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Spouse Common Law and Conjugal Partner

Spousal Sponsorship is a subsection of the Family Class immigration category. Under this program, a Canadian or permanent resident may sponsor his or her spouse/common-law partner for permanent resident status in Canada.

Both the Canadian citizen or permanent resident (the sponsor) and the foreign national (the sponsored person) must be approved by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada in order for the sponsored person to receive a visa.

For the purpose of sponsorship, Canada recognizes common-law and conjugal partner relationships. If your situation fits into one of these categories, you do not have to be married in order to be sponsored.

Common-Law Relationship: A common-law relationship is one in which you and your partner have been living together in a marriage-like relationship continuously (uninterrupted) for at least one year.

In a common-law relationship, you and your partner are entitled to the same benefits and rights that legally married couples are entitled to in Canada.
Conjugal Partner Relationship: A conjugal partner relationship is a relationship that does not fit the requirements of a common-law relationship because of circumstances beyond the control of you and your partner. In other words, this kind of relationship is more than just a physical/sexual relationship but, for some reason, you and your partner have been unable to live together for at least one year in a marriage-like relationship, or have been unable to legally marry.

One reason might be because you are living in separate countries and there is an immigration barrier. You will not be considered to be in a conjugal partner relationship if you and your partner could have lived together in a common-law relationship but chose not to do so.

​Implications and process for Sponsorship

If your relationship falls into one of these two categories, common law partner and Conjugal Partner Relationship, then it is still possible for your partner to sponsor you. If this is the case, you and your partner would have to follow the same sponsorship application process as married couples.

·You also need additional paperwork to show evidence of the following: In the case of a common-law relationship, you must be able to prove to immigration authorities that you have combined your affairs and have been living together in the same household; you have been living together continuously for one year; you have joint finances (for example, bank accounts, credit cards, ownership of a home) and share household costs (for example, utilities, rent, mortgage payments).

In order to be sponsored as a conjugal partner, you must be able to show why you and your partner have not been able to live together in a common-law relationship or as a married couple. It is important to remember that these cases might be considered irregular to immigration authorities and, therefore, your sponsorship application might take longer to process.

Information on Conditional Permanent Residence

As of October 25, 2012, CIC introduced amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations. The amendments specify that spouses, common-law or conjugal partners who are in a relationship with their sponsor for two years or less and have no children in common with their sponsor at the time of the sponsorship application are subject to a period of conditional permanent residence. The condition requires the sponsored spouse or partner to cohabit in a conjugal relationship with their sponsor for a period of two years after the day on which they became a permanent resident. The conditional measure only applies to permanent residents whose applications are received on October 25, 2012, or after the day that the amendments come into force.


Condition applies if the couple:

* Is married for two years or less; or
* Dated for four years, but is married for two years or less; or
* Have been in a conjugal relationship for two years or less; or
* Has cohabited in a common-law relationship for two years or less; and
* Do not have any children in common