Sponsoring a common-law partner to join you in Canada means proving to immigration authorities that you are in a conjugal relationship, not one of convenience. The Immigration & Refugee Protection Regulations says that these types of partners lived together, or cohabited, for at least a year.
The IRPR also emphasizes that the couple should be at least 18 years old, although the relationship could have started earlier. Here are things you should discuss with a Canada immigration consultant regarding common-law marriages.
How do you prove cohabitation?
If two people aged 18 and up live together, had combined their bills, groceries, rent, or other expenses, and had done so for a year, they could qualify as a common-law couple. Any separation should be temporary, like weeks of travel for work or family reasons, and short-term.
They must also show proof that even while they are apart, the relationship is continuing. For example, a couple with one party in the home country and another in Canada must show letters, e-mails, or other items that show they are in constant contact and intend to reunite.
What documents do IRPR officers examine?
As proof of a relationship, you can provide copies of deeds showing joint ownership, leases or utility bills in both your names and insurance policies or other identification documents that show both of you as debtors. Unless IRPR asks you to submit originals, anything sent over should be certified true copies because they will not return these to you.
Complications in relationships
It could be relatively easy to prove common-law partnerships. Sometimes, though, there are relationships that have complications that could make it tricky to succeed in a spousal sponsorship application to Canada. Here are some ways to address these.
If one party is in Canada and the other is overseas
Both parties must complete IMM5532e and provide e-mails, communications, proof of visits, and other ways to show the long-distance relationship’s validity. The longer the separation, the more challenging it becomes to prove a relationship to immigration authorities, so you should work towards reuniting as soon as possible.
One party had a previous common-law relationship
The couple must prove to immigration authorities that the previous relationship has ended. Furthermore, they must also provide proof that they are both actively involved in their current relationship. Confirming a relationship has concluded means you should provide evidence that one of the people in the first relationship had wanted it to end.
One party is legally married to someone else
The legally married person must have lived apart and had no conjugal relationship with their spouse for at least a year. Immigration might also ask things like a signed formal declaration of the end of the legal marriage or proof of a separation agreement. The IRPR can also take as proof a court order outlining child custody or the change of beneficiary documents like the names on insurance policies.
One party is legally separated from someone else
The couple seeking sponsorship must prove that the former conjugal partnership did not end just for immigration purposes. The couple must prove that they are genuinely in a relationship. They would also need to provide additional documentation because of this.
Types of disallowed relationships
Incestuous relationships cannot be considered common-law partnerships. Distant cousins might become common-law spouses, but near relations to a certain degree of consanguinity are not eligible. Furthermore, both partners must be at least 18 years old and had lived together for at least a year. Finally, neither party should have been detained or incarcerated due to acts considered as crimes under Canada’s criminal code.
Successful sponsorship rests on the couple’s ability to provide evidence that they are in a continuing partnership. Should there be complications in their circumstances, they should prove that IRPR officials must emphasize their relationship rather than complicating factors. Consulting an immigration expert would greatly help.
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