Marrying a Non-Canadian During the Coronavirus Pandemic

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Marry during coronavirus pandemicSophia, a Canadian citizen, intends to marry an American citizen. Of course, the coronavirus pandemic has made everything awkward. For example, her future spouse may not travel to Canada for the marriage. Consequently, Sophia wonders if they could consider marriage by proxy. Of course, she wants to ensure the current situation won’t prevent her from being with her spouse or initiating the immigration process. Consequently, she wonders if marrying a non-Canadian during the coronavirus pandemic makes sense.

About 20% of landed immigrants fall under spousal immigration. Thus, we could assume spousal sponsorship is a popular immigration option for Canada. Of course, we could attribute this to the fact that many Canadians are first or second-generation immigrants. Also, Canadians travel abroad a lot and sometimes fall in love with foreign nationals. Fake marriages could be another contributing factor to this large proportion. The process of spousal immigration is straightforward in most cases. However, the coronavirus pandemic has caused several issues. This article is an effort to bring those issues to your attention and offer potential solutions.

Marriage by proxy is not an option.

You may face travel restrictions if you intend to marry a non-Canadian during the coronavirus pandemic. Unfortunately, most foreign nationals may not travel to Canada as of writing this article. Similarly, Canadians have limited options for travelling abroad.

Consequently, you may think, why not marry by proxy. Unfortunately, this is not an option. At least three paragraphs of the Immigration Regulations do not recognize a marriage by proxy (practitioners see R117(9)(c.1), R125(1)(c.1) and R5(c)). According to these provisions, both spouses must be present at the exact location at the time of marriage.  With some exceptions for the Canadian armed forces, marriage by proxy or relatively remote marriage is not an option for immigration to Canada. Unfortunately, you may not even travel to Canada to be with your spouse if the marriage is not valid under the Immigration Regulations.

Travel restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic

When writing this article, American citizens may not travel to Canada (some exceptions apply). However, Canadian citizens may go to the US by air only. Consequently, if you intend to marry a US citizen, you could consider this an option. Also, Canadians may travel to European Union countries. Therefore, marrying an EU citizen could take place in their country. However, make sure your marriage is legal, where it takes place. Also, keep an eye on the current fluid situation as travel restrictions could change.

Common-law partnership as an alternative to marriage

Under the Immigration Regulations, you are common-law partners if you have cohabited for at least one year. Of course, you need to show intimacy and a financial and emotional dependency on each other. If you meet these requirements, you probably do not need to marry each other to immigrate. However, consult with a professional to ensure this is an option for you. Regardless, note that if you marry someone, you may not claim a common-law partnership. You have to avoid marriage by proxy to prevent overcomplicating the matter.

Conjugal relationship an alternative to marrying a non-Canadian during coronavirus

A conjugal relationship is a common-law partnership without one-year cohabitation. In other words, you meet all the requirements of a common-law partnership, but you have not been able to cohabit for an entire year. Of course, one of the reasons that could prevent cohabitation is the travel restrictions due to coronavirus. However, convince an immigration officer that you are in a conjugal relationship is not an easy task.

Humanitarian and compassionate grounds

Sometimes you could sponsor your non-Canadian spouse, even if you do not meet the requirements. Read the following article for more information or consult with a licenced practitioner:

Processing time of the sponsorship applications

Spousal applications are paper-based. Depending on the type of application, you need to send the application to CPC-Mississauga or the CIO. Upon initial processing, these offices will forward the application to another visa office to finalize the processing. However, these two centres are extremely slow during the coronavirus pandemic. Also, several local visa offices do not process paper-based applications right now. Consequently, you may face delays that exceed the typical 12-month processing time.

Fiancé visa for my future non-Canadian spouse

Unfortunately, Canada does not support Fiancé visas. Read the following article for more information:

If you are legally married or common-law partners, you could request a visa for your spouse or partner. While dual intent does not prevent the issuance of a visa, read the following article:

Of course, your spouse or common-law partner could be exempt from a visa to Canada. To make sure, read the following article:

When writing this article, your spouse or common-law partner may travel to Canada. However, they need to hold a valid visa if they are from a visa-required country. They also need to convince a Border Services Officer; that they are the spouse or common-law partner of a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada.

A quick reminder about the sponsors

The sponsor could be either a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada.

Conclusion

If you are going to marry a non-Canadian during the coronavirus pandemic, consider the following issues:

  • Avoid marriage by proxy altogether.
  • If you are marrying each other outside Canada, make sure your marriage is legally valid in the place it takes place.
  • Consider common-law partnerships or conjugal relationships as alternative options for marriage.
  • Don’t miss indicating any H&C grounds that affect your application.
  • Be mindful of travel restrictions.
  • Expect significant delays in processing your application.
  • While most spousal sponsorship applications are straightforward, consider hiring a licenced professional during these exceptional times.

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Would you please fill out our free assessment form if you wish to visit or move to Canada? We will review it for free, but we will contact you only if we find an opportunity for you. Alternatively, you may book a consultation session. Consultation sessions are not free, but you will receive formal immigration advice from a licensed practitioner.

Al Parsai, LLM, MA, DTM, RCIC
Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
Adjunct Professor – Queen’s University – Faculty of Law
Ashton College Instructor – Immigration Consulting
Author – 88 Tips on Immigration to Canada

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Disclaimer:
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Al Parsai

Al Parsai is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (class L3 RCIC-IRB – Unrestricted Practice) in Toronto, Canada. He is an adjunct professor at Queen's University Law School and Ashton College. Al, who holds a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from York University, is a member of CICC and CAPIC organizations. Al, the CEO of Parsai Immigration Services, has represented thousands of applicants from more than 50 countries to the immigration authorities since January 2011.

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