation and IS policy.

Financial support from the sponsor is recorded using Income Code 4399 Other Income.

If the sponsor and applicant are both on IS and have separate files, and the sponsor is working and receiving a supplement to their earnings, the earnings exemption is not deducted as income from the applicant’s budget.

The applicant qualifies only for those health benefits the sponsor is unable to provide (e.g., if the sponsor is providing Alberta Health Insurance coverage, these benefits will not be duplicated).

Sponsorship Default
A sponsorship default exists under the following conditions:

  • Alberta Works Service Centre provides a benefit under the Income and Employment Supports Act, and
  • The benefit is granted to a person who obtained permanent resident status as a member of the Family Class, and
  • The benefit is granted within the sponsorship period (the sponsor’s length of undertaking).

Based on federal legislation, provincial Community and Social Services staff do not have discretion to determine if a default has occurred. Community and Social Services staff must inform CIC when benefits have been issued to a Family Class sponsored immigrant in order that CIC may determine if the client is in default and not eligible to sponsor again.

Community and Social Services may recover the cost of benefits paid on behalf of Family Class sponsored immigrants and their dependants where they have received Income Support benefits during their sponsorship period (undertaking).

An overpayment can be calculated at any point after Community and Social Services has determined a sponsorship debt exists and has notified the Case Processing Centre – Mississauga (CPC-M).

Information should already be on file from CPC-M (completed Section 2 EMP 3828A Request for Immigration Status Information (Family Class)) confirming: 

  • Whether a Sponsorship Undertaking exists, 
  • Whether the Undertaking was approved under new or old regulations, 
  • The date sponsorship ends, and
  • The name and last known address of the sponsor and co-signer (if applicable).

Procedures for Notifying CIC of a Sponsorship Debt
The following procedures apply only to Family Class sponsorship.

When the conditions of a sponsorship debt exist, the worker:

  1. Completes the EMP 3828B Notification of Sponsorship Debt.

    Workers should use information from the completed EMP 3828A Request for Family Class Information form that is already on file from verifying the applicant’s immigration status.

    • Indicates to the CPC-M, by checking “Yes” or “No” in the appropriate box, whether or not to send a letter to the sponsor advising them of their sponsorship default.
    • Community and Social Services may not wish to send a default notification letter in situations where the applicant’s safety may be in question (i.e., escaping abuse).
  2. Faxes the EMP 3828B Request for Family Class Information to the CPC-M to notify them of the sponsorship debt.

    Once notification of sponsorship debt is received, CPC-M will send a default notification letter to the sponsor confirming the obligations of sponsorship and informing the sponsor of the immediate and potential consequences of default.

  3. Enters Alert Code 27 Sponsored Immigrant on CCD.

Procedures For Repayment Of Debts By Defaulting Sponsor

When Community and Social Services has determined a sponsorship debt exists, or when a defaulting sponsor contacts Community and Social Services to repay the debt owed to the province:

  1. Staff calculate the total benefits issued, including health benefits.
    • If the sponsor was part of the sponsored immigrant’s household unit (spouse/ partner) at the time of the debt, the debt is recovered at 50%.
    • If the sponsor was not part of the sponsored immigrant’s household unit (spouse/partner), the debt is recovered at 100%.
  2. As the overpayment can only be entered into the Non-IS Debt Group portfolio by Service Alberta, the worker must first notify the defaulting sponsor in writing (by manually creating a letter) of:

    • The amount of the overpayment,
    • The period of the overpayment, 
    • The reason for the overpayment, and
    • The right to appeal.

    The worker’s name and phone number are included in the letter in case the defaulting sponsor requires more information or wishes to appeal.

  3. Once the appeal period has elapsed or the appeal has been concluded by the Income and Employment Supports Appeal Panel, the worker must notify the defaulting sponsor in writing (by manually creating a letter) that the overpayment is now a debt owing to the government and that full (or partial) payment can be made at any Service Centre or by mailing payment directly to:

    Service Alberta
    Collections Unit
    PO Box 11417
    Edmonton AB T5J 3E4

    The Service Centre receiving the payment is responsible to issue a receipt to the third party debtor.

  4. The worker sends the information requested on the EMP 3898 Service Alberta Third Party Debt Information form to Service Alberta at

  5. Service Alberta enters the overpayment as a Non-IS Debt Group in the Recoveries System and sends an Initial Collection Letter (system generated).

  6. When the debt is paid in full (for active Income Support clients this would only be when the sponsorship period (undertaking) has expired), Service Alberta:
    • Advises CIC (by fax, if requested by the defaulting sponsor) that the debt is paid in full, and
    • Provides a copy of this confirmation to the defaulting sponsor (if requested by the defaulting sponsor).

    CIC may be notified by faxing CIC at 905-803-7833 or completing any forms supplied by CIC.

  7. The worker can delete Alert Code 27 Sponsored Immigrant from CCD.