Common-Law Partner

A common-law partner is a person who shares a conjugal relationship with another person and that person can be either of the opposite sex or the same-sex.  The common-law partnership must show evidence of cohabitation in a conjugal relationship. The common-law partnership is a de facto relationship whereas marriage is considered as a de jure relationship. A common-law partner is:

  • Not legally married;
  • Of opposite sex or same-sex;
  •  At least 18 years of age;
  • Someone who can share a marriage like/conjugal relationship with.
  • Someone who has been living together for the past one year with periods apart only for business or family purposes.
  • Someone who has spent short and temporary time apart.

Assessing a Common-Law Partnership

A common-law partnership can be assessed with multiple factors of which some of them are as follow:

  • Declaration of common-law partnership
  • Statements of shared bank accounts
  • Statements of shared credit/debit cards
  • Evidence of mutual ownership of property
  • Evidence of shared rent
  • Shared utility bills
  • Evidence of same mailing address
  • Proof of household purchases and management of household expenditures together
  • Other documents that may show proof of cohabitation such as insurance policies, ids, and drivers licenses.

Sponsoring a Common-Law Partnership

If you are in a legitimate common-law partnership and wish to sponsor your partner to Canada the following situations may be considered for your sponsorship.


Cohabitation refers to two people living together in a household with a setup of mutual understanding.  Common-law partners must be living together for at least 12 months according to the law. There can only be interim separation for legitimate purposes such as business trips or family visits, obligations or study purposes.

Sponsoring a Common-Law Partner Abroad

After one year of continuous cohabitation, a common-law partner may live apart for temporary periods maintaining their common-law partnership. The couple may have been separated due to reasons such as:

  • Educational purposes
  • Employment reasons
  • Death or illness of a family member
  • Extreme country conditions such as war or political unrest.

If such reasons exist the couple may still apply for sponsorship providing they have evidence to support their circumstances and proof of intention to continue the partnership. A longer period of separation may prove to be detrimental in supporting the application. Thus, just like a marriage relationship, the common-law partnership should determine the intentions of staying and getting back together as soon as possible.

Sponsoring a Common-law Partner with a prior common-law relationship

A common-law partner with a prior common-law relationship may only be sponsored upon the death of the prior partner or clear evidence of the conclusion of prior relationship. There must be ample evidence to convince the officer that there is no more cohabitation and the relationship has ended with the previous partner.

Sponsoring a Common-law Partner legally married to someone else

A common-law partner who has been previously married but is on the verge of a divorce may be sponsored providing enough evidence that he/she has cohabited with the current common-law partner for at least one year and shares a conjugal relationship. Cohabitation with the current common-law partner means physical separation from prior spouse and thus cannot be established if the partner remains in a conjugal relationship with the former spouse. Thus it is imperative to satisfy the officer. Additional evidence may be required such as:

  • A separation agreement.
  • A signed declaration of the annulment of the marriage and that the person is now in a conjugal relationship.
  • Documents showing that the legally married spouse will be withdrawn from mutual insurance policies and beneficiaries.
  • A court order stating the future of the children regarding custody and alimony.
Sponsoring a Common-law Partner who is a previously separated spouse

A legally separated spouse who was a non-accompanying family member and was not disclosed because the sponsor was in a common-law or conjugal relationship with Canadian Partner can NOT be sponsored by the spouse in Canada.  In such cases, the visa officer must have to satisfy that the common-law partnership is not dissolved purely for immigration purposes and the new relationship with the previously separate spouse is legit and the officer will determine the R4.1 does not apply.

As per the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations R 4(1)(a)(b):

“Bad faith

  • 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 sponsor will provide ample evidence proving the prior common-law relationship has ended and a new relationship with a previous spouse or common-law partner is legitimate. Additional evidence may be requested by the officer such as:

  • Proof of ownership of property such as mortgage
  • Proof of joint accounts such as financial statements
  • Documents showing the same addresses such as licenses, insurance policies, etc.
  • Documents ensuring marital relationships.

Divorce and remarriage do not overcome exclusion. A previously married spouse may be only excluded if they were married but not examines at the time that the sponsor applied for permanent residence.

Prohibited Common-law Partnerships

Prohibited common-law partnerships are as follow:

  • Cannot be established with more than one person at a time
  • Polygamous relationships
  • Consanguine relationships
  • Incestuous relationships
  • Relationships in which one or both partners are below the consent age
  •  A relationship in which one of the partners is detained.
Process for applying Common-Law Sponsorship Application

The sponsor remains in Canada while the person being sponsored waits in their home country. The inland common-law sponsorship will allow the person to be sponsored to reside in Canada providing that he/she attains a temporary visit visa (except for nationals of visa-exempt countries) In case the visa is denied the applicant may have to apply for sponsorship under the outside-Canada process.

Let us help you in sponsoring your common-law partner today. We have a professional team having years of experience handling such complex cases and can help you to file your application.