Canada Border Services Agency or IRCC officers may be interested in a relationship you had before you landed. Specifically, if you sponsor a spouse after entering Canada on a visa, an officer may form the impression that you were in a common-law relationship for one year before you entered Canada on that visa. That impression could lead to a finding of a material misrepresentation (defined at subsection 40 of Immigration Refugee Protection Act ).
Why do officers care? Failing to disclose such a relationship may have cut off a line of inquiry that would have affected whether or not you should have been issued a visa. For example, in the case of sponsoring a spouse, you may have indicated that you lived together for more than one year before you landed as a permanent resident. Such a living arrangement would be deemed to be a common law relationship under Immigration Refugee Protection Act. Such a relationship would normally require a medical and police check of your common law partner prior to your obtaining permanent resident status. This was not done since the immigration authorities were not informed of the relationship. If your common law partner had a criminal conviction or serious medical condition, your permanent resident status may have been denied.
If faced with an investigation of a non-disclosed relationship, beware that an officer would presume that you intentionally hid the existence of such a relationship because the disclosure of the relationship may have adversely affected your chances of landing as a permanent resident. Since officers presume an intention to hide the relationship, the standard of evidence they required to deem a relationship to be a common law one is quite low.
In some cases the mere mentioning on an application – without proof – that you lived for one year with someone that you were in love with can trigger an allegation of being in a common law relationship. This mentioning of living together for one year on an immigration form need not be accompanied by evidence typically required such as: joint insurance policies, wills, anything naming your partner as beneficiary, documents showing travel together, identity documents showing same address, documents showing joint ownership of possessions, joint mortgage/loan, joint lease/rental agreement, joint bank accounts/statements. Rather, only the mentioning of living together would be sufficient to incline an officer to investigate you.
Then, based on your failure to mention an allegedly common law relationship, an officer would initiate the steps to issue you an exclusion order, accompanied by a five year ban on being in Canada.
Your only hope in such situations would be to show that you were not in a common law relationship: for example, showing that you had multiple sexual partners, that you did not present the person you lived with as an exclusive boyfriend or girlfriend to friends and family, that you did not share financial responsibilities, and that you lived with other persons during the one year prior to landing.
If faced with such an allegation, you may need professional legal advice. We’re here to help in such situations.