+1(514) 937-9445 or Toll-free (Canada & US) +1 (888) 947-9445

Are we Common Law? Have we lived together for a year?

Oct 30, 2019
17
1
Looking for some advice as to whether we'll be classed as Common Law? or what issues we might face when submitting our sponsorship application?

I met my girlfriend in March 2016, she's Canadian, and I'm Scottish. We then kept in contact and travelled back and forth between Scotland and Canada to see each other. Notable travels together between 2017 and 2019 were:

- Twice in Canada for a few months - In Scotland a few times for a 2 or 3 weeks
- House sat in Norway together for a month
- Met for a few days in Lithuania
- Road trip around the US for two months, followed by a month house sitting on Vancouver Island.

Then in November 2019 I moved to Canada to be with her. I arrived as a visitor and we lived in a friends basement for a couple of months when we then realised we needed to look for a house. A couple of months then followed in my girlfriends mums basement suite as covid began, but we also found a house that we were able to purchase. I've not been here for 15 months with extensions to my visitors record.

We moved in at the end of May 2020.

When we lived with our friends and her mum, we paid them some rent, however there was no paperwork or legal agreement.

So my question is, when does our year of living together begin?

November 2019 when I arrived in Canada? or the date we were able to buy a house together?


The other issue we're having is that I can't seem to get my name added to much in the way of the house or bills as I'm not a Canadian so it seems strange that they ask for these things. I'm able to get my name on the mailing section of a few, but not the actual bills. That topic probably deserves a whole new post though!

Any help is greatly appreciated.

Thanks.
 

armoured

VIP Member
Feb 1, 2015
4,246
2,264
So my question is, when does our year of living together begin?

November 2019 when I arrived in Canada? or the date we were able to buy a house together?


The other issue we're having is that I can't seem to get my name added to much in the way of the house or bills as I'm not a Canadian so it seems strange that they ask for these things. I'm able to get my name on the mailing section of a few, but not the actual bills. That topic probably deserves a whole new post though!
In your case, the question really comes down to what you can document as to the beginning of your time living together. You certainly could try to start from November 19, but documenting that may be difficult - esp since you just were borrowing space and moving a fair bit. Or you could choose some other date between which you can document.

This is not to say it can't be done, but it's a long process to risk getting disqualified at the end on what amounts to a technicality. (They also clearly give more scrutiny to such cases and they can be picky - it seems - about informal living arrangements on the basis that it's not a joint household)

You also don't say what documentation you have such as being on the property ownership for the house, etc. That could potentially be an issue even choosing a starting date of May. But no doubt it will be safer and easier to document beginning then (and therefore waiting to apply until May this year).

You can avoid all this, of course, by simply getting married and applying for residence as soon as you have the marriage certificate. With your relationship history it would, in principle, be a straigthforward app.

Up to you of course.
 
Oct 30, 2019
17
1
UPDATED WITH WHAT EVIDENCE WE HAVE:

I've realised we'd only need proof of living at my partners mothers house, and even then... by the time they look at our application it might be the end of May which will be one year in our home anyway? However, we've only 24 days left to submit the application as I started the process in my account with the paperwork.

Based on the common law partner checklist:

*means we don't have, or partial.


  1. IMM 5532 - We will have this completed form.
  2. Photos - of both of us while travelling in the US, Canada, Scotland, Lithuania, Norway, and with my family in Scotland, and my partners family in Canada.
  3. Important documents for the principal applicant and sponsor showing they are recognized as each other’s common-law partner (such as employment or insurance benefits) - my partner has managed to add me as her primary person on her benefits.
  4. Documentary evidence of financial support between the principal applicant and sponsor, and/or shared expenses - I have a receipt for a microwave I bought with my name and current address of the home we share. I also have 2 x transferwise payments from my account to my partners account to help pay for our house.
  5. *Other proof that the relationship is recognized by friends and/or family (e.g. letters from friends/family, social medical information showing a public relationship) - I have a thank you letter from my cousin for his wedding present addressed to our home, and to both of us. Not sure what other things this refers to... social media post with photo of us at her work event? post by a friend when we moved out of her place before her mums? Night out with friends family posted on instagram? We could ask friends and family to write a letter saying we live together? would it then need to be with a notary?
  6. *Proof of joint ownership of residential property - When buying our house we came across various obstacles, I can't remember the exact ins and outs however I'm sure most related to owning a house or obtaining a mortgage, or insurance, etc as a foreigner with only a visitor record. So the house title is only in my partners name.
  7. *Rental agreement showing both the sponsor and principal applicant as occupants of a rental property - same issue as above, we only stayed in my partner's mum's basement suite. The only way I can think to obtain this would be a letter from her stating we stayed there while saving cash and looking for a house? However... we moved in together at the end of May, so by the time they potentially read our application it will be over a year since this anyway?
  8. *Proof of joint utility accounts (e.g. electricity, gas, telephone, Internet), joint credit card accounts, or joint bank accounts - Electricity - NO. Gas - NO. Water and Waste - supposedly they've agreed to put in my name, new bill arrives in 2 weeks time. Telephone - I have a Shaw mobile phone account in my name at our address. Internet - I have our home internet in my name only at our address, they don't allow two names. We have American Express cards, I am the second card in my name on my partners account, hoping that counts as a shared account. Bank account - ATB, and TD Trust - both won't let me on the accounts as I am only on a visitor visa. Being a permanent resident, student, worker, or similar seems to be a requirement to open a bank account in Canada. If anyone knows how to do this on a visitor record I'd appreciate the information.
  9. *Vehicle insurance showing that both the principal applicant and sponsor have been declared to the insurance company as residents of the insured’s address - Need to be a resident of Canada, managed to get my name on as a second name on the mailing information that is all.
  10. *Copies of government-issued documents for the principal applicant and sponsor showing the same address (e.g. driver’s licenses) - I have a letter accepting my visa extension addressed to her mum's address that came from IRCC. I also have an envelope that says UK Home Office from when they sent me my new passport. A driving license seems impossible. In Alberta, after being here for one year you are no longer allowed to drive, and there is no way of obtaining a driving license, the only way to extend this is to leave the country and come back, which I can't do either. This seems a ridiculous rule which has majorly affected my freedom of movement, my mental healthy, and actually being of any use to my partner. A 50min walk to the supermarket in -40'c to - 50'c to get some supplies and then walk back seems crazy when I have a car that we bought sitting outside that I'm not allowed to drive, and could be many months or even a year? before I am able to drive it. It basically seems that on a visitor record you're not allowed to do anything at all for a couple of years, health, work, drive, get a covid test, etc etc. Anyway... if anyone knows how to drive again that would be great! Rant over.
  11. Other documents issued to the principal applicant and sponsor showing the same address, whether the accounts are held jointly or not (e.g. cellphone bills, pay stubs, tax forms, bank or credit card statements, insurance policies) - My partner has lots of bills and documents no problem at all. I have my mobile bill, and the things listed above.
Sorry for such a long post, very grateful to anyone who takes the time to read or respond. Might have to post the later part as a new post due to the information overload.

We've not got married for a few reasons, but we didn't want to get married due to the pressure of a visa application or feel like it's why we were getting married. It's something we'd like to look into on our own terms in the next couple of years.
 

armoured

VIP Member
Feb 1, 2015
4,246
2,264
I've realised we'd only need proof of living at my partners mothers house, and even then... by the time they look at our application it might be the end of May which will be one year in our home anyway? However, we've only 24 days left to submit the application as I started the process in my account with the paperwork.
I don't understand what the deadline of 24 days you are referring to is.

But I think you are missing the point a bit: the key thing is to be able to demonstrate joint household, beginning a certain date, one year before the day you sign and submit. Minimum. If you cannot document that start date, and well, high likelihood it will run into problems. (And yes, relatively frequent stories here of those who applied and didn't quite meet the technical date test and/or didn't convincingly show a joint household and relationship equivalent to marriage).

We've not got married for a few reasons, but we didn't want to get married due to the pressure of a visa application or feel like it's why we were getting married. It's something we'd like to look into on our own terms in the next couple of years.
Common law IS marriage. That's what it means. It is a legal status. If you can resolve the serious legal and immigration issues that can come up from insufficient documentation of your common law marriage by entering into the legal status that is basically equivalent to common law marriage known as "marriage", then just do it.

If you wish to have a religious wedding later or fairytale ceremony with pumpkin carriages and whatnot a few years down the road when you feel you're 'ready' or just want to have a big party, no-one is stopping you.

But it makes no sense to claim common law status on the one hand and on the other say you're not ready for marriage. They're the same (or very similar) legal structure.
 

scylla

VIP Member
Jun 8, 2010
71,713
11,312
Toronto
Category........
Visa Office......
Buffalo
Job Offer........
Pre-Assessed..
App. Filed.......
28-05-2010
AOR Received.
19-08-2010
File Transfer...
28-06-2010
Passport Req..
01-10-2010
VISA ISSUED...
05-10-2010
LANDED..........
05-10-2010
UPDATED WITH WHAT EVIDENCE WE HAVE:

I've realised we'd only need proof of living at my partners mothers house, and even then... by the time they look at our application it might be the end of May which will be one year in our home anyway?
Unfortunately this is not the way it works. You need to have at least one year of continuous cohabitation at the time your application is received by IRCC. This is also the period of time IRCC will review carefully for evidence. They won't care about the period after the application was submitted. They will focus on the year before the application was submitted and this is where you need to make sure you have strong enough evidence to prove a full year of continuous cohabitation.
 
  • Like
Reactions: YVR123 and armoured
Oct 30, 2019
17
1
I don't understand what the deadline of 24 days you are referring to is.
Once you start your application on the website, it gives you 60 days to complete it. We have 24 days remaining to submit.

But I think you are missing the point a bit: the key thing is to be able to demonstrate joint household, beginning a certain date, one year before the day you sign and submit. Minimum. If you cannot document that start date, and well, high likelihood it will run into problems. (And yes, relatively frequent stories here of those who applied and didn't quite meet the technical date test and/or didn't convincingly show a joint household and relationship equivalent to marriage).
To prove the first 2 months of our 12 months we'd have to get a letter with a notary from her mum stating that we were living together with her while we saved and looked for a house of our own, The next 10 months from May 2020 would be living in our house together. Proof being bills and accounts etc as listed above.

Common law IS marriage. That's what it means. It is a legal status. If you can resolve the serious legal and immigration issues that can come up from insufficient documentation of your common law marriage by entering into the legal status that is basically equivalent to common law marriage known as "marriage", then just do it.

If you wish to have a religious wedding later or fairytale ceremony with pumpkin carriages and whatnot a few years down the road when you feel you're 'ready' or just want to have a big party, no-one is stopping you.

But it makes no sense to claim common law status on the one hand and on the other say you're not ready for marriage. They're the same (or very similar) legal structure.
We live together, doesn't mean we have to get married. We definitely have no interest in pumpkins or fairytales, but would like to look into marriage in the future on our own terms. Thanks for your concerns though.

Seems like we either need to submit with the notary letter from her mum (and my visa extension approval sent to her address) in a couple of weeks time, or let the application expire and then submit at the end of May without the letter from her mum.
 
Oct 30, 2019
17
1
Unfortunately this is not the way it works. You need to have at least one year of continuous cohabitation at the time your application is received by IRCC. This is also the period of time IRCC will review carefully for evidence. They won't care about the period after the application was submitted. They will focus on the year before the application was submitted and this is where you need to make sure you have strong enough evidence to prove a full year of continuous cohabitation.
It seems like to prove the first 2 months of our 12 months we'd have to get a letter with a notary from her mum stating that we were living together with her while we saved and looked for a house of our own (and my visa extension approval sent to her address). The next 10 months from May 2020 would be living in our house together. Proof being bills and accounts etc as listed above.
 

scylla

VIP Member
Jun 8, 2010
71,713
11,312
Toronto
Category........
Visa Office......
Buffalo
Job Offer........
Pre-Assessed..
App. Filed.......
28-05-2010
AOR Received.
19-08-2010
File Transfer...
28-06-2010
Passport Req..
01-10-2010
VISA ISSUED...
05-10-2010
LANDED..........
05-10-2010
It seems like to prove the first 2 months of our 12 months we'd have to get a letter with a notary from her mum stating that we were living together with her while we saved and looked for a house of our own (and my visa extension approval sent to her address). The next 10 months from May 2020 would be living in our house together. Proof being bills and accounts etc as listed above.
Yes, you need the letter for the first two months. Is that all the evidence you have for the first two months? Or is there more you can provide?

Why do you need to apply within 24 hours?
 

armoured

VIP Member
Feb 1, 2015
4,246
2,264
Once you start your application on the website, it gives you 60 days to complete it. We have 24 days remaining to submit.
For an inland spousal application? I believe all inland spousal applications are paper-based and submitted by post/courier. But perhaps I've missed some changes. Are you sure what you're looking at is the inland spousal application? (Ah, sorry, now I see below that you're referring to the visa extension request - I admit I don't know what's needed for that.)

To prove the first 2 months of our 12 months we'd have to get a letter with a notary from her mum stating that we were living together with her while we saved and looked for a house of our own, The next 10 months from May 2020 would be living in our house together. Proof being bills and accounts etc as listed above.
Post-dated statements like this will be given less weight than original documents as of the original date for the purposes of establishing common law.

We live together, doesn't mean we have to get married. We definitely have no interest in pumpkins or fairytales, but would like to look into marriage in the future on our own terms. Thanks for your concerns though.
It's up to you, of course. But based on what you've put above, there is a risk your sponsorship application based on common law could get extra scrutiny, lengthy processing or even refused (with potential issues and/or need to re-apply); hopefully not, but it happens. Again, if you're common law, it is a form of legal marriage.

In contrast, if legally married, your relationship proofs would be quite strong and application should have no issues.
 
Oct 30, 2019
17
1
Yes, you need the letter for the first two months. Is that all the evidence you have for the first two months? Or is there more you can provide?

Why do you need to apply within 24 hours?
Once you start your application on the website, it gives you 60 days to complete it. We have 24 days remaining to submit.

For the two months living at her mum's I can't think of much else we could submit other than a notary letter from her mum stating we were living their together, my visa extension approval letter sent to me at that address, other than that... a few amazon orders with our names on them? partner has lots of mail sent to that address as she never updated her student loan payments address.
 
Oct 30, 2019
17
1
For an inland spousal application? I believe all inland spousal applications are paper-based and submitted by post/courier. But perhaps I've missed some changes. Are you sure what you're looking at is the inland spousal application? (Ah, sorry, now I see below that you're referring to the visa extension request - I admit I don't know what's needed for that.)
Yeah, definitely for inland common law sponsored application. When you login there is a column that is called: "Days left to submit" Currently 23 days for us. Yes, the application has to be mailed to them.

Post-dated statements like this will be given less weight than original documents as of the original date for the purposes of establishing common law.
It's the best we have to cover the first two months of the 12 months. We've actually been living together for around 16 months, but on a visitor visa it's very difficult to prove these things without relying on a letter from her mum, and ourselves detailing that we were living with her to save up with one income to buy a house for ourselves.

It's up to you, of course. But based on what you've put above, there is a risk your sponsorship application based on common law could get extra scrutiny, lengthy processing or even refused (with potential issues and/or need to re-apply); hopefully not, but it happens. Again, if you're common law, it is a form of legal marriage.

In contrast, if legally married, your relationship proofs would be quite strong and application should have no issues.
Yeah agreed. It seems like if we're rejected, we'd maybe be accepted with an application after the end of May, or to get married in Canada or Scotland and submit the application again. Hopefully the amount of things in our initial application will prove sufficient, or they've at least ask for a little more explanation before a flat rejection.

Thanks for the responses and advice.
 
Oct 30, 2019
17
1
Once you start your application on the website, it gives you 60 days to complete it. We have 24 days remaining to submit.
Not sure if I can just delete the application, and then immediately open a new one. Remove a bit of my time crunch?

If I click on 'continue application' it gives me a checklist of things I need to do, pdfs to complete, and the address I've to send the paperwork to.
 

armoured

VIP Member
Feb 1, 2015
4,246
2,264
Yeah, definitely for inland common law sponsored application. When you login there is a column that is called: "Days left to submit" Currently 23 days for us. Yes, the application has to be mailed to them.
Apologies, don't know anything about this part of process.

Yeah agreed. It seems like if we're rejected, we'd maybe be accepted with an application after the end of May, or to get married in Canada or Scotland and submit the application again. Hopefully the amount of things in our initial application will prove sufficient, or they've at least ask for a little more explanation before a flat rejection.
Good luck. I'm not sure what your expectations are (perhaps I'm confused with the process above that you're referring to), but for an inland spousal sponsorship it will likely be many months before you know or understand whether what you've submitted has been accepted and the PR application approved.

If I understood your point properly (and not sure I have), yes, an application submitted after May would have a better chance (likely much better, if you are well documented on the home ownership-related paperwork).
 

scylla

VIP Member
Jun 8, 2010
71,713
11,312
Toronto
Category........
Visa Office......
Buffalo
Job Offer........
Pre-Assessed..
App. Filed.......
28-05-2010
AOR Received.
19-08-2010
File Transfer...
28-06-2010
Passport Req..
01-10-2010
VISA ISSUED...
05-10-2010
LANDED..........
05-10-2010
Once you start your application on the website, it gives you 60 days to complete it. We have 24 days remaining to submit.

For the two months living at her mum's I can't think of much else we could submit other than a notary letter from her mum stating we were living their together, my visa extension approval letter sent to me at that address, other than that... a few amazon orders with our names on them? partner has lots of mail sent to that address as she never updated her student loan payments address.
That doesn't make sense. All spousal / common law sponsorship applications are paper-based. There is no online option.
 
  • Like
Reactions: YVR123 and armoured

YVR123

Champion Member
Jul 27, 2017
2,466
819
Not sure if I can just delete the application, and then immediately open a new one. Remove a bit of my time crunch?

If I click on 'continue application' it gives me a checklist of things I need to do, pdfs to complete, and the address I've to send the paperwork to.
There is no online option to submit any family sponsorship or spousal sponsor application. I am very confused.
 
  • Like
Reactions: scylla