“Life would still present them with other moral trials, of course, but that no longer mattered: they were both on the other shore.” -Gabriel García Márquez
The current global pandemic has brought a sense of urgency when it comes to family reunification matters in immigration law. However, amidst the uncertainties, people are still striving to keep motivated based on their employment options, unique relationships, and several other commitments. It is indeed the time for legal representation to include the best practices and have sensitivity to such unique circumstances. This will help in creating awareness of the emerging policies and procedures today.
A significant question about sponsorship files is whether to continue with an application in the Spouse or Common-Law Partner in Canada Class or in the Family Class. This is considered highly important during the pandemic considering the international and global travel restrictions.
Can the Spouse/Partner Enter Canada?
The Spouse or Common-Law Partner in Canada Class requires the spouse/partner to travel to Canada and be cohabiting with the sponsor, starting from the application until granted with permanent residence.
It is crucial first to determine if the proposed applicant for permanent residence is exempted from the current implementing travel restrictions. They will be allowed to be with their Canadian partners or spouses if they have such travel exemptions. The good thing is that the initial approach to exemptions from specific border restrictions is now replaced by a more comprehensive definition of the qualifying family relationships.
Qualifying Family Relationships
There are mainly two family relationships that allow entry to Canada to gain access to the Spouse or Common-Law Partner’s application process. These are the immediate family and extended family. It is essential to distinguish the difference between the two because each category is subjected to a particular separate entry process.
The immediate family comprises spouses of the same or opposite sex who are legally married. Also included in the immediate family category are common-law partners, who can be a couple of the same or opposite sex who have cohabited for at least a year.
Conjugal partners are not included in the immediate family category, although they are recognized as members of the Family class.
In line with the implementation of border restrictions, some debates and concerns arise about recognizing weddings conducted via Zoom or Skype. These marriages, along with proxy marriages, are also not included in the Family class.
On the other hand, extended family members are composed of people who are engaged in an exclusive dating relationship for at least a year and have been personally meeting during the relationship.
But how will you define an exclusive dating relationship? It refers to a romantic relationship with a permanent resident or Canadian citizen.
The following are examples of an exclusive dating relationship:
- Boyfriends or girlfriends, or any other couple involved in an intimate and loving relationship
- Committed romantic partners for at least one year and are living together, yet don’t meet the common-law definition
Therefore, conjugal partners, or couples who are in a committed and exclusive relationship for at least one year, who are neither married or cannot prove at least one year of cohabitation, must be included under the extended family category.
Another critical element of an exclusive dating relationship is that online relationships are excluded. It is pointed out in the requirement that the parties or couple must be physically present at some point during the relationship. However, there is no assigned threshold of physical presence.
In addition, the extended family member category also includes the fiancé. This type of relationship was removed from the recognition of Canada’s immigration policies under the implementation of IRPA in 2002. Before IRPA, fiancés are described by the Immigration Regulations as those who agree to marry their respective sponsors within 90 days after their entry in Canada. There should be no impediment to the marriage, as required.
About Processes and Proof of Relationships
There are separate processes for the entry of immediate family of Canadians or permanent residents, as well as for the extended family. These processes are stated outside of the standard requirements for eTAs and temporary resident visas. One similarity to the processes for immediate family and extended family is that they need to stay in Canada for more than 15 days. They should also undergo a 14-day quarantine plan. The contact details of the spouse or partner living in Canada should always be for verification of the relationship once the traveller arrives in the country.
This pandemic greatly impacts different processes in our lives today. Included in these processes are Spousal Sponsorship Developments and Strategies in Canada. We’re happy to share great information about it to help you become updated with the current immigration guidelines, restrictions, and more.
This article is a four-part series, so keep posted with our next blog post.
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