What is Conjugal Partner Sponsorship?
Conjugal partner sponsorship is one of the three recognized relationship types for spousal sponsorship recognized by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), alongside spousal and common-law sponsorship. It refers to an exclusive, marriage-like relationship of at least 12 months, where due to cultural, social, or legal barriers, legally marrying or living together is not possible.
Who Qualifies as a Conjugal Partner?
A conjugal partner is at least 18 years old, with whom a Canadian citizen or permanent resident has an exclusive relationship for a period of at least 12 months. The conjugal partner sponsorship stream recognizes that certain couples face challenges in formalizing their relationship through marriage or living together. It allows individuals who are in significant, long-term relationships but are unable to meet the criteria of a legal marriage or cohabitation to be sponsored for immigration by their Canadian partner. The aim is to ensure that committed couples facing genuine obstacles to living together can reunite in Canada and continue their relationship while complying with immigration regulations.
How Do You Prove a Conjugal Relationship for Spousal Sponsorship?
Among the three categories of relationship recognized by IRCC for spousal sponsorship, applying as conjugal partners is the most difficult. Conjugal partners need to provide much of the same genuine relationship documentation as spouses and common-law partners, such as proof of financial support and shared expenses, relationship support letters, photographs, and proof of travel.
Importantly, conjugal partner sponsorship requires documentation to prove that there are real barriers to getting legally married, and to living together. These barriers must be more than just financial or employment related - they should be legal, social, cultural, or religious.
Documentation that can be used to demonstrate a conjugal relationship includes affidavits from family members and friends, copies of local marriage laws, and reports on cultural and social conditions in the country of residence.
Common Reasons for Sponsorship in the Conjugal Partner Category
- Divorce is not possible in country of residence
In some countries, such as the Philippines, divorce after marriage is not recognized. As a result, someone who has separated from their former spouse will still remain legally married to them. This makes the person ineligible to be sponsored by a Canadian under the spousal category. Conjugal partner sponsorship is possible for sponsored people in this situation.
- Same-sex partners in a country where such relationships are not recognized
Some countries countries still do not recognize same-sex marriage. Additionally, same-sex partners may face significant cultural barriers and concerns for their safety that prevent them from living together, making it impossible to establish a common-law relationship. Provided that in all other respects the sponsor and sponsored person can demonstrate a genuine relationship, conjugal partner sponsorship is an option.
Advice for your Conjugal Partner Sponsorship Application
Because of the high burden of proof required for this sponsorship category, we recommend that you exhaust all options for obtaining a legal marriage or common-law status prior to undertaking a conjugal sponsorship application. If IRCC is not convinced of the barriers to marriage or common-law status, they could refuse the application.
When undertaking a conjugal partner sponsorship application, documentation from a variety of sources is crucial to demonstrate your eligibility to IRCC. It is also likely that the sponsor and/or sponsored person will be required to attend an interview, so it is wise to prepare for this in advance.