SPOUSE AND DEPENDENT CHILDREN
Sponsoring a spouse, partner or dependent child
If you are a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada, you can sponsor your spouse, common-law partner, conjugal partner, dependent child (including adopted child) or other eligible relative (such as a parent or grandparent) to become a permanent resident.
The process to sponsor your family begins when you, as a citizen or permanent resident in Canada, apply to be a sponsor.
There are two different processes for sponsoring your family. One process is used for sponsoring your spouse, conjugal or common-law partner and/or dependent children. Another process is used to sponsor other eligible relatives.
An application for Family Class sponsorship can be made if your spouse, common-law or conjugal partner, or dependent children who live inside or outside Canada.
You can apply as a sponsor if your spouse, common-law or conjugal partner, or accompanying dependent children live with you in Canada, even if they do not have legal status in Canada. However, all the other requirements must be met.
You can also apply as a sponsor if your spouse, common-law or conjugal partner, or dependent children live outside Canada, and if they meet all the requirements.
To be a sponsor:
- You and the sponsored relative must sign a sponsorship agreement that commits you to provide financial support for your relative, if necessary. This agreement also says the person becoming a permanent resident will make every effort to support her or himself.
- You must provide financial support for a spouse, common-law or conjugal partner for three years from the date they become a permanent resident.
- You must provide financial support for a dependent child for 10 years, or until the child turns 19, whichever comes first.
You may not be eligible to be a sponsor if you:
- failed to provide financial support you agreed to when you signed a sponsorship agreement to sponsor another relative in the past
- defaulted on a court-ordered support order, such as alimony or child support
- receive government financial assistance for reasons other than a disability
- were convicted of a violent criminal offence, any offence against a relative or any sexual offence—depending on circumstances such as the nature of the offence, how long ago it occurred and whether a pardon was issued
- defaulted on an immigration loan—late or missed payments
- are in prison or
- have declared bankruptcy and have not been released from it yet.
Other factors not included in this list might also make you ineligible to sponsor a relative.
If you were married in Canada: You must have a marriage certificate issued by the province or territory where the marriage took place.
If you were married outside Canada: The marriage must be valid under the law of the country where it took place and under Canadian law.
A marriage performed in an embassy or consulate must comply with the law of the country where it took place, not the country of nationality of the embassy or consulate.
Sponsoring your same-sex partner as a spouse
You can apply to sponsor your same-sex partner as a spouse if:
you are a Canadian citizen and permanent resident and
you were married in Canada and issued a marriage certificate by a Canadian province or territory
If you were married outside Canada, you may apply to sponsor your same-sex partner as a spouse as long as the marriage is legally recognized according to both the law of the place where the marriage occurred and under Canadian law. This applies to same-sex marriages performed in the following jurisdictions: Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the State of California (June 16, 2008 – November 5, 2008), the State of Massachusetts, the State of New Hampshire, the State of Connecticut, the State of Iowa, the State of Vermont (effective September 1, 2009). Please note that the above list of jurisdictions is offered as a guide only, and is subject to change. It is your responsibility to provide CIC information about whether or not your same-sex-marriage was legally recognized when and where it occurred.
You are a common-law partner—either of the opposite sex or same sex—if you have been living together in a conjugal relationship for at least one year in a continuous 12-month period that was not interrupted. (You are allowed short absences for business travel or family reasons, however.)
You will need proof that you and your common-law partner have combined your affairs and set up a household together. This can be in the form of:
joint bank accounts or credit cards
joint ownership of a home
joint residential leases
joint rental receipts
joint utilities (electricity, gas, telephone)
joint management of household expenses
proof of joint purchases, especially for household items or
mail addressed to either person or both people at the same address.
This category is for partners—either of the opposite sex or same sex—in exceptional circumstances beyond their control that prevent them from qualifying as common-law partners or spouses by living together.
A conjugal relationship is more than a physical relationship. It means you depend on each other, there is some permanence to the relationship and there is the same level of commitment as a marriage or a common-law relationship.
You may apply as a conjugal partner if you have maintained a conjugal relationship with your sponsor for at least one year and you have been prevented from living together or marrying because of:
- an immigration barrier
- your marital status (for example, you are married to someone else and living in a country where divorce is not possible) or
- your sexual orientation (for example, you are in a same-sex relationship and same-sex marriage is not permitted where you live)
- you can provide evidence there was a reason you could not live together (for example, you were refused long-term stays in each other’s country).
You should not apply as a conjugal partner if:
- You could have lived together but chose not to. This shows that you did not have the level of commitment required for a conjugal relationship. (For example, one of you may not have wanted to give up a job or a course of study, or your relationship was not yet at the point where you were ready to live together.)
- You cannot provide evidence there was a reason that kept you from living together.
- You are engaged to be married. In this case, you should either apply as a spouse once the marriage has taken place or apply as a common-law partner if you have lived together continuously for at least 12 months.
Relationships that are not eligible
You cannot be sponsored as a spouse, a common-law partner or a conjugal partner if:
- you are under 16 years of age
- you (or your sponsor) were married to someone else at the time of your marriage
- you have lived apart from your sponsor for at least one year and either you (or your sponsor) are the common-law or conjugal partner of another person
- your sponsor immigrated to Canada and, at the time they applied for permanent residence, you were a family member who should have been examined to see if you met immigration requirements, but you were not examined or
- your sponsor previously sponsored another spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner, and three years have not passed since that person became a permanent resident.
Characteristics of conjugal relationships
The word “conjugal” is not defined in legislation; however, the factors that are used to determine whether a couple is in a conjugal relationship are described in court decisions. Marriage is a status-based relationship existing from the day the marriage is legally valid until it is severed by death or divorce. A common-law relationship (and in the immigration context, a conjugal partner relationship) is a fact-based relationship which exists from the day on which the two individuals can reasonably demonstrate that the relationship meets the definition set out in the
Regulations. While this is a significant difference, there are many similarities in the two types of relationships. This is because of the history of the recognition in law of common-law relationships and their definition, which includes the word “conjugal.”
Assessment of conjugal relationships
The following are key elements that officers may use to establish whether a couple is in a conjugal relationship. These apply to spouses, common-law partners and conjugal partners. a) Mutual commitment to a shared life to the exclusion of all other conjugal relationships. A conjugal relationship is characterized by mutual commitment, exclusivity, and interdependence and therefore cannot exist among more than two people simultaneously. The word “conjugal” includes the requirement of monogamy and, therefore, an individual cannot be in more than one conjugal relationship at one time. For example, a person cannot have a conjugal relationship with a legally married spouse and another person at the same time. Nor can a person have a conjugal relationship with two unmarried partners at the same time. These would be polygamous-like relationships and cannot be considered conjugal. This does not, however, require that an individual in an unmarried conjugal relationship be divorced from a legally married spouse. See: What happens if the common-law partner (principal applicant) is married to another person. The requirement of exclusivity or monogamy applies in equal measure to marriage, common-law partnership and conjugal partnership. Thus, the common-law and conjugal partner categories cannot be used to get around restrictions related to bigamy and polygamy. By the same token, common-law and conjugal partner relationships are not expected to be any more exclusive than ordinary married relationships. Proof of exclusivity is not usually required in the assessment of these relationships any more than it would be in assessing a marriage. Interdependent – physically, emotionally, financially, socially. The two individuals in a conjugal relationship are interdependent – they have combined their affairs both economically and socially. The assessment of whether two individuals are in a conjugal relationship should focus on evidence of interdependency.
Conditional Permanent Residence
Conditional Permanent Residence means that the sponsor and sponsored partner must live together in a genuine, marriage-like relationship for 2 years from the date the sponsored partner becomes a permanent resident. Only certain sponsored partners are given conditional permanent residence after their application for permanent residence is approved (see below). But, if you do not follow the condition, or your relationship ends before the 2-year conditional period ends, the sponsored partner could lose permanent resident status. If this happens, the sponsored partner may be removed from Canada.
- is under the age of 19 and does not have a spouse or common-law partner;
- is over the age of 19 and has been continuously enrolled as a full-time student and depended substantially on the financial support of a parent since before the age of 19;
- became a spouse or a common-law partner before the age of 19 and has been continuously enrolled as a full-time student and depended substantially on the financial support of a parent since becoming a spouse or common-law partner, or
- is over the age of 19 and depended substantially on the financial support of a parent since before the age of 19 because of a physical or mental condition.
Not a spouse or common-law partner means that the dependent child must not be married or involved in a common-law relationship. A dependent child who is single, divorced, widowed, or whose marriage has been annulled is not a spouse. Similarly, if the dependent child was involved in a common-law relationship but that relationship no longer exists, they may be considered to meet the definition. Children over the age of 19 who may be considered dependent children if they are substantially dependent on their parents for financial support. This includes full-time students enrolled in accredited post secondary institutions or children with a physical or mental condition. In such cases, officers must ask for documentary evidence of full time attendance at school, evidence of the institution’s accreditation with the relevant authority, evidence of the physical or mental condition and evidence of financial dependency on parents.
Lock-in age of dependent children
The lock-in of age for dependent children is the day CPC-M receives a completed application and correct processing fees. Dependent children must be less than 19 years of age when the sponsorship application is received.
Under 19 years means up to and including the last day before the dependent child’s 19nd birthday. Offices must date-stamp application forms as soon as they are received.
Members of the family class are medically inadmissible if they or their family members are likely to be a danger to public health or to public safety or if their admission might reasonably be expected to cause excessive demands on health or social services. If a member of the family class or a family member is found to be inadmissible for medical reasons, and no new information is provided, the application should be refused.
Exceptions to medical inadmissibility
Spouses, common-law partners and dependent children who are members of the family class are not inadmissible even if they have a medical condition that will result in excessive demand to health or social services.
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