Canada’s diverse range of immigration programmes make it an alluring destination for immigrants from around the world and its Conjugal Partner Sponsorship programme is one such programme which is gaining prominence because of its liberal approach and wide scope of application. This sponsorship programme is beneficial especially for those couples who do not qualify for the country’s spousal sponsorship programme and the common-law partner programme.

Who is a conjugal partner for the purposes of immigration?

In essence, a conjugal partner is any individual who’s living outside Canada and with whom you have been involved in a relationship for over a year; and you cannot live together due to circumstances which are beyond your control. This aspect is imperative, since if it comes to the fore that the two individuals are living apart on their will, their conjugal sponsorship application might not get approved. Some of the circumstances which qualify as being out of an individual’s control are contentious aspects such as different religious beliefs, sexual orientations, immigration hurdles and other socio-cultural barriers.

Difference between a conjugal partner and a spouse

A conjugal partner is different from a spousal partner in the sense that for a person to qualify as a conjugal partner, marriage isn’t a defining factor. The definition of a conjugal relationship isn’t restricted to a just a relationship’s ‘physical’ or ‘sexual’ aspect, as for a person to qualify as your conjugal partner a whole host of other factors come into play as well. For a relationship to qualify as a conjugal one, the two individuals must be interdependent on each other on financial, social, emotional or physical grounds. Provided that its other conditions are met, the Canadian government recognises any individual as a conjugal partner, and doesn’t discriminate on the grounds of their gender, caste, creed or ethnicity.

If you are planning on applying for a conjugal sponsorship, we’d advise you to also go through the guidelines and stipulations mentioned for the ‘common-law partner’ sponsorship applications as you might not be considered in the conjugal partner sponsorship category if your application qualifies as a common-law partnership.

Requirements for sponsoring a conjugal partner to come to Canada

The sponsor wishing to fill in the conjugal partner sponsorship application must be a Canadian national or permanent resident, above the age of 18 and they must sign an undertaking which declares them as being capable of taking care of their conjugal partner’s basic needs for a period of three years. This means that you must be in a position to cater to their essential needs such as accommodation, clothing, food and health services which fall outside the purview of the Canadian public health service. It is also important for you to prove that you aren’t financially dependent on any of the social assistance schemes; unless you are differently abled.

It is important to note that the three-year undertaking begins from the day your conjugal partner becomes a permanent resident and it shall remain in effect throughout that period even if your relationship with your conjugal partner breaks down.

Subjective assessment of relationship

Sinc, a conjugal relationship does not exist on paper in the form of a legal document, the final call on every conjugal sponsorship application rests with the Canadian Supreme Court. The Supreme Court assesses an application on a variety of subjective factors such as the mutual commitment of the two partners, the exclusivity of their relationship, their sexual preferences, their ability to financially and emotionally support one another, among other factors; before taking a call on the application’s status.

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IRCC’s eligibility criteria for conjugal partners

In addition to satisfying the aforementioned criteria, a sponsor must also satisfy the following eligibility criteria set by IRCC:

  1. Intend to live in Canada during undertaking period: The sponsor must be a Canadian national or permanent resident who intends to live in Canada with their conjugal partner throughout the undertaking period. Permanent residents who are living overseas cannot sponsor a conjugal partner.
  2. A satisfactory LICO score: Every year the Canadian government decides a low-income-cut-off score which every sponsor must satisfy in order to be eligible for the conjugal partnership procedure. In addition to your LICO score, you must also attach a Financial Evaluation form in your application, unless you are living or planning to live in Quebec.
  3. Legally bound to repay social assistance: The sponsor must also accept that they are legally bound to repay the full amount of social assistance your conjugal partner avails during the undertaking period (if applicable).

The province of Quebec has its separate set of conditions which you must satisfy in order to get your conjugal sponsorship application approved.

Factors that can make you ineligible to sponsor a conjugal partner

Even though the conjugal sponsorship programme provides great flexibility and scope of application to unmarried couples, there are still various factors due to which you might be ineligible to sponsor a conjugal partner, such as:

Defaulted on social assistance repayment: If you had previously sponsored someone and defaulted on any of their social assistance repayments, while their undertaking period was active, then you might be declared ineligible to sponsor anyone else until you repay the full amount.

Declared bankruptcy: If you have filed for bankruptcy and the procedure hasn’t been finished by the time you are submitting your conjugal sponsorship application, then your application will get rejected since your conjugal partner will remain financially dependent on you for their essential needs during their undertaking period.

Nature of your relationship: Even though marriage isn’t necessary for your relationship to qualify as a conjugal one, individuals who are engaged in relationships which transcend the boundaries of monogamous relationships; and engage in bigamous or polygamous relationships will not be able to sponsor a conjugal partner. You won’t be able to sponsor an individual as your conjugal partner if your relationship with them has broken down and you two have been separated for more than a year.

Criminal record: Individuals convicted of crimes such as domestic abuse, wherein they’ve caused physical harm to their previous partner or family member, are ineligible to sponsor a conjugal partner. Even attempts at committing crimes such as violence and sexual abuse aren’t taken lightly.

Thus, it is easy to see why Canada’s conjugal sponsorship programme has emerged as a popular immigration option for unmarried couples and is becoming a great way of reuniting individuals separated by socio-cultural barriers and distances.

Get in touch with us to gain further clarity into this topic and several other immigration-related queries.