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Canada Spousal Sponsorship: Key Insights and Advice

A couple walking hand in hand on a serene path, symbolizing the journey of Canada's spousal sponsorship program.

In order to bring their loved ones to Canada, many Canadian citizens and permanent residents may wonder if they can sponsor their boyfriend or girlfriend. While the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) recognizes married couples, common-law partners, and conjugal relationships, there is often confusion between common-law and conjugal sponsorship, as well as the evidence required to prove the relationship. This article aims to clarify the distinctions between these types of sponsorships and outline the specific sponsorship requirements set out by the IRCC.

Common-Law Sponsorship

Any Canadian citizen or permanent resident who wishes to sponsor their common-law partner must submit a Common-Law Sponsorship Application. In the context of immigration, a common-law partnership refers to a couple who has lived together for at least a year in a relationship that resembles marriage. It is important to note that legal marriage is not a requirement for a common-law partnership, but the couple must provide evidence that they live or have lived together in a "marriage-like" relationship.

The requirements for common-law partnerships are as follows:

  1. Living Together: The couple should have lived together for at least a year. Even if they have lived together in the past but are currently living apart, they are still eligible to submit a sponsorship application.

  2. Romantic Relationship: The couple must be in a romantic relationship, demonstrating their commitment and emotional connection.

  3. Monogamous Relationship: The couple should maintain a monogamous relationship, showing that they are exclusive to each other.

  4. Social and Financial Connection: The couple's social and financial lives should be intertwined, indicating a level of commitment and shared responsibilities.

To sponsor a common-law partner, the sponsor can include Form IMM5409, Statutory Declaration of Common-Law Union, in their sponsorship application.

Conjugal Sponsorship

A Canadian citizen or permanent resident can apply for conjugal sponsorship to bring their partner to Canada. A conjugal relationship refers to a relationship that is "marriage-like" but where the couple is unable to marry or live together due to circumstances beyond their control. It is important to note that conjugal relationships are distinct from marriages and common-law partnerships.

To be eligible for conjugal sponsorship, the following requirements must be met:

  1. Living Outside Canada: The sponsor's partner must be living outside Canada.

  2. One-Year Relationship: The sponsor and their partner must have been in a relationship for at least one year.

  3. Inability to Live Together: The couple must provide evidence that they are unable to live together as a couple due to reasons beyond their control, such as immigration barriers, religious reasons, or sexual orientation.

It is crucial to understand that conjugal sponsorships are rare and should only be pursued if the couple genuinely meets the requirements. In many cases, satisfying the criteria for spousal or common-law sponsorship may be more appropriate.

Spousal Sponsorship Canada Requirements

The IRCC has specific requirements for both common-law partnerships and co-habitation.

IRCC Common-Law Requirements

To prove a common-law partnership, the sponsor and their partner need to provide documentary evidence, including:

  1. Relationship Information and Sponsorship Evaluation: The application package should include a completed Relationship Information and Sponsorship Evaluation questionnaire (IMM 5532).

  2. Proof of Separation: If either the sponsor or the partner was previously married, proof of separation from the former spouse should be provided.

  3. Severance of Common-Law Union: If either the sponsor or the partner was previously in a common-law relationship with someone else, a completed Statutory Declaration of Severance of Common-Law Union form (IMM 5519) should be included.

  4. Birth Certificates or Adoption Records: Long-form birth certificates for any children, if applicable, or adoption records listing the names of both parents should be provided.

  5. Photos: Photos of the sponsor and their partner showing that they are in a conjugal relationship should be included.

  6. Minimum Two Sets of Documents: If the sponsor and principal applicant are unable to provide documents from at least two sets of documents, a detailed written explanation must be provided. These sets of documents may include important documents showing recognition as common-law partners, evidence of financial support or shared expenses, and proof of the relationship being recognized by friends or family.

If the sponsor and principal applicant are presently living together, evidence of at least two documents proving that they have been living together for at least a year is required. Examples of such documents may include proof of joint ownership of residential property, rental agreements, joint utility accounts, joint credit card accounts or bank accounts, and government-issued documents showing the same address.

If the sponsor and principal applicant are not currently living together, they must provide proof that they lived together for at least a year in the past. This may include letters, printed text messages, emails, social media conversations, or other documented proof of contact. Proof of the sponsor's visits, such as airline tickets or passport stamps, may also be necessary.

IRCC Co-habitation Requirements

For co-habitation requirements, evidence should establish that the spouse or common-law partner and the sponsor are living together in Canada. Documents that may serve as proof of co-habitation include joint bank accounts or credit cards, joint ownership of residential property, joint residential leases, joint rental receipts, joint utility accounts, and joint management of household expenditures. Other evidence may include correspondence addressed to both parties at the same address, identification documents showing the same address, shared responsibility for household management and chores, and the presence of children residing with the couple.

It is important to note that the IRCC may request additional documents or conduct interviews if the evidence provided is not clear or sufficient.


In conclusion, understanding the IRCC requirements for sponsoring unmarried couples is essential for Canadian citizens and permanent residents who wish to bring their partners to Canada. Whether it is through common-law or conjugal sponsorship, providing the necessary evidence and meeting the specific criteria set by the IRCC is vital. By following the guidelines and providing the requested documentation, couples can increase their chances of a successful sponsorship application and reunite with their loved ones in Canada.

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This update has been compiled with the latest available information for the general information of Border Law clients and other interested parties. This Update is not comprehensive and should not be relied upon without appropriate legal advice.


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