Canadian citizens or permanent residents can sponsor their foreign common-law partners for permanent residence in Canada. To qualify as common-law partner for immigration purposes, the couple must have lived together continuously for at least one year.
Many foreign partners enter Canada as visitors to stay with their Canadian other half. Visitor visas (aka “Temporary Resident Visas”) are valid for up to six months. The question then becomes, if the foreign partner can only remain in Canada for up to six months, how can they meet the one-year cohabitation requirement necessary to qualify as common-law?
How To Meet the One-Year Requirement as Common-Law Partners?
The answer is relatively simple. Visitor visas can be extended from within Canada for a further six months, repeatedly if necessary. The applicant will need to show that they have a reason why they wish to remain in Canada, and will have to show sufficient financial assets to support themselves during their visit.
By extending visitor status for a further six months or more, a foreign partner can remain living with their Canadian partner for one year continuously, upon which an application for permanent residence under the common-law partner category can be made.
Other Options For Common-Law Partners to Visit Canada
It may also be possible for the foreign partner to enter Canada with some other type of temporary residence which has a longer duration. For example, a study permit may be valid for up to four years, depending on the length of the course of study. To obtain a study permit, the foreign partner would need to obtain acceptance into a school program in Canada, and show that they have the financial capacity to support themselves for the duration of their studies.
A work permit is another type of temporary status that may be one or more years in duration and would facilitate living with a Canadian partner for a year. However, a work permit may be difficult to obtain, as they usually first require a job offer from a Canadian employer, plus an approved Labour Market Impact Assessment from Service Canada.
Sometimes it is not possible for a foreign partner to get any kind of visa to Canada. In this instance the Canadian could go to the foreign partner’s country of nationality, or some third country both can go to, and live with them there for a year.
In other cases, it is not possible for both partners to live together for one year because of work or other commitments that prevent them both from being in one place for that long. In this situation, those in a serious relationship may wish to consider marriage. If a couple is married, the Canadian can sponsor the other spouse for permanent residence and the couple does not need to show that they have been living together for a year.
Where both living together for a year and marriage are not possible, there is the option of a conjugal partner sponsorship application. However, it should be noted that a conjugal partner category is not intended for fiancés, or simply because it is not convenient for the couple to live together or marry, a conjugal partner application is only for those who cannot marry or live together. It is a kind of exception category for those rare instances where the couple cannot access either the common-law partner or spousal sponsorship categories.
How Can We Help
The Law Office of Matthew Jeffery has many years of experience assisting clients with common-law partner sponsorship applications. For further information, please fill out the Family Sponsorship Free Assessment Form on our website, or Contact Us with any specific questions.