How Can I Prove That My Relationship is Genuine?

Spousal Sponsorship: How Can I Prove That My Relationship is Genuine?

To sponsor your spouse or common-law partner, you must show the immigration authorities that you are in a genuine relationship with each other. But how do you prove that your relationship is genuine? This article outlines some of the best ways to prove that you and your partner are in a genuine relationship. 

We answer the following questions in this article:

What do we mean when we say that a relationship is genuine?

The immigration authorities are concerned with what are called “bad faith relationships” or “marriages of convenience”. These are also sometimes known as ‘green card marriages’ and refer to when a relationship is entered into primarily for immigration purposes. It is against the law to enter a relationship solely to obtain permanent residence in Canada. Thus, the authorities require you to prove that your relationship is genuine when applying to sponsor your conjugal or common-law partner or spouse.

How does the law define a genuine relationship?

Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (“IRPA”)
Section 4 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations prohibits bad faith relationships, stating:

  • 4 (1) For the purposes of these Regulations, a foreign national shall not be considered a spouse, a common-law partner or a conjugal partner of a person if the marriage, common-law partnership or conjugal partnership
    • (a) was entered into primarily for the purpose of acquiring any status or privilege under the Act; or
    • (b) is not genuine

The immigration authorities focus on the intention of one or both partners at the time of entering the partnership to determine whether the relationship was entered into primarily for immigration purposes. S.4 applies to those who at the time of marriage, entered the marriage for the primary purpose of seeking immigration status.

What factors affect the genuineness of a marriage?

Chavez v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration), 2005 IAD TA3-24409 – In Chavez, the Immigration Appeal Division set out different factors that can affect the genuineness of the marriage, noting that each case will be slightly different. The Chavez factors include, but are not limited to:

  • the intent of the parties to the marriage
  • the length of the relationship
  • the amount of time spent together
  • conduct at the time of meeting, at the time of an engagement and/or the wedding
  • behaviour subsequent to a wedding
  • the level of knowledge of each other’s relationship histories
  • level of continuing contact and communication
  • the provision of financial support
  • the knowledge of and sharing of responsibility for the care of children brought into the marriage
    the knowledge of and contact with extended families of the parties
  • as well as the level of knowledge of each other’s daily lives

How do you prove a common-law relationship?

Common-law partners are two people who have been living together continuously for at least one year in a marriage-like relationship. For immigration purposes, this has the same legal effect as being married and is a basis for a sponsorship.

How do you prove you live together in a common-law relationship?

For common-law relationships, you will need to provide evidence that you have lived together for at least one year. There are many ways that you can prove that you live together. Any official documents that list your common address may be submitted, such as driver’s licenses, bank statements, or a rental agreement or lease.

For marriage, there is no required timeframe for living together before you are able to sponsor your spouse.

How do you prove a conjugal relationship?

Conjugal relationships can be very difficult to prove. We recommend seeking the services of an expert immigration lawyer before applying to sponsor a conjugal partner.

You will need to show that the conjugal relationship has existed for at least one year. You will also need to show extenuating reasons why you have not been able to cohabitate for a year or get married. You need to have been separated for reasons beyond your control, such as the fact that you are in a same-sex relationship in a country where you’d face government persecution, you can’t be together for religious reasons, or you must remain separated due to war.

The mere fact that you live in two separate countries and living together or getting married would be logistically difficult is not sufficient to prove a conjugal relationship.

To prove that you are legally married, you must submit an original copy of your marriage certificate, plus a certified translation if the marriage certificate is not in English or French.

How do you prove your partner is unmarried?

If you or your partner have been previously married, you will need to provide a divorce certificate. Like the marriage certificate, you will need the original copy and a certified translation if it was not issued in English or French.

What can be used as proof of relationship?

There are many documents that you can provide to prove that your relationship is genuine. This includes things like:

  • Shared bank accounts
  • Bills you pay together
  • Lease with both your names on it
  • Letters of support from friends and family
  • Wedding invitations
  • Photos from the course of your relationship


If you are interested in applying to sponsor your common-law or conjugal partner or spouse, and think you may have difficulty proving the genuineness of your relationship, we highly recommend contacting a qualified and experienced immigration lawyer. At the Law Office of Matthew Jeffery, we have years of experience assisting clients with complicated cases to successfully sponsor their partners. Please CONTACT US today or fill out a free Family Sponsorship Assessment form to see if you qualify to sponsor your spouse or partner to Canada.

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Fill out our FREE Family Sponsorship Assessment form to see if you qualify to sponsor your spouse or partner to Canada.