What Does Canada Consider a Common Law Partner?

The laws of common law partnerships vary from country to country. The rules governing such a relationship in Canada have an important effect on citizenship or permanent residency status.

A citizen of Canada can make an application to sponsor their partner into Canada through the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. There are certain requirements that designate a partnership as common law.

What Makes a Common Law Partner?

To be considered a common law partner in order to be granted Canadian permanent residency, a person must meet these requirements:

● They may not be married to the person who is being sponsored.

● They can be of the opposite sex or the same sex as the sponsoring partner.

● Both partners must be 18 years or older.

● The sponsor and the partner being sponsored must have been living together for a period of at least 12 consecutive months.

● The sponsor and partner must have been living in a conjugal, or marriage-like, relationship.

What Is the Proof?

There are actually quite a few documents that can be used as proof of a common law partnership.

Here’s what can be used:

● Statutory declaration of a common law partnership.

● Statements from a bank account shared by the two parties.

● Statements of a shared credit card.

● Proof of shared ownership of a residential property.

● Proof of a shared residential lease.

● Receipts of a shared rental.

● Bills showing shared utility accounts, such as electricity, gas, or telephone.

● Proof that the management responsibilities of household expenses are being shared.

● Proof of shared purchases, particularly household items.

● Mail addressed to both parties at the shared address.

● Official documents that demonstrate both parties have the same address, including driver’s license, identification documents, or insurance policies.

● Any other documentation that proves cohabitation.

Please note that all of these pieces of proof don’t need to be provided and IRCC may consider other types of proof at their discretion.

What Is the Procedure?

Typically, the partner who is the sponsor will remain in Canada while the person who is being sponsored waits in their home country for approval or for a visa to be issued. There is an exception to this rule. The in-land sponsorship allows a citizen or permanent resident of Canada to sponsor their common law partner while both of them are living in Canada. The foreign partner would first have to be able to get into Canada prior to applying. This is possible through the acquisition of a temporary visa or coming from a visa-exempt country. A common problem is obtaining the visa. The Canadian authorities are often resistant to issue a visa in this situation because the foreign partner isn’t a true visitor but has intentions to be in the country permanently. If a visitor visa application is denied, the best bet may be to apply for sponsorship under the outside-Canada process.

The process of gaining citizenship for your common law partner can be confusing and there is a lot involved. Finding a qualified immigration attorney to guide you through the process will make things go more smoothly.

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