Sponsor your conjugal partner to Canada

Conjugal Partner Sponsorship CanadaSuban is a Somali-Canadian citizen. While in Somalia two years ago, he met Mooge. Of course, any same-sex relationship is forbidden in Somalia. Consequently, Suban and Mooge dated in secret. Both Suban and Mooge fell in love shortly. However, Suban had to go back to Canada. He sent an invitation letter for Mooge, but IRCC refused his visa application. Suban and Mooge have visited each other in European countries several times in the past two years. Suban supports Mooge financially. Of course, their relationship is exclusive. They dream of living together in Canada. However, Suban was not aware he could sponsor his conjugal partner to Canada. Therefore, he never submitted a sponsorship application. 

The sponsorship process allows families to reunite in Canada. However, conjugal partner sponsorship is not available to everyone. Here we explore different aspects of sponsorship while you are in a conjugal relationship. In this article:

Note: For the spouse or common-law partner sponsorship programs, visit the following links:

The definition of a conjugal partnership

When it comes to sponsorship applications, a conjugal partner is someone who,

  • resides outside Canada,
  • is in a conjugal partner-like relationship with the sponsor, and
  • the relationship has been going for at least one year (practitioners see R2).

Of course, by conjugal partner-like relationship, IRCC officers expect to see all these factors:

  • financial dependency
  • sexual intimacy
  • commitment and exclusivity
  • emotional dependency

However, unlike a common-law relationship, cohabitation is not mandatory. Regardless, it won’t hurt if the two live together as much as possible.

Who is an eligible conjugal partner sponsor?

If you intend to sponsor your conjugal partner, you need to (practitioners see R130 & R131):

You must meet all these requirements, or you may not sponsor your conjugal partner. Of course, continue reading the rest of this article for more information on some of these requirements.

Residing in Canada

If you intend to sponsor your conjugal partner, you must reside inside Canada. In other words, although your conjugal partner is outside Canada, you must remain in Canada while sponsoring them. Of course, you may travel to visit your conjugal partner. However, keep the durations short to avoid disrupting your residency.

If you are a Canadian citizen, you may remain outside Canada while sponsoring your conjugal partner. However, you must convince the immigration officer; you will go back to Canada when your conjugal partner becomes a permanent resident (practitioners see R130(2)). For example, you need to show you have plausible job prospects in Canada. Unfortunately, this option is not available to permanent residents.

Undertaking

When you sponsor your conjugal partner to Canada, you agree to a three-year undertaking. The undertaking process begins when your conjugal partner lands as a permanent resident in Canada. Within those three years, they may not use social assistance. Of course, if they do, you will have to pay the government back. Unfortunately, a separation does not spare you from undertaking obligations.

If your conjugal partner has a child, then you must extend the undertaking to the child. The duration of the undertaking for the children is a bit confusing, and it depends on the age of the child at the time of landing (practitioners see R132(1)(b)(ii) and (iii)).

  • under 15 at the time of landing: for ten years from landing
  • between 15 and 22 at the time of landing: by the time they become 25
  • 22 or more at the time of landing: for three years from landing

Criminal convictions

If you have certain criminal convictions, you may not sponsor your conjugal partner. Generally speaking, the criminal convictions that could affect you include domestic violence, sexual abuse and significant violence towards others. However, in certain circumstances, IRCC may spare you. For example, receiving a record suspension in Canada could help. If the offence was outside Canada and five years have passed from the time you completed your sentence, they could allow you to sponsor. Please consult with a professional to make sure if exemptions apply to you.

Bankruptcy

If you file for bankruptcy, you may not sponsor your conjugal partner. However, if you are a discharged bankrupt, then you may proceed. A discharged bankrupt is someone free from paying any debts they had when filing for bankruptcy. Of course, some exceptions apply. The government of Canada has some guidelines to explain this issue. Regardless, I recommend discussing the matter with a bankruptcy professional to make sure you are discharged.

Social assistance

You may not sponsor your conjugal partner if you are receiving social assistance. Section 2 of the Immigration Regulations defines social assistance as follows:

Social assistance means any benefit in the form of money, goods or services provided to or on behalf of a person by a province under a program of social assistance, including a program of social assistance designated by a province to provide for basic requirements including food, shelter, clothing, fuel, utilities, household supplies, personal requirements and health care not provided by public health care, including dental care and eye care.

Regardless of the preceding paragraph, receiving social assistance because of disability does not affect your application.

Five-year ban

Imagine someone sponsors you to Canada as a spouse, conjugal partner or common-law partner. Upon a successful process, you become a permanent resident of Canada. Now, imagine your relationship falls apart. In this situation, if you fall in love with someone else, you may not sponsor them to Canada for five years from the day you landed. Of course, this restriction only applies to those who immigrated to Canada as a sponsored spouse, conjugal partner or common-law partner.

Undertaking-ban

If you have already sponsored a spouse, conjugal partner or common-law partner to Canada, you may not sponsor another conjugal partner while the current undertaking duration is not over. Consequently, if your previous conjugal partner landed in Canada less than three years ago, you may sponsor the new conjugal partner only when at least three years since the ex-partner’s landing has passed. Regardless, you need to meet all other sponsorship requirements.

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Who is an eligible conjugal applicant?

You are an eligible applicant in the process of sponsoring conjugal partners if you meet all the following requirements:

  • Being a conjugal partner
  • At the time of application, you are at least 18 years old.
  • Reside outside Canada.
  • You could not cohabit for at least 12 months due to legitimate reasons. Of course, an example is the travel restrictions because of COVID-19.
  • You are admissible to Canada.
  • None of the following applies to you:
    • When the sponsor was immigrating to Canada, you were spouses, common-law partners or conjugal partners. However, you broke the relationship to allow the sponsor to qualify for immigration to Canada. When the sponsor landed in Canada, you restarted the relationship to initiate the sponsorship application (practitioners see R4.1).
    • When the sponsor was immigrating to Canada, you were a non-accompanying family member. Nonetheless, the immigration authorities did not examine you. For example, you refused to give a medical examination (practitioners see R117(9)(d)). Of course, if the officer deliberately decided not to examine you, this prohibition won’t affect you.
    • Bad faith applies to you, meaning:
      • You entered the relationship primarily to become a permanent resident of Canada, or
      • Your relationship is not genuine.

If you show you could not marry each other because of legitimate reasons, it could help you apply. Of course, an example is the prohibition of marriage for the LGBTQ community in certain countries. However, keep in mind marriage for immigration purposes is not mandatory. In other words, sometimes marriage is an option, but you deliberately decide not to marry each other. Consequently, officers accept refraining from marriage if they believe the relationship is genuine.

Bad faith

There is no doubt that in any conjugal or spousal sponsorship application, the applicant thinks about living in Canada. However, if the marriage’s primary reason is getting a Canadian status, you have committed Bad Faith (practitioners see R4(1)). Moreover, if the relationship is not genuine, the officer will refuse the application on the ground of Bad Faith. Consequently, you must present several documents to prevent refusal due to this issue. For example,

  • Letters from friends and family members supporting your genuine relationship
  • Financial dependency documents such as joint bank accounts, property ownership and collective investments
  • Showing trust in each other such as mentioning the other person as your beneficiary in your will or life insurance
  • Cohabitation documents such as joint property lease agreements or similar addresses on bills or government-issued documents
  • Photos of you on different occasions
  • Financial transactions between both of you
  • Having a child that you both adopted or you are both the biological parents.
  • Email exchanges, chat history, phone call history, etc.

Of course, this list is neither inclusive nor exclusive. Just use it as a guideline. Your immigration practitioner will advise you on how to prepare your package based on your circumstance.

Admissibility of the conjugal partner (the applicant)

If the applicant is inadmissible to Canada, they may not immigrate. Visit the following links for more information:

Regardless, the conjugal partners are not inadmissible due to excessive demand.

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Family members of the applicant

If your conjugal partner has dependent children, you may also include them in the application. However, they need to meet the definition of a dependent child. Read the following article for more information.

If the applicant’s child has a dependent child, you may also include them in the application. However, in this situation, the sponsor must meet the minimum necessary income. The minimum required income is equivalent to a 12-month-LICO.

The application process to sponsor your conjugal partner

If you are sponsoring your conjugal partner, follow these steps (the exact steps could vary due to your circumstances):

  1. Collect all the documents and fill out all the forms
  2. Pay the government fees (subject to change):
  3. Submit the complete package on paper to the Central Intake Office (CIO) in Sydney, Nova Scotia (subject to change):
    • By mail:
      • CPC Sydney
        P.O. Box 9500
        Sydney, NS
        B1P 0H5
    • By courier services:
      • CPC Sydney
        49 Dorchester Street
        Sydney, NS
        B1P 5Z2
  4. The CIO officer reviews the application for completeness and approval of the sponsor.
  5. If they approve the sponsor, they will forward the application to the local Visa Office responsible for the applicant’s country. Also, they usually request a medical examination from the applicant at this stage.
  6. The officer of the local Visa Office reviews the application for the approval of the applicant. Of course, they may request supplementary documents. They may even interview the applicant or the sponsor or both.
  7. If they approve the applicant, they may travel to Canada and become a permanent resident of Canada.

The right to appeal

Generally speaking, you have the right to appeal if the officer refuses the application. However, under certain circumstances, you may lose this right. Contact us if your application has been refused. Nonetheless, remember that you have a limited time to appeal to an immigration officer’s adverse decision on your conjugal partner sponsorship application outside Canada.

Contact us!

If you want us to help you with the process of sponsoring your conjugal partner, please fill out the following form:

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    Al Parsai, MA, DTM, RCIC
    Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
    Ashton College Instructor – Immigration Consulting
    Author – 88 Tips on Immigration to Canada

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    Al Parsai

    Al Parsai is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) in Toronto, Canada. He also teaches the official immigration consulting courses at Ashton College in Vancouver, Canada. Al who holds a Masters degree from Yorkville University is a member of ICCRC and CAPIC organizations. Al, the CEO of Parsai Immigration Services, has represented hundreds of applicants from more than 30 countries to the immigration authorities since January 2011.