And more information from the OP2 Manual
In order to assess whether a relationship is conjugal officers may consider the following types of
• Knowledge of each other’s personal circumstances, background and family situation;
• The duration of the relationship– the longer the duration, the more likely it is conjugal in
• Documents predating by a year or more the application to immigrate to Canada showing:
♦ Travel together;
♦ A chronology of the relationship detailing how the couple first met, the measures taken to
overcome customs, religious or family doctrines;
♦ Evidence of support and commitment to each other through shared information on events
of importance (for example: births, deaths, family gatherings etc.);
• If applicable, documents showing how the couple maintained a long-distance relationship and
made efforts to live in the same country such as: letters to/from foreign officials or government
• Photographs that document the relationship, airline tickets, visas, visa denials, long distance
phone bills or other proof of continuous communication, testaments or life insurance policies
that have been in effect for more than a year in which their partner is named as beneficiary.
5.45. What is a conjugal partner?
This category was created for exceptional circumstances – for foreign national partners of
Canadian or permanent resident sponsors who would ordinarily apply as common-law partners
but for the fact that they have not been able to live together continuously for one year, usually
because of an immigration impediment. In most cases, the foreign partner is also not able to
marry their sponsor and qualify as a spouse. In all other respects, the couple is similar to a
common-law couple or a married couple, i.e., they have been in a bona fide conjugal relationship
for a period of at least one year.
Both marriage and common-law partnership (common-law partnerships may be opposite-sex and
same-sex) are legally recognized in Canada for purposes of federal benefits and obligations
(Modernization of Benefits and Obligations Act, June 2000). In order to be eligible for federal
benefits, couples must either be married or meet the definition of common-law partner in each
statute or regulation. IRPA brought CIC’s immigration legislation into conformity with the
Modernization of Benefits and Obligations Act.
Because of Supreme Court decisions, the choice not to marry is a constitutionally protected
choice. Thus, CIC cannot require couples to marry in order to immigrate. However, if they are not
married, they must be common-law partners. There is NO provision for fiancé(e)s or “intended
common-law partners” in IRPA. If a Canadian and a foreign national can get married or can live
together and establish a common-law relationship, this is what they are expected to have done
before they submit sponsorship and immigration applications.
Marriage immediately creates a legal relationship recognized for immigration purposes. Commonlaw
partners, however, have to meet the definition, including living together continuously for one
year to have their relationship legally recognized. In the immigration context, there are some
exceptional circumstances where a Canadian is in a conjugal relationship with a foreign national
partner and would ordinarily sponsor that person as a common-law partner, but the two have not
been able to live together continuously for one year, usually because immigration rules prevent
them from long stays in one another’s countries. As well, for these individuals, marriage is usually
not an available option. The conjugal partner category is mainly intended for partners where
neither common-law partner status nor marriage is possible, usually because of marital
status or sexual orientation (both analogous grounds of discrimination under the Charter),
combined with an immigration barrier.
For example, the foreign partner may be married but comes from a country where divorce is not
possible or the Canadian and partner may be in a same-sex relationship. In both cases, the
partners probably will not be able to obtain long-stay visas in order to live together in one
another’s country and meet the cohabitation requirement for common-law partners
. Because the
other option – marriage – is not available to these couples, they are permanently separated. This
is unfair and discriminatory. The conjugal partner category provides the ability for a Canadian in
these circumstances to sponsor the foreign national partner. It is not intended to be used to avoid
the usual requirement to be a spouse or common-law partner before immigrating.
The conjugal partner category applies only to the family class and only to a foreign national
sponsored by a Canadian citizen or permanent resident living in Canada. This category does not
apply to the spouse or common-law partner in Canada class as the exception would not be
required in Canada.
Conjugal partners are exempt from meeting the LICO requirements and the excessive medical
demand criteria. There are no conditions attached to their permanent resident visas although
sponsorship is required. As members of the family class, their sponsor has appeal rights.
A conjugal partner is not a common-law partner under Canadian law until the one-year
cohabitation requirement has been met. Applicants should be counselled that they and their
partner will not be considered to be in a common-law relationship for purposes of other federal
benefits and obligations until they have lived together in Canada in a conjugal relationship for at
least one year. The applicant’s Confirmation of Permanent Residence form will not indicate their
marital status as “conjugal partner” since this relationship is not legally recognized in Canada
beyond the IRPA.
5.47 has a lot of good information!
Your other alternative, if you so chose, is to have a civil marriage ceremony - you could then apply as a spouse (or change your application to spouse).
Hope that helps and I wish you luck !