What is the meaning of “Conjugal Partner”?

Common-law relationship

A Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada 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 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 legally 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.

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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, social and financial 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 to Canada?

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.

Additional Articles About Spouse or Partner Sponsorship

Differences Between Conjugal Relationship and Common-law Relationship

One of the common misconceptions among people is equating conjugal relationships with common-law relationships. It’s important to highlight the differences between these two:

  • Cohabitation: Common-law relationships require the couple to have lived together for a minimum of one year, while conjugal partner relationships do not have this requirement. However, the conjugal relationship must have lasted for at least one year to qualify.
  • Existence of Barriers: For conjugal relationships, there are clear barriers preventing cohabitation, whereas in common-law relationships, there are none.
  • Eligibility for Sponsorship: If a couple could have chosen to live together and qualify as a common-law relationship but chose not to, they are not eligible for sponsorship under the conjugal partner category.
  • Proof of Relationship: Common-law partners can usually provide proof of shared residency (like joint rental agreements or property ownership), while conjugal partners might have to provide other evidence of their relationship’s genuine and conjugal nature.

Conjugal Partner in Canada: The Importance of Extenuating Circumstances

For a relationship to qualify as a conjugal partnership, there needs to be a valid reason why the couple hasn’t been able to live together. These reasons can include:

  • Immigration barriers: One partner may not be allowed to enter the other partner’s country.
  • Legal barriers in the home country: Some countries may have laws that prevent couples from living together without being married.
  • Religious reasons: In some cultures and religions, living together before marriage is prohibited.
  • Sexual orientation: In countries where same-sex relationships are criminalized, couples may find it impossible to live together.
  • It’s important to recognize that these extenuating circumstances must be beyond the couple’s control, and not a matter of choice.

Meaning of Common-law Partner in Canada

In Canada, a common-law partner is someone who you have lived with in a conjugal relationship for at least one year. This relationship is recognized by Canadian law and has many of the same legal implications as a marriage. For example, if the relationship ends, issues of property division and spousal support will come into play, just as they would in a marriage.

FAQ on Conjugal Partner in Canada and Common-law Relationships

A conjugal partner relationship exists where two people have been in a marriage-like relationship for at least one year but are not married and have not lived together due to extenuating circumstances. Such a relationship is deeper than just a physical connection. It’s recognized for situations where partners can’t marry or live together due to uncontrollable reasons.

A common-law relationship is when two individuals cohabit in a marriage-like relationship for at least one year.

The IRCC reviews several factors, including mutual life commitment, exclusivity, intimacy, dependency for various supports, permanence of the relationship, social recognition as a couple, and joint child-rearing responsibilities.

A fiancé relationship is unlikely to qualify as a conjugal partner for IRCC. The criteria for a conjugal partnership look for established marriage-like bonds such as joint property ownership. Naming each other as beneficiaries in policies can be evidence. Note that the conjugal partner category isn’t a fiancé visa but for those who cannot marry or cohabit.

For conjugal partnerships, proof is needed to show why you haven’t lived together, or why you can’t qualify for a common-law relationship or get married. Various documents might be required to prove the relationship’s genuine nature and to validate the described factors.

Yes. Canadian citizens or permanent residents can sponsor their foreign partners as “conjugal partners” if the relationship meets IRCC’s criteria. The relationship types recognized for this purpose are the common-law partner and conjugal relationships.

Yes. A common-law relationship involves cohabiting in a marriage-like relationship for a year, whereas a conjugal relationship pertains to partners in a marriage-like relationship for a year who couldn’t live together or get married due to significant reasons such as visa barriers.

You can download the free “Spousal and Partner Sponsorship Guide” which offers comprehensive information on bringing your spouse or partner to Canada.

Immigration Appeals Overview

Welcome to our FAQ section about Conjugal Partne! If you’re navigating the complexities of common law relationships and immigration, we’re here to provide you with some answers. Read on to find clarity on the most common questions we encounter: