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What is the meaning of “Conjugal Partner”?

Common-law relationship

A Canadian citizen or permanent resident may wish to sponsor their foreign partner to immigrate to Canada, but may not be married to that partner or in a common-law relationship. These foreign partners can in some instances be sponsored as “conjugal partners” provided that the relationship meets the criteria applied by IRCC when assessing such relationships. Canada recognizes two types of relationships between unmarried couples for the purpose of sponsorship. These are: common law partner and conjugal partner relationships. If you fit into either of these two partner relationships, you do not have to be married in order to be sponsored. Alternatively, if a Canadian married his or her foreign partner, they can then sponsor that person as their spouse.

What is a “Common-law Relationship”

A common-law relationship is defined as cohabiting (living together) in a conjugal (or marriage-like) relationship with a partner for a period of at least one year.

What is a Conjugal Partner Relationship?

A conjugal partner relationship exists where two people are in a marriage-like relationship but are not married and have not lived together for a period of at least one year due to extenuating circumstances. IRCC considers the conjugal partner category to be an exception category for situations where the Canadian and their foreign partner are simply unable to marry or to live together for a year so as to qualify for family sponsorship as spouses or common-law partners.
When your union doesn’t fit the description of a common law partnership because of situations that are beyond your control, it may be regarded as a conjugal partnership. A conjugal partner is someone with whom you have more than just a sexual or physical relationship. You should have been unable to live with your partner for a consecutive 12 months due to issues that are beyond you and your partner’s control. Note that you would not be considered for a conjugal partner sponsorship if you and your partner could have qualified as a common law union but you willingly chose not to.

How IRCC Determines if a Conjugal Relationship Exists

The IRCC looks at different factors in order to determine if you qualify for a sponsorship as a conjugal partner. These elements include:

  • Mutual commitment to share in each other’s life
  • Exclusivity- Both partners should not be in another conjugal relationship at the same time
  • Intimate – Partners are committed to being sexually exclusive with each other
  • Whether the two persons depend on each other for physical, emotional, financial and social support
  • A permanent and long term relationship
  • The two are regarded by others as a couple and present each other as being their permanent partner
  • The two partners either have children or are taking care of them together

What if You Want to Sponsor a Fiancé?

If you are engaged to someone and would like to sponsor them to enter Canada, your relationship is not likely to fall into the category of a conjugal partner. The IRCC considers a conjugal partner relationship as one that is already marriage-like. They look for evidence such as a shared life together or owning property or other possessions together. For instance, if you have named each other as beneficiaries in your insurance policies, this can be a solid way to prove your conjugal partner relationship. Most importantly, the conjugal partner category is intended as an exception category for people who cannot marry or live together, and is not intended as a kind of fiancé visa. The law has stringent guidelines as to who may qualify for spousal partnerships to ensure only genuine couples are admitted to Canada.

Additional Documents that May Be Required

In the case of a conjugal partnership, you need to be able to show why you have not been living together and why you have not been able to qualify for a common law partnership or to get married. Additional documents and evidence may be needed to establish that the relationship is genuinely conjugal in nature and to otherwise demonstrate that the couple meets the factors described above.


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