If you are a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident, you may wish to sponsor your partner to immigrate to Canada and live with you. There are instances when Canadian citizens or permanent residents, who want their partners to immigrate, may not be married to that partner or be in a common-law relationship. These partners can be sponsored as ‘conjugal partners’ as long as they meet the criteria set by the IRCC for assessing such relationships for immigration purposes. 

Two types of relationships between unmarried couples are recognized by Canada, namely, conjugal partners and common law partners. If you fit into one of the two categories mentioned above, the absence of a legal marriage will not be a barrier between your partner and you living your life together in Canada. 

What Is The Difference Between Common-Law Partners And Conjugal Partners? 

Many often wonder what the differences are between common-law and conjugal partners because, at the end of the day, both are relationships that are not legally binded through marriage. So, to simplify things: 

A common-law partner is: 

  • Not married to you (legally) 
  • Is 18 years of age or older 
  • Can be of any gender 
  • Has been living with you for at least 12 months, consecutively. To simplify this:

                    A. You have been living together for 12 months continuously. If you have spent time apart, it must be short. 

                    B. You or your partner left home only for:

        • Short business or work trips
        • Temporary family situations 

                   C. if you did spend some time apart, it was: 

        • short 
        • temporary 

* if one partner chooses to put an end to this relationship, the partnership is considered to be over by the government. 

Whereas, a conjugal partner is someone who: 

  • Lives outside of Canada 
  • In a relationship with a said partner for at least 12 months 
  • Has not been able to live with the sponsor because of reasons that are beyond their control. For example, immigration barriers, sexual orientation or religious reasons. 

The person you decide to sponsor as a conjugal partner must NOT be living in Canada. 

Conjugal-Partner Sponsorship: 

If you wish to sponsor your conjugal partner, you must ensure that your partner: 

  • Lives outside of Canada 
  • Has been in a relationship with you for at least 12 months 
  • And you have an attachment towards each other that is not just physical but also in the form of an interdependent relationship 
  • The reason for you and your partner not living together as a couple is beyond your control. This can be because of religious reasons, immigration problems or because of your and your partner’s sexual orientation. 

How Does The IRCC Determine That A Conjugal Relationship Exists Between Two People? 

To determine the relationship between ‘conjugal partners’, the IRCC considers different factors. These factors include: 

  • Mutual commitment towards each other’s life 
  • A long-term relationship which is intended to be permanent 
  • Exclusive relationships – either of the partners should not be in a different conjugal relationship 
  • Depending on each other for support in terms of physical, social, emotional and financial aspects 
  • Being sexually exclusive with each other 
  • Being regarded as couples wherever they go and presenting each other as life partners 
  • Bearing children or taking care of them together. 

Once the IRCC has taken the factors above into consideration, they will be able to best assist and recognize a relationship as conjugal. 

Sponsoring A Fiance:

Conjugal partners and their sponsorship is based on evidence and a living relationship that is not legally binded. So if you are engaged to somebody and want to sponsor them to come live in Canada, your relationship will not fall under the conjugal category. According to the IRCC, a relationship is considered conjugal because the relationship is already marriage-like. For that, they look for different factors that can serve as evidence, such as a shared life together, legal possessions under both of their names, owning properties and more. For example, if you have named each other as beneficiaries in insurance policies or simple bank work. Situations like this make it very easy for a couple to pass as a conjugal relationship in the books of the IRCC. Moreover, the conjugal category was specifically introduced for people who could not legally marry or live together. Hence, it cannot be used for a fiance. Canadian law has strict policies to determine genuine couples for this category. 

Additional Documents That Could Be Required:

When you’re trying to pass your relationship as a conjugal partnership, you will not show evidence that can help simplify and reason why you have not been able to get married, live together or qualify for a common-law partnership. This may require you to present additional documents as evidence to justify your situation. 

If you find yourself running around in circles and spiralling as you try to figure out how to proceed with your application, immigration lawyers in Toronto, such as those from Chaudhary Law, can help you build a solid case. Our sponsorship lawyers can help you through a conjugal partner sponsorship application with ease. Book your consultation today!

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