sponsoring your common-law partner

Before you sponsor your partner for a Canadian permanent residency, you need to understand how the law views the kind of relationship you have. There are three different kinds of romantic relationships that are allowed sponsorship in Canada. Hence, sponsoring your common-law partner is different from sponsoring any of the other two kinds of relationship. Although the application processes are similar, the documents required vary accordingly.

It is important to note that not all countries recognise the common-law relationship. For instance, the U.S. does not recognise it, but Canada does. This article will discuss what you need to know about obtaining permanent residency for your common-law partner in Canada.

What is a Common-Law Partner?

A common-law partner is someone with whom you share a conjugal relationship and have lived together for a certain period. Unlike married couples, common-law partners haven’t gone through a formal marriage ceremony but are recognized as a couple for legal purposes after meeting specific criteria, such as cohabitation for a designated duration. The rules and requirements for common-law relationships can vary between different regions and legal systems.

The common-law partnership is recognized as a de facto relationship. This means that the relationship is true, but it is not established as per the law. On the other hand, is the de jure relationship which means that the relationship is established as per the law. De jure is used to describe a spousal partnership or marriage.

Eligibility for Sponsoring Your Common-Law Partner

  • Proof of Common-law Relationship: You must have been living together continuously for at least 12 months in a conjugal relationship before sponsoring your common-law partner.
  • Proof of Genuine Relationship: You need to provide evidence that your relationship is genuine and not entered into solely for immigration purposes. This may include joint bank accounts, shared bills, photos, and other documentation demonstrating your commitment to each other.
  • Marital Status: Both partners must not be in a legal marriage to each other at the time of applying for the sponsorship.
  • Legal Status in Canada: Both the sponsor and the sponsored person must have legal status in Canada. The person sponsoring their common-law partner must be a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident of Canada, or a person registered in Canada as an Indian under the Canadian Indian Act. On the other hand, the sponsored partner should be a foreign national with valid temporary status (such as a work or study permit) at the time of the application.
  • Financial Ability: The sponsor must demonstrate the financial ability to support the sponsored person. This involves meeting the minimum necessary income requirements, which can vary based on factors like family size.
  • No Previous Sponsorship Undertaking Default: Before sponsoring your common-law partner, you should not have defaulted on any previous sponsorship undertaking. This includes not having failed to provide for the basic needs of a sponsored family member in the past.
  • Age: Both the sponsor and the sponsored person must be at least 18 years old.

Documents Needed for Proving Common-Law Partnership

Statutory Declaration of Common-Law Union

A sworn statement or statutory declaration signed by both partners, declaring that they are in a genuine and continuing common-law relationship.

Cohabitation Documents

  • Joint lease agreements or property ownership documents that show both partners living at the same address.
  • Utility bills (gas, electricity, water) or other official correspondence addressed to both partners at the same address.

Financial Documents

  • Joint bank account statements.
  • Joint credit card statements.
  • Evidence of joint financial responsibilities such as shared bills or loans.

Insurance Documents

  • Joint health insurance coverage.
  • Joint life insurance policies.

Social and Family Documents

  • Photographs of the couple together at various events and occasions.
  • Affidavits or letters of support from family and friends who can attest to the legitimacy of the relationship.

Travel Documents

Records of joint travel, such as flight itineraries, hotel reservations, or travel tickets.

Communication Records

Copies of emails, letters, or text messages exchanged between the partners, showing ongoing communication.

Aside from the documents that prove your common-law relationship, you need other general documents which are also used for other kinds of spousal sponsorships in Canada. The application process is also the same.

Sponsoring Your Common-Law Partner in Special Cases

If there are questions about your relationship, sponsoring your common-law partner may become more complicated than usual. You will have to do all you can to convince the office that you both have actually had a common-law relationship for the past year. Also, you may have to prove that neither you nor your partner is romantically involved with someone else.

A Partner with a prior common-law relationship

  • Cooling-Off Period: There may be a mandatory waiting or “cooling-off” period before you can sponsor a new partner. This period is typically two years from the date the sponsored person became a permanent resident. During this time, you may not be eligible to sponsor another partner.
  • Changes in Personal Circumstances: Changes in your personal circumstances, such as a divorce or the death of a previous partner, may impact your eligibility to sponsor a new partner. You must provide concrete evidence to show that the previous relationship is no more.
  • Demonstrating a New Genuine Relationship: You will need to provide evidence of a new genuine and continuing relationship with your current partner. This includes proof of cohabitation, joint financial responsibilities, and other documentation demonstrating the authenticity of your relationship.
  • Legal Obligations from Previous Sponsorship: If there were any legal obligations or undertakings from your previous sponsorship (e.g., financial support), you must have fulfilled them.

A Partner legally married to someone else

  • Legal Marital Status: Your partner must have a legal marital status that allows them to enter into a common-law partnership. In many cases, a finalized divorce is a prerequisite for establishing a new legal relationship.
  • Validity of Common-Law Relationship: Common-law partnerships are typically based on a commitment to an exclusive, conjugal relationship. Immigration authorities may scrutinize the authenticity and timing of the relationship, especially if it begins while one partner is still in a legal marriage.
  • Documentary Evidence: When applying for common-law sponsorship, you will need to provide documentary evidence of the genuineness of your relationship. This may include proof of cohabitation, joint financial responsibilities, and other documents that establish the authenticity of your commitment.

Why You May Not Sponsor Your Common-Law Partner

You may not receive permission to sponsor your common-law partner if;

  • You are sponsoring a spouse or partner, but you signed an undertaking for a previous spouse or partner within the last three years since they became a permanent resident.
  • You previously sponsored someone and failed to reimburse any social assistance they received while the undertaking was in effect.
  • You are in default on an immigration loan or a performance bond.
  • You did not fulfil court-ordered alimony or child support payments.

Final Words

Sponsoring your common-law partner is a significant step, filled with both excitement and responsibility. Whether you are navigating this process in Canada or elsewhere, understanding the intricacies of common-law sponsorship is crucial for a successful and harmonious future together. We hope you find this guide helpful. Also, remember that each case is unique, and seeking professional advice can be invaluable in ensuring a successful application.