Spousal Sponsorship Before Divorce



In Canada, a marriage is not recognized if it occurred prior to the finalization of a previous one. Meaning, if your divorce is not final and you have remarried prior to the legal dissolution of your previous marriage, this is not a recognized marriage in Canada and therefore you cannot sponsor your new spouse as a Member of the Family class.

However, you may be able to sponsor them as a Conjugal Partner provided that you meet certain criteria:

  • Your marriage has broken down
  • You have lived separately and apart from your spouse for an extended period of time
  • You have established a Conjugal relationship with another person

Do not confuse Conjugal for a physical relationship alone. For the purposes of sponsoring your partner for immigration to Canada, a Conjugal relationship is essentially one that is marriage like but for reasons beyond your control, you are unable to qualify as a Common Law Partner or Spouse.

In this case, you have been unable to finalize a previous marriage; whether it be the other spouse refusing to co-operate or you lack the financial capabilities etc., this may be considered reasons beyond your control as it is a legal impediment to otherwise marrying or existing in a common law relationship with your new partner.

A Conjugal relationship, however, is considered difficult to establish until the ending of a previous marriage. This means that an officer will not consider time that you may have known this person while still being married and therefore that time will not assist you when attempting to sponsor your partner. The marriage must have dissolved; you separated from your spouse and have begun a new relationship. You will need to satisfy an officer of when your marriage ended, when you stopped residing together and when you began your new relationship. Acceptable documents may include:

  • Separation Agreement
  • A Court Order in respect of custody of children identifying the fact of the marriage breakdown
  • Documents removing the legally married spouse(s) from insurance policies or a legal will as beneficiaries

In situations like these, your previous spouse will not be examined and is therefore no longer considered a member of the family class for the purpose of immigration.