Canada recently removed the requirement for conjugal couples to have to prove that there is an impediment to cohabitation. Previously, IRCC was of the position that couples had to explain why they were unable to live together. For example, couples that could not legally live together.
This change is significant because it will open the door for many couples that would otherwise not have been eligible because they are not married and have not lived together.
The announcement was made in July 2022 via a Program Delivery Update (PDU) found here: Program delivery update: Assessing conjugal relationships - Canada.ca
How does Canada define a conjugal partner?
Conjugal partner means, in relation to a sponsor, a foreign national residing outside Canada who is in a conjugal relationship with the sponsor and has been in that relationship for a period of at least one year. Therefore the three basic components of a conjugal partner relationship are:
- One person must be a sponsor,
- The person being sponsored must reside outside of Canada,
- The conjugal or marriage-like relationship must have existed for at least one year.
How can I prove I am in a conjugal relationship and eligible for sponsorship?
The important thing to keep in mind is that you must prove a “marriage-like relationship“, for at least 1 year. Conjugal indicates that there is a significant degree of attachment and mutual commitment between two partners.This can be demonstrated by:
- Evidence of loving relationship (eg. fidelity, commitment, feelings towards each other)
- Shared Shelter (ie. sleeping arrangements)
- Financial support (ie. sharing of household, medical, or other expenses)
- Spending time together (ie. what activities do you share)
- Familiar with friends and families (ie. how do you present yourselves to you social circle, do you conduct yourselves as a couple)
- Children (e.g. attitude and conduct concerning children)
Do I need to provide a reason for not marrying or living together for Canada Conjugal Sponsorship?
No. Importantly, jurisprudence in Canada has held that applicants are not required to show why they did not marry or live in a common-law relationship.
In conjugal partner relationships, there is not necessarily a specific point when a commitment is made, and there is no one legal document attesting to the commitment. Instead, there is the building of intimacy and emotional ties, and the accumulation of other types of evidence, such as naming one another as beneficiaries on insurance policies or estates, joint ownership of possessions, joint decision-making with consequences for one partner affecting the other, and financial support of one another (joint expenses or sharing of income, etc.). When taken together, these facts indicate that there is significant commitment and mutual interdependence in a monogamous relationship of some permanence, similar to that of a married couple.
Is the conjugal sponsorship category more difficult than common-law or marriage sponsorship?
In the past, the conjugal category was seen as inferior to marriage or common-law. However, this change reflects the law’s intention to recognize the diverse reality of romantic relationships.
Can Canada-US couples apply under the conjugal spouse category?
Since we are licensed to practice both Canada and US immigration, we often help Canada-US couples with sponsorship applications. Many of the couples we work with spend a significant amount of time with each other given the proximity of border cities in Michigan and Ontario and ease of crossing. However, sometimes, they fall short of the common-law cohabitation requirement, or meet the requirements but do not have enough evidence to support it. The conjugal relationship is a great option to consider, in those circumstances.
What if I am legally married to someone else or unable to get married for another reason, am I still eligible for conjugal sponsorship in Canada?
You may be eligible under the conjugal category, so long as you are legally separated. You must be able to show that your marriage has broken down and you have lived separately and apart from their legal spouse for at least one year
You do not have to explain why you do not want to get married, so long as you can prove a “marriage-like” relationship.
How can we help?
As immigration lawyers, we can help you determine if you are eligible for conjugal sponsorship in Canada. We can also help you define what evidence you need and strategize on the best way to present your application. Finally, if we represent you, we are with you every step of the way, in case there are any unexpected issues along the way. If you want professional assistance, please book a strategy session with us to get started.