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A Family Lawyer Explains Common-Law Partner, Conjugal Partner, and Spouse

Canadian spousal sponsorship is one of the most sought-after immigration pathways for foreigners seeking to move to the country. In 2022, the Canadian government granted spousal sponsorship-based immigration to 64,000 individuals as they reunited with their spouses, conjugal, and common-law partners.

If you’re looking to sponsor your partner to Canada, then hiring an immigration lawyer to discuss your case is a wise call. However, before talking to a top immigration law expert, familiarize yourself with the Canadian spousal immigration policy.

Canadian Spousal Immigration Policy

Canadian immigration has numerous streams for immigration aspirants. However, spousal sponsorship is the right path for those with spouses, common-law partners, and conjugal partners already holding a Permanent Residence (PR) in Canada. A Canadian PR holder can sponsor their family members such as spouses and dependent children through the Canadian spousal sponsorship route.

The Difference Between Spouse, Conjugal, and Common-Law Partner

Understanding the difference between the three relationships is important for those looking to sponsor their spouses or partners to whom they are not legally married.


As per Canadian laws, a spouse is someone from a different or same-sex you have been legally married to. Spouses may or may not have children, joint properties, or bank accounts. However, submitting proof of marriage with your spousal sponsorship application is essential.

Conjugal Partner

A conjugal partner is someone with whom you have been in a conjugal and intimate relationship for over a year. However, conjugal partners are those with whom you have not lived due to reasons beyond your control. The Canadian immigration authorities will look for your relationship’s history, genuineness, and commitment.

Common-Law Partner

A common-law partner is a conjugal partner with whom you have lived for over a year but haven’t married yet. Joint bank accounts, real estate lease or purchase agreements, and proof of your living arrangement as well as relationship are required for this type of spousal immigration. In some cases, a fiancé may be required to wait to get married before applying for sponsorship.

For example, if you’re a common-law partner in a country where you can get married without any problems, you’ll be asked to marry first and then apply for spousal immigration.

Process of Spousal Sponsorship

Immigration lawyers in Toronto deal with numerous spousal sponsorships on a daily basis. However, there are no differences in the way a spousal, common-law partner’s, or conjugal partner’s immigration application is reviewed and processed.


The Canadian government does not favor a spouse over conjugal partners or common-law partners. However, for spouses submitting a marriage certificate and photographs of the ceremony suffice to prove the authenticity of the marriage in most cases.

Conjugal Partner

Since conjugal partners do not live together, they are required to provide evidence of their relationship’s authenticity. Spousal sponsorship lawyers suggest submitting travel history, photographs of parties you have attended together, messages and call logs, and gift receipts alongside your application.

In addition, conjugal partners also have to explain their reason for not living together such as a same-sex relationship in a country where there’s unacceptance.

Common-Law Partner

Because common-law partners are living together for the past year before applying for spousal sponsorship, the most important document, in this case, is the rental or purchase agreement in both partner’s names. In addition, like a conjugal partner, common-law partners are required to provide proof of their relationship and show long-term commitment.

The Burden of Proof for Conjugal and Common-Law Partners

While Canadian immigration officers do not favor one type of spousal relationship over another, frauds with conjugal and common-law immigration appeals are common. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to provide ample evidence and showcase your relationship’s long-withstanding history before applying for spousal sponsorship.

For example, conjugal partners who could have lived together or gotten married but chose not to will not be considered valid cases.

Conditional Permanent Resident Period

Earlier, people moving to Canada on spousal sponsorship were required to live with their principal applicant for 24 months at least before partying ways. This was done to prevent marriage fraud. However, in 2017, the Canadian government removed this condition to protect sponsored partners from the potential threat of domestic violence by their sponsors. Now, you can immediately reach out to a family lawyer if you face violence from your partner after moving to Canada.

Apply for Spousal Sponsorship in Canada

In case you’re interested in coming to Canada via spousal sponsorship, then reach out to Nanda and Associate Lawyers. The law firm has experienced Canadian immigration lawyers, refugee lawyers, family and divorce lawyers, as well as corporate lawyers. Book a consultation to discuss your case today.

Author Bio

The author is a family lawyer based in Toronto, Ontario. The author has worked closely with immigration lawyers providing family immigration and reunification services in Canada. Currently, the author teaches at a prestigious law university in Ontario.


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