The Qualifications For Common Law And Conjugal Partners When Sponsoring A Spouse To Canada.
To qualify as common-law partners you have to live together in a conjugal relationship for a period of 12 months preceding your application. A conjugal relationship means more than simply a sexual relationship. It means that you’ve made a commitment to each other to put your lives together and that includes mutual exclusivity of sexual partners. It also means putting your financial life together and your households together so that you’re living together. We would look for indicators of these relationships such as joint wills, and naming the other person as a beneficiary on insurance programs. We look for both names on household accounts or credit cards.
The 12 months of being in a conjugal relationship doesn’t have to occur immediately before the application date. There may be circumstances where people have lived together for a few years and one party has come back to Canada and the other party has remained overseas. Nine months later, the person who has come to Canada may decide to sponsor his common-law partner. As long as the 12 months of the relationship precedes the application it will be acceptable.
Originally, the conjugal partner category was set up for individuals who were not able to marry due to legal constraints. It covered individuals such as gays and lesbians who couldn’t marry in their home jurisdiction or people who, because of religious or social reasons, were not able to marry in another country. The conjugal partners have the same criteria that common-law partners have in that they have to have been in a conjugal relationship for at least 12 months preceding the application for permanent residence. And, the other criterion is that the one individual lives in Canada and the other individual lives outside of Canada. In this case, the applicant would be outside of Canada while the sponsor was in Canada.
These types of applications often have problems at the visa offices in proving that there has been an ongoing conjugal relationship. In those types of cases, it’s essential that timelines be very clearly laid out, along with documentation such as airline tickets showing visits back and forth, or documentation such as pictures, telephone bills, and e-mail—anything proving the relationship. Letters from friends or family could indicate how long the couple has been in a relationship and that other people believed it was a conjugal relationship.
Another situation is that in which both individuals are foreign nationals and one of the foreign nationals plans to apply for permanent residence. It’s very important for that person to indicate that they have been in a common-law or conjugal relationship prior to getting their landing. The spouse, whether common-law, conjugal or married, has to be examined medically and for security grounds. If the person who first comes to Canada tries to sponsor his spouse 9 months later and has not named her on his own original application, he could be precluded from sponsoring his spouse for life. His spouse cannot be considered a member of the family class unless they are identified, and examined prior to the sponsoring spouse getting their permanent residence to Canada.
A person can still make a further application for his spouse on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, but there’s no guarantee that it will be granted. That is a discretionary decision made by the Immigration Department and there’s no guarantee that the Immigration Department or the visa office overseas is going to accept it.