Common-law Partners Sponsorships and Temporary Separations
Posted on 02/12/2020
Do you answer yes to these two questions?
- Are you in a common-law relationship and sponsoring your common-law partner for permanent residency in Canada?
- Have you had a temporary separation(s) for reasons like work, business travel, or family obligations?
Then you should be aware of some key differences between sponsoring a married spouse and sponsoring a common-law partner. Here’s what you have to keep in mind to ensure your common-law relationship will still be considered valid by IRCC in Canada, despite temporary separations.
Are common-law relationships and legal marriages basically similar?
No, they’re not.
- A legal marriage is what is called a de jure relationship, meaning it has been established by law and therefore temporary separations do not change that relationship. Only legal separation and/or divorce, or death can legally change a married relationship.
- A common-law relationship is what is called a de facto relationship, meaning that its validity is established on a case-by-case basis, based on the facts in each individual case. This means that temporary separations can indeed run the risk of invalidating your common-law relationship in the eyes of Canadian immigration authorities. It all depends on how they view the facts associated with your specific common-law relationship and whatever temporary separations have occurred between you and your common-law partner.
So, what do we have to prove to Canadian officials at IRCC to have them consider our common-law relationship as valid?
A few things:
- That you are living in a conjugal relationship, sharing living quarters and living in an intimate relationship. This is called cohabitation.
- The onus is on you to provide evidence of your cohabitation. Utility bills with shared addresses, rental or home ownership contracts, shared insurance policies, etc. are thus part of what IRCC requests from you to prove this.
- That you have been living in such a relationship for at least 1 year.
- Your common-law relationship will be considered to exist as legally valid from the day you can provide such evidence.
- That your cohabitation for that first year has been continuous. This means that any separation during that first year has to be:
- Temporary and short
- This means that you have to ensure that any separation is both for legitimate or at least understandable reasons (a death in the family or some urgent business one partner had to attend to in another country, for example), and that it is only as long as necessary.
- Because a common-law relationship is de facto and depends on the assessment of the facts in your specific case, guidelines have to be fairly general about what is an acceptable temporary separation and what is not.
- Once you have established your common-law relationship by having been deemed to have cohabited for 1 continuous year, then you have a little more leeway as to temporary separations. However, you may still have to provide evidence that you plan to continue to live together should an emergency cause a longer period of separation.
- Whether such a longer separation is due to reasons like illness or death in the family, political unrest in a country one of you is in, or employment or education reasons, you both will have to be ready to convince Canadian immigration authorities that your relationship is continuing.
The main way you will do this is through form IMM 5532 Relationship Information & Sponsorship Evaluation. You should also submit other evidence of your continual cohabitation. Remember it is your responsibility to convince immigration authorities that your common-law relationship is genuine.
Go here to download the Sponsorship Guide form IMM 5525 for more information