How Can My Common-law Partner and I Prove We Have been Together for 12 Months?

Common-Law partner

If you are considering sponsorship via common law union, you’ll have to prove that you have been together with your partner for at least 12 consecutive months. A common law partner can be someone who is not legally married to you but who you are in a committed and continuous relationship with. You need to have lived in a marriage-like relationship in order to sponsor your partner under the common-law partner category. You may have children together or have been dating for a long time and present yourself to the public as a couple. Most importantly, common law partners share the same home and have shared the same home in the past. In most cases, they also support each other financially and emotionally. 

Generally speaking, proof of living together for one year can be established by documentary evidence such as leases or rental agreements in both names, proof of home ownership in both names, and/or utility bills in both names going to the same address. You can only sponsor a common law partner if the person is 18 years or older and there is a significant level of attachment between the two of you. It shouldn’t indicate that you only have a physical relationship.

The relationship should be considered real or genuine for at least 12 months and you may not be married because of various unavoidable circumstances. You may or may not have children together. For you to prove that your relationship is real, Citizen and Immigration Canada will require you to attach certain items in your application. These items include:

  • A statutory declaration of a common law union (IMM 5409)
  • Statements of a joint bank account
  • Shared rental receipts
  • Shared credit cards
  • Proof of joint ownership of any shared residential property
  • Shared residential leases
  • Copies of bills for any shared utility accounts such as telephone, gas and electricity bills
  • Any evidence of sharing household expenses such as bills paid by the partner
  • Receipts of purchases that have been done jointly especially household items like furniture, electronics and appliances
  • A mail that has been addressed to both of you at the same address
  • Personal documents for both of you that indicate a shared address such as identity documents, driver’s license and insurance policies
  • Any other documents that can act as proof that you have been living together

Keep in mind that the information above such as photos and letters will not be returned. Other documents like marriage certificates and passports are usually returned. Make sure all the copies you send are certified. Do not send original certificates.

Getting Legal Assistance

An immigration lawyer can help you through the process of applying for common-law sponsorship. A lawyer will make sure you read and understand the documents and swear that all the information therein is true. You will need a Commissioner of Oaths and be physically present when signing a statutory declaration of common law union. You must indicate in the document that you have read and understood all the statements.

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