If you are not married but wish to immigrate with your partner, there are only two categories that might apply: common-law (which will be discussed in future) or conjugal partner.
What is a conjugal partner? The regulations aren’t helpful, as they define “conjugal partner” to mean “in relation to a sponsor, a foreign national residing outside Canada who is in a conjugal relationship with the sponsor and has been in that relationship for a period of at least one year.”
Essentially, a conjugal relationship is “marriage-like”, meaning that there must be a serious commitment to spend your life together in a monogamous relationship.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada look for the following elements to determine if a conjugal relationship exists:
- mutual commitment to a shared life;
- exclusive – cannot be in more than one conjugal relationship at a time;
- intimate – commitment to sexual exclusivity;
- interdependent – physically, emotionally, financially, socially;
- permanent – long-term, genuine and continuing relationship;
- present themselves as a couple;
regarded by others as a couple;
- caring for children (if there are children).
If you are dating and thinking about marriage, or living together to try things out, you are not likely in a conjugal relationship. Conjugal relationships are built over time and supported by evidence of a shared life together, such as joint ownership of possessions, naming each other as beneficiaries under insurance policies, financial support of one another and so forth.