What is common-law partner sponsorship?

Canadian common-law partner sponsorship is the process of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident sponsoring their partner to live in Canada permanently.

A common-law relationship means an opposite or same-sex couple that has cohabited together in a conjugal or marriage-like relationship for a period of at least one year. The cohabitation must be continuous and not intermittent cohabitation adding to one year, excluding any brief breaks of cohabitation due to work and family obligations.

Let us help you sponsor your common-law partner to Canada. Here are 3 important things you must know to begin the sponsorship process.

1 Requirements for Canadian sponsor

To sponsor a common-law partner you must meet the following:

  • be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident
  • be at least 18 years of age
  • reside in Canada
  • not have been sponsored as a spouse/common-law partner within the last 5 years
  • if they previously sponsored a spouse or partner then three years must have passed since this person became a permanent resident
  • be willing to sign a 3-year undertaking to be financially responsible for your common-law partner once they arrive in Canada
  • not have already applied to sponsor your current spouse, partner or child and a decision on your application has not been made yet
  • not be subject to a removal order
  • not be detained in any prison
  • not have been convicted of any crime of a sexual nature
  • not have been convicted of a crime involving the use of violence punishable by more than 10 years of imprisonment
  • not have been convicted of a crime involving bodily harm to a relative or partner
  • not be in default of any previous sponsorship undertaking
  • not in default of an immigration loan
  • not be in default of any support payments ordered by a court
  • not be an undischarged bankrupt
  • not be in receipt of social assistance other than for a disability

2 Requirements to qualify as a common-law partner

The foreign partner must meet the following criteria:

  • be at least 18 years of age
  • Common-law relationship must be genuine
  • must not be criminally inadmissible

The sponsor and sponsored partner must prove that their relationship is genuine and that it was not entered into for the primary purpose of acquiring status in Canada.

If the immigration authorities believe that the relationship is not genuine or that it was primarily entered into for the primary purpose of acquiring status in Canada, then they will refuse the sponsorship application. The immigration authorities will asses the relationship on various factors, including the duration and quality of the relationship leading up to and during the partnership, cultural factors, and the overall compatibility of the partners.

Common-Law Relationship Requirements

Proving your common-law relationship is genuine

You will need to provide evidence of your common-law relationship and cohabitation, including but not limited to:

  • joint ownership of residential property
  • a joint rental or lease agreement,
  • joint utility accounts such as an electricity bill, gas bill, internet bill, etc.
  • government IDs showing your shared address
  • joint account statements showing shared address such as cellphone bills, bank statements, credit card statements, etc.
  • insurance policies showing each other as a beneficiary such as employment benefits
  • proof of communications such as text messages, emails, social media conversations, etc.
  • proof of visits such as passport stamps, airline itineraries, boarding passes, etc.
  • proof of financial support and/or shared expenses
  • pictures of you and your partner as a couple and with friends and family
  • proof that your relationship is recognized by each other’s friends and families such as support letters
Dependent Children

Dependent Children

If the sponsored partner has a dependent child or children, then a sponsor may sponsor the child or children as well. A dependent child is a child who is younger than 22 years of age and unmarried / not in a common-law relationship. Non-accompanying children must also be added to the application and be examined, including attending a medical examination, in case the sponsored partner wishes to sponsor them later after obtaining permanent residency. Additional documents are required to sponsor dependent children, as well as obtaining the non-accompanying parent’s consent if the child is younger than 18 years of age.

It should be noted that if one of the parents of the dependent child is a Canadian citizen, or if that child was born in Canada, then that child may automatically be considered a Canadian citizen and therefore need not be sponsored. However, a separate application to register them as a Canadian citizen will be required.

Spouse must not have criminal conviction

Common-Law Partner Must Not Be Criminally Inadmissible

Any criminal conviction that is or could be the equivalent of an indictable offence in Canada will in many cases permanently render a foreign national criminally inadmissible to Canada, meaning that they cannot be sponsored or otherwise enter Canada. This will apply to just about any criminal offence, including relatively minor offences such as impaired driving and shoplifting.

A foreign spouse with a criminal record can overcome this inadmissibility by obtaining a pardon or the foreign equivalent of a pardon suspending their criminal record. Another way to overcome the inadmissibility is to make an immigration application for rehabilitation if five years has elapsed since the day that the criminal sentence given was completed. If more than ten years have elapsed since a single, minor conviction, then the foreign national may in some cases be deemed rehabilitated.

» What can I do if my partner has a criminal record?

Matthew Jeffery Immigration Lawyer

Matthew Jeffery Immigration Lawyer

Here's how we can help:

  • Formulate a strategy based on your particular circumstances as to the place, timing and specific contents of the sponsorship application
  • Collect and review supporting documents that sufficiently establish your common-law relationship
  • Provide and complete all necessary immigration forms
  • Guide you to obtain necessary supporting documents like police certificates and medical examinations
  • Provide legal submissions to support your common-law relationship
  • File the application for you at the relevant immigration office
  • Manage all communications with the immigration authorities
  • Respond to any concerns or fairness letters issued to the immigration authorities
  • Prepare you and your common-law partner for any requested interview
  • Provide you with the final result of your application including the permanent resident visa once issued

Our office has years of successful experience assisting clients to immigrate to Canada through the spouse or common-law partner sponsorship category.

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3 Submitting the sponsorship

Where will you submit the sponsorship?

Spouse or common-law partner sponsorship applications can be made either outside of Canada to a visa office abroad, or inside Canada to a local immigration office.

Submit sponsorship
in Canada

Submit sponsorship
outside Canada

In Canada sponsorship

A sponsor and sponsored partner living together in Canada can submit an inland sponsorship application which will be processed within Canada. If the sponsored partner has legal status in Canada, such as a worker, student or visitor, then he or she may apply for an open work permit which will allow him or her to work legally in Canada while the sponsorship application is processing. If the sponsored partner is in Canada and out of status or subject to a removal order, he or she may still be sponsored. However, they will not be able to immediately obtain a work permit, but must wait for first-stage approval of the application before applying for a work permit.

A sponsor and sponsored partner who reside outside of Canada may travel to Canada for the purpose of submitting an inland application provided that the sponsored partner has obtained a temporary visa or is from a visa-exempt country. Obtaining a temporary visa may be difficult as the immigration authorities are generally resistant to granting temporary admission to partners of Canadians since they do not consider them to be genuine visitors, but rather as foreigners who are likely to remain in Canada permanently. In light of this difficulty, where the foreign partner is residing outside of Canada and does not have a temporary resident visa of the right to enter Canada visa-free, it may be preferable to submit an Outside-Canada application as detailed below.

It should be noted that sponsors and sponsored partners living together in Canada must remain living together while their sponsorship application is processing. This means that the sponsor and sponsored partner must physically live together in the same premises for the duration of the sponsorship application. If the immigration authorities believe that the sponsor and the sponsored partner are not cohabitating, it may lead to the sponsorship application being refused.

Outside Canada sponsorship

If the sponsored partner or both the sponsor and the sponsored partner live outside of Canada then they may submit an Outside-Canada application which means that the sponsorship application will be processed by a Canadian visa office abroad, usually located in the Canadian embassy or consulate in or near the country where the sponsored partner resides.

Once an application is submitted, the sponsored partner may travel to Canada to visit or otherwise remain on a temporary basis, provided that they are from a visa-exempt country or have obtained a temporary visa. However, obtaining a temporary visa may prove difficult as the immigration authorities are resistant to admit common-law partners of Canadians as they do not believe them to be genuine visitors, since their usual intention is to remain in Canada permanently. If a sponsored partner wishes to apply for a temporary visa, then he or she will have to provide proof of their intention to return to their country of origin. Sponsored partners from visa-exempt countries are not required to obtain a temporary visa and are free to travel to Canada as they wish up to a maximum of 6 months.

Sponsors and sponsored partners residing in Canada may request that their sponsorship application be processed under the outside of Canada category. This option may be useful if the sponsor and sponsored partner plan to travel together extensively outside of Canada while their application is processing and therefore cohabiting in Canada for the duration of the sponsorship may prove to be difficult.

It should be noted that permanent residents must live in Canada while the sponsorship application is processing, but that Canadian citizens can live abroad while sponsoring, provided that they can prove an intention to return to Canada at the end of the process.

It should be further noted that an added advantage of the outside-Canada common-law partner process is that it provides for an appeal to the Immigration Appeal Division if the application is denied. In comparison, an application made under the in-Canada category does not have this right of appeal, although there is the option of applying for judicial review at the Federal Court. As the appeal to the Immigration Appeal Division is superior to a Federal Court judicial review, those applicants who have concerns that their application may be refused for some reason may prefer to apply under the outside Canada process.

See if you qualify 

Fill out our FREE Assessment form to see if you qualify to sponsor your spouse or partner. If our assessment indicates that you are qualified as a sponsor, we will contact you within one to three business day(s) and provide further information to help you start the process!

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Spouse and Partner Sponsorship Guide

Spouse and Partner Sponsorship FAQ

We've created a FREE downloadable FAQ guide that answers some common questions about how to bring your spouse or partner to Canada.

What our clients say

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Today I won my spousal appeal case. I would like to express my most sincere thanks for the most professional representation. Mr. Jeffrey and his staff worked hard to ensure my success. I admire their work ethic and most of all excellent representation. I feel I have won my life back because of Mr. Jeffrey despite the complexity of my case. I want to thank Maryam for her hard work and her dedication to my case. I would recommend and trust Mr. Jeffery for all types of immigration cases.

Roya Aghashirin

I used Matthew Jeffrey’s legal services for my husband’s appeal process and I am so glad I did! I wish I would have done this from the beginning of the sponsorship process but I’m happy I had the team on my side when it mattered. Absolutely professional, courteous and realistic (about options, upfront about costs and realistic total cost). They were by my side, advising me throughout my appeal process and hearing. Highly recommend!

Roxie Iliuta

My husband and I highly recommend this lawyer office for spousal sponsorship. Special recognition goes to John. All of our questions and concerns were addressed in a timely manner and explained well. Because of them, my husband from Guyana was able to come to Canada to live with me. The process was completed in about 14 months (despite covid delays).

Kait L

Congratulations to this lawyer he did a perfect job during my spousal sponsorship , thanks to God and to Matthew Jeffery I'm with my wife in Canada as PR. I highly recommend this lawyer!!!

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