Conjugal Sponsorship in Canada
Under the conjugal sponsorship you are eligible to sponsor your partner to Canada even if you are not married or do not qualify under the definition of common law sponsorship. Through this sponsorship route, you can sponsor your partner even if you do not currently live in the same country as one another.
This route is designed for couples who in fact cannot reside in the same country as one another, but otherwise wish to live together as a married couple does. Therefore, if you cannot get married or be in a common law relationship due to your circumstances you may be eligible to apply under conjugal sponsorship.
Find out below if you are eligible under this category, prior to starting your application for conjugal sponsorship.
What is a Conjugal Partner?
Conjugal partners are just like married couples but are not married, and cannot reside together to qualify as common law partners due to reasons beyond their control such as:
- immigration barrier
- religious reasons
- sexual orientation
A conjugal partner is a person that is currently living outside of Canada, has had a binding genuine relationship with their partner for at least one year. Therefore, to apply for conjugal sponsorship, one individual must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. Conjugal partners can be same-sex partners or otherwise, it does not matter.
Who is Eligible to Sponsor their Conjugal Partner?
To be eligible to sponsor a partner, you must meet all of the following requirements. You must be:
- A Canadian citizen, a person registered in Canada as an Indian under the Canadian Indian Act or a permanent resident
- At least 18 years old
- Living in Canada:
- If you are a Canadian citizen living outside Canada, you must show that you plan to live in Canada when your sponsored partner becomes a permanent resident.
- You cannot sponsor someone if you are a permanent resident living outside Canada
- Able to prove that you have enough income to provide basic needs for your partner and their dependent children.
Who Cannot Sponsor their Conjugal Partner to Canada?
- Sponsored a spouse or partner and three years has not passed since this person became a permanent resident. Since you signed an undertaking as the sponsor, you must complete your three year term before sponsoring someone else
- Were sponsored by a partner or partner became a permanent resident less than 5 years ago
- Sponsored someone and that person went on social assistance while the undertaking was in place. You must pay the government back of any social assistance that was received to be able to sponsor future partner
- Are in default on an immigration loan or a performance bond
- Owe child support or did not pay court-ordered alimony
- Receive social assistance for a reason other than a disability
- Were convicted of a violent or sexual offence, an offence that caused bodily harm to a relative or you attempted or threatened to commit any of these offences
- Are in a penitentiary, jail, reformatory or prison
- Are under a removal order
- Have already applied to sponsor your current partner, partner or child and a decision on your application has not been made yet
Important Documents for Conjugal Sponsorship
When submitting your application, it is important to be mindful of the documents you submit and providing the supporting documentation that proofs you qualify under conjugal sponsorship.
Some of the documents include:
- You must show an ongoing and genuine relationship for at least 1 year with a Canadian citizen or permanent resident living in Canada
- You must have combined documents, to the extent possible, with their Canadian partner
- You must show that cohabitation was not possible due to reasons outside of your control
- You must show that you intend to live in Canada once the application is successful
How Can I Prove my Relationship is Genuine?
One of the most important aspects to getting a positive decision on the application is proving your relationship is genuine. Some documents you can include to prove genuineness include:
- Records of any correspondence between the couple, such as e-mails, internet chats, mailed letters, etc.
- Gifts and/or gift receipts of any gifts given to one another
- Travel itineraries from trips taken together
- Any photos of the couple together at different points in their lives with friends and family
- Reference letters from friends and family that can prove the genuineness of the conjugal relationship
- Personal statements from the couple confirming their relationship and the hardships of not being able to live together
How can I qualify under Conjugal Sponsorship?
To be eligible as a conjugal partner there are specific conditions you must meet. You must be able to provide evidence that one of these conditions applies to your situation in order to qualify.
- You have maintained a conjugal relationship for at least 1 year
- You and your partner have been prevented from getting married or living together because of:
- An immigration barrier
- Your current marital status (e.g. you are currently married to someone else and living in a country where divorce is not an option)
- Your sexual orientation- Evidence can be provided to show an impediment to living together (e.g. evidence of refused long-term stays in each other’s countries)
If the immigration officer finds that your relationship is not that genuine, then he can deny your application based on those merits. Therefore it is important to prove the genuineness of your relationship throughout your application.
Genuineness can be things like how you guys met, where you met, who proposed, where did the relationship go, how did it get to where it is today, where you plan to take the relationship, how you are maintaining close communication, etc.
When You Do Not Qualify as Conjugal Partners
There are certain situations where relationship will not qualify as conjugal because of certain circumstances. Conjugal relationship is for those people who aren’t able to get married or live together but can still qualify as partners and sponsor one another so they can be united.
You should not apply as a conjugal partner if:
- You could have lived together but chose not too
- You are unable to provide proof that here was an impediment that kept you two from living together, or
- You are engaged to be married to each other
If you cannot provide evidence that, an impediment that had prevented you two from living together, then you cannot apply as a conjugal relationship because you cannot prove it.
If you could have lived together but choose not to, then you would not qualify, as a conjugal relationship either because that shows that you do not have the same level of commitment required of a conjugal relationship. Example is that some people will not give up a job or a course of study to be with their partner.
This shows that you guys are not at the proper commitment level you’re supposed to be for a conjugal relationship. If you are engaged to be married then you cannot apply for conjugal because you can wait until you two are married or you can apply under common-law union if you have been living together for at least 12 months.
What are Responsibilities a Sponsor would have to their Conjugal Partner?
The Canadian government allows citizens and permanent residents of Canada to sponsor members of their family class, but a large burden follows that responsibility. When you agree to be a conjugal sponsor, many responsibilities are instantaneously trusted upon you. That is why you must sign a contract called an undertaking with the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. The undertaking is a promise you make to provide financial support for your partner’s basic requirements and those of his or her dependent children.
As a conjugal sponsor you are required to provide financial requirements for all of these basic needs:
- Personal Requirements
- Fuel and
- Household Supplies
This also includes any other health care required that is not provided by Canada’s public health plan, such as eye and dental. The undertaking helps ensure that none of the persons with their family members that are coming to Canada has to apply for social assistance.
When do my obligations start when sponsoring my conjugal partner?
Your obligation as a sponsor begins as soon as the person you are sponsoring and their family arrive into Canada. Your obligation varies in length according to the age of the family members coming into Canada and their relationship to you.
It is very important to note that this undertaking is seen to be an unconditional promise of support to everyone you have sponsored. There is no breaking of the undertaking regardless of divorce, separation, relationship breakdown, moving to another province or the sponsored being granted their Canadian citizenship. The undertaking will still be intact and will remain in effect even if your financial situation deteriorates.
The sponsored must be at least eighteen years old to be sponsored as a conjugal partner. They must have been in a genuine relationship lasting at least twelve months, marriage and cohabitation were not possible, and there is a significant degree of attachment. This attachment must be more than just a physical relationship but a mutually inter-dependant relationship.
Responsibilities after Sponsorship is Approved
If there are any changes to your family status after your sponsorship was approved you have an obligation to tell the government about it. If there are any changes to your family such as:
- Deaths or
- Any other important information
If you move, you are also obligated to inform CIC immediately of that as well. As well as if you change any of your contact information, you must inform CIC right away so they know how to reach you.
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Frequently Asked Questions
How long am I financially responsible for my conjugal partner?
The time frame in which you are financially responsible for your conjugal partner is referred to as the length of undertaking. This length of undertaking begins on the day that your conjugal partner becomes a permanent resident of Canada. There are several factors that determine the length of undertaking. Such factors include the age of the sponsored conjugal partner, the relationship to you, and where you live. Keep in mind, if you live in Quebec, the length of undertaking is quite different compared to other areas of Canada. For a conjugal sponsorship, the length of undertaking is 3 years.
If my financial circumstances change, am I still financially responsible for my conjugal partner?
Yes, unfortunately, even if your financial circumstances change, you will still be held responsible for your conjugal partner and their financial needs. Please note that you are required to be financially responsible even if your relationship with your conjugal partner changes. For instance, if you and your conjugal partner separate, you are still held responsible. You are also required to be financially responsible even if your conjugal partner becomes a Canadian citizen; your financial circumstances get worse; and even if you have withdrawn the application after the conjugal partner becomes a permanent resident.
How old does my conjugal partner have to be in order for me to sponsor them?
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) had decided as of June 10, 2015 that they will refuse applications for conjugal partners that are under the age of 18 years old. Therefore, going forward, all conjugal partners must be at least 18 years old when applying for conjugal sponsorship in Canada.
If I am sponsoring my conjugal partner from within Canada, are they able to work while the application is being processed?
It is entirely possible for your conjugal partner to work in Canada while Immigration processes their application. However, it is important to note that they must have a valid work permit prior to working in Canada. Unlike the spouse or common-law sponsorship application, a conjugal sponsorship application does not guarantee an open-work permit while the conjugal partner is in Canada. They will have to proceed with the general provisions for a work permit and get a valid job offer from a Canadian employer.
How can I prove my relationship with my conjugal partner? Especially since we are so far from each other?
A conjugal sponsorship is a unique type of family class sponsorship. The reason being is because your conjugal partner is living outside of Canada and although they may have a binding relationship with you, due to specific circumstances, you are unable to live with each other. However, even though you may not be able to live with one another, you still must prove that your relationship is genuine and real and that you’ve been together for a minimum of one year.
In order to prove your relationship is real and genuine to Immigration, there are certain requirements that you must consider and show. You must have combined documents together, such as joint property ownership, joint bills, etc. You must also prove to Immigration that cohabitation was not at all possible during your relationship. Most importantly, you must show evidence that the reasons for your separation were out of your control. In many circumstances, cohabitation is not possible because of war and persecution. Therefore, if there are any documents or information that you can provide to Immigration that demonstrates these hardships, it is recommended that you submit them. They will aid your application and prove that living with your partner was impossible.
Due to our distance, am I able to marry my conjugal partner via proxy, telephone, or the internet?
Unfortunately, IRCC does not recognize these marriages in any circumstance. They are extremely specific with marriages and what is recognized. If one partner or both were not physically present during the marriage ceremony, then IRCC will not recognize the marriage.