Conjugal Partner Sponsorship - Process, Requirements, and Application Guide
Conjugal partner sponsorship: A conjugal partnership is a relationship between two individuals who are in a marriage-like relationship but are not married and are unable to live together due to unavoidable circumstances. Before submitting an application for conjugal partner sponsorship, the couple must have been together for at least a year.
This category is for those who do not meet the requirements for the spouse sponsorship category or the common-law partnership category. A conjugal partner is someone with whom you have a sexual or physical partnership, but the sexual or physical relationship is not the only criterion for defining a conjugal relationship; several other factors can also play a significant role.
This category is only applicable if you and your partner have been unable to live together due to circumstances beyond your control. You will not be considered for a conjugal partnership if you and your partner could have qualified as a common-law partners, as the IRCC has deemed conjugal partnerships to be an exceptional category applicable only in special circumstances.
Processing time: 12 - 27 months
Minimum income required - Not Applicable
Minimum age of sponsor: 18 years
Sponsor must be Canadian citizen of Permanent Resident
Definition of Conjugal relationship for Canadian immigration purpose.
Conjugal partner sponsorship is a special category of the family class that allows individuals to sponsor a partner with whom they have been in an established relationship, but cannot live together due to certain circumstances beyond their control. The relationship must be at least one year in duration and must meet other criteria such as a sexual or physical connection, mutual commitment to a shared life, financial interdependence, and social recognition. In order to qualify for conjugal partner sponsorship, the couple must demonstrate that living together is not an option due to factors outside of their control, such as immigration status, religious beliefs, or sexual orientation.
Who is a conjugal partner for Canadian immigration purposes?
Your conjugal partner:
isn’t legally married to you
can be either sex
is 18 or older
has been in a monogamous and committed relationship with you for at least 12 consecutive months.
Note: If at least one partner chooses to end the relationship, IRCC will consider the partnership to be over in terms of a sponsorship application.
Is a girlfriend or a boyfriend considered a conjugal partner?
Yes, a girlfriend or a boyfriend can be considered a conjugal partner. Couples of the opposite sex and same sex who are unable to live together due to circumstances beyond their control may be eligible to apply for a conjugal partner sponsorship application. To be considered as a conjugal partner, the couple must demonstrate that they cannot live together due to certain restrictions or fears such as a threat to their life due to cultural or social restrictions, fear of persecution, or penalty by authorities or community. The couple must also demonstrate that if they were to start living together, it would cause them to harm in some way.
What is the difference between Spouse, Common-Law Partner, and Conjugal Partner?
Spouses are legally married couples who have gone through a marriage ceremony and can be both opposite-sex and same-sex couples. If the marriage took place outside of Canada, the marriage is considered legal by the IRCC only if it is considered legal in the country where the marriage has occurred. Spouses can be both opposite-sex and same-sex couples.
Common-law partners are two people who live together to form a marriage-like relationship without being married. To qualify as a common-law partner, the couple must have lived together continuously for at least one year.
Lastly, conjugal partners are people who have been in a committed relationship for at least one year and who rely on each other for financial, social, physical, and emotional needs, but are not able to live together due to circumstances beyond their control. In order to qualify as a conjugal partner, applicants must meet certain requirements specified by the IRCC including demonstrating that they have been in a committed relationship for at least one year and meeting financial and conjugal partner sponsorship requirements.
When you sponsor a spouse, common-law or a conjugal partner, you must specify the “Class of Application” on the checklist you’ll submit. Conjugal partner applications are usually submitted under the Family Class sponsorship and not the Spousal Sponsorship Class.
Which class of application to choose between Family Class and Spouse or Common-Law Partner in Canada class when submitting a sponsorship application?
Apply under the Family Class if:
the person you want to sponsor does not live in Canada. Check Outland Spousal Sponsorship
the person you want to sponsor is your conjugal partner
the person you want to sponsor currently lives with you in Canada but doesn’t plan to stay in Canada while the application is being processed
you plan to appeal if the application is refused
you’re sponsoring your conjugal partner or dependent child
Apply under the Spouse or Common-Law Partner in Canada Class if your spouse or common-law partner:
is currently living with you in Canada and plans to stay in Canada while the application is being processed. Check Inland Spousal Sponsorship
has valid temporary resident status in Canada, or is exempt from needing this status under a public policy
would like to apply for, and qualifies for, an Open Work Permit so that they can work while the application is being processed
How does IRCC Assess Conjugal Relationships?
When evaluating a request for conjugal partner sponsorship, the IRCC considers a number of criteria to determine whether a couple's relationship is genuine. The primary criteria are mutual commitment to share in each other's lives, exclusivity (neither partner should be in another conjugal relationship at the same time), intimacy (partners must be committed to being sexually exclusive with each other), emotional, financial, and social support, a permanent and long-term relationship, and the two individuals being viewed by others as a couple and presenting each other as their permanent partner. In addition, they consider whether the two partners have children or are caring for them jointly. In sum, these elements constitute the requirements for conjugal partner sponsorship that must be met for a successful application.
How to prove a conjugal relationship for Canadian immigration application?
A foreign national intending to immigrate as the conjugal partner of a sponsor must provide evidence that:
they have maintained a conjugal relationship with their sponsor for at least one year
they are in a committed and mutually interdependent relationship of some permanence and have combined their affairs to the extent possible
In the immigration context (in Siev, Samuth v. M.C.I. (F.C., no. IMM-2472-04), Rouleau, May 24, 2005; 2005 FC 736, the court stated that “it is clear that a conjugal relationship is one of some permanence, where individuals are interdependent – financially, socially, emotionally, and physically – where they share household and related responsibilities, and where they have made a serious commitment to one another.
 In M. v H. the Supreme Court of Canada adopts the seven characteristics of a conjugal relationship as set out in Molodowich.; while learning from and referring to Macapagal v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), 2004 CanLII 56716 (CA IRB) and Haer v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), 2020 FC 530 (CanLII). They include:
shared shelter (e.g., sleeping arrangements)
sexual and personal behavior (e.g., fidelity, commitment, feelings towards each other)
services (e.g., conduct and habit with respect to the sharing of household chores)
social activities (e.g., their attitude and conduct as a couple in the community and with their families)
economic support (e.g., financial arrangements, ownership of property)
children (e.g., attitude and conduct concerning children)
societal perception of the two as a couple
In a conjugal partner relationship or a common-law relationship, a commitment is not always made at a certain time, and there is no one legal document that proves the commitment. Instead, it is the passing of one year of living together, the development of intimacy and emotional ties, and the accumulation of other types of evidence, such as naming each other as beneficiaries on insurance policies or estates, joint ownership of possessions, joint decision-making with consequences for one partner that affect the other, and financial support of one another (joint expenses or sharing of income, etc.).
When you put these facts together, they show that in a monogamous relationship that lasts for a while, like a marriage, there is a lot of commitment and mutual dependence.
Both partners must be able to demonstrate that they are unable to cohabit due to compelling barriers. This is regardless of their intention to marry, but it demonstrates a legitimate desire to remain together.
What does inability to cohabit due to persecution or any form of penal control mean?
Persecution refers to the government's legal capacity to penalize homosexual, gay, and lesbian partnerships and prevent such individuals from obtaining work, shelter, and respect for their rights. Persecution also results in social exclusion. As it is against the law for these people to cohabit, criminal penalties restrict them from doing so.
Can I sponsor my partner as a conjugal partner if we are currently living inside Canada for less than 12 months?
No. If you and your partner are currently cohabiting in Canada, you do not qualify as conjugal partners. You need to wait till 1 year of cohabitation is complete and then apply as common-law partner under the spousal sponsorship class.
Can a conjugal relationship be considered as a common-law relationship in immigration context?
Section 1(2) of the IRPR states:
For the purposes of the Act and these Regulations, an individual who has been in a conjugal relationship with a person for at least one year but is unable to cohabit with the person, due to persecution or any form of penal control, shall be considered a common-law partner of the person.
This provision sets out the circumstances under which an individual in a conjugal relationship with another person for at least one year will be considered a common-law partner of that person even though the requirement of cohabitation in the definition of “common-law partner” has not been met.
According to s. 1(2) of the IRP Regulations, a partner is excused from fulfilling the cohabitation requirement where he or she is unable to cohabit with the other due to persecution or any form of penal control.
Can I sponsor my conjugal partner if either of us are legally married to another person?
People who are married to other people can be considered conjugal partners if their marriage has ended and they have lived apart from their spouse for at least a year, during which they have not had an intimate relationship with their former spouse. l
When the sponsor is legally married to someone else, assessing officers must be convinced of a genuine separation. The same restriction applies to the applicant, when applicable. In light of insufficient proof, an officer may request additional evidence, such as:
a signed formal declaration that the marriage has ended and that the person has entered into a common-law relationship
a separation agreement
a court order in respect of custody of children substantiating the marriage breakdown, or
documents removing the legally married spouse(s) from insurance policies or wills as beneficiaries (a “change of beneficiary” form)
Prohibited Partnerships when applying for spousal sponsorship
You can't be a common-law partner or a conjugal partner with more than one person at the same time. By definition, the word "conjugal" means that two people are only together and have a strong commitment to each other. It can't happen with more than two people at the same time.
Polygamous-like relationships cannot be considered conjugal and do not qualify as common-law or conjugal partner relationships.
Because common-law relationships are defined as conjugal relationships, they are subject to the same legal restrictions as marriages, such as prohibited degrees of consanguinity. The list of relationships in the Marriage (Prohibited Degrees) Act that fall within the prohibited degrees also applies to common-law partners.
The following persons are not recognized as common-law partners specifically for matters of Canadian immigration:
persons in an incestuous relationship
one or both partners under the minimum age of consent (less than 18 years* old)
Criminal Inadmissibility - one of the partners detained or incarcerated for what would be offences in Canada under the Criminal Code
*Partners may begin to live together before age 18, but their relationship is not legally recognized as common-law until both partners have been cohabiting for one year since both were at least 18 years of age.
On what grounds can my sponsorship application to Canada be refused?
Always remember that the burden of proof lies with the applicant. The immigration department of Canada will make a decision on proof that they find genuine and authentic. If for any reasons, an assessing officer doubts that your relationship has been purposely entered into for Canadian permanent residence, your application will be denied.
Here are some of the main reasons why your application could be refused:
You did not provide enough proof of relationship to prove it is legitimate;
There were errors in the Canadian sponsorship application forms;
There was a misrepresentation of facts presented in your application;
You are unable to meet basic requirements for spousal sponsorship;
You or your partner are inadmissible due to a conviction or pose a risk to Canadian society.
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