When attempting to Sponsor a qualifying loved one abroad, having an understanding of the law can be a great asset while compiling your application. To understand the concepts and regulations that govern Immigration in Canada, you will need to understand the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR). However, there are certain situations that the IRPA and IRPR do not account for. For these situations, you may refer to Operational Manuals.
Operational Manuals are, as per their namesake, manuals that Immigration Officers use to assist them in making a decision on your matter. These manuals are not laws or regulations, and therefore not enforceable, but for the most part can also be used to assist you when compiling your application.
With respect to understanding what constitutes an eligible conjugal relationship for the purposes of sponsorship, you may refer to the manual OP 2 – Processing Members of the Family Class. Section 5.45 of this manual outlines what merits a conjugal relationship for the purposes of immigration.
This section states that:
This category was created for exceptional circumstances – for foreign national partners of Canadian or permanent resident sponsors who would ordinarily apply as common-law partners but for the fact that they have not been able to live together continuously for one year, usually because of an immigration impediment. In most cases, the foreign partner is also not able to marry their sponsor and qualify as a spouse. In all other respects, the couple is similar to a common-law couple or a married couple, i.e., they have been in a bona fide conjugal relationship for a period of at least one year."
Basically speaking, this category was created to encompass partners where neither a common-law relationship nor marriage is possible. This is what essentially constitutes a conjugal relationship and therefore sponsoring as conjugal partners. Otherwise, if it is possible to live in a common-law relationship or get married, that is what you would be expected to do prior to applying.
Further, section 5.26 discusses the assessment of a conjugal relationship. This section outlines key elements that an officer may use to determine the genuineness of a conjugal relationship. Some of the key factors are:
- Mutual commitment to a shard life at the exclusion of all other conjugal relationships
- Joint finances
- Joint Memberships or organizations, shared values
- In depth knowledge of each other’s circumstances
- Joint decision making with consequences for one partner affecting the other
- Intention for a long term relationship
- Physical support; for example when will or on special occasions
- Length of time the relationship existed
- Evidence of efforts made to live in the same country
These are just a few of the elements, as outlined by the manual, that an officer will assess or consider when determining the genuineness of a conjugal relationship.