Conjugal Relationships and Partners


I get a lot of email asking about the conjugal partner category. As you may know, this category is for couples (either heterosexual or homosexual) who are not married but who are committed to a life together. Proving a conjugal relationship can be difficult. A rule of thumb is that the relationship has to “look” like a marriage — shared property, shared accommodation (usually, but not always), shared money, shared travels. In essence — a shared life together.

Here’s a summary of the Malvina case at the Immigration Appeal Division (2006). Their application was denied at first because the Visa officer (wrongly) asserted that they if a couple can marry then they should marry. This is not the law (and it shows how important it is to have legal counsel as an applicant!). The case was won on appeal. It gives a good sense of what is expected for a successful conjugal application:

The sponsored application for permanent residence of the appellant’s conjugal partner was refused on the basis that the applicant did not fall within the definition of conjugal partner. The visa officer noted that there was no obstacle to the couple’s marriage, and stated that if couples can marry or cohabit, they are expected to do so before the immigration process takes place.

The appellant and the applicant were both in their 60s. Their relationship became serious in May 2001. They had lived together, sharing household chores, at least three times a year for three to four weeks each time. Their friends and neighbours regarded them as a couple. The application for permanent residence was submitted in March 2004.

It is not the case that if couples can marry or cohabit, they should do so before the immigration process takes place. Couples should have the right to choose the type of relationship that suits them best and the right time to marry, if they wish to do so. This was not a young couple about to start out in life together. They had built up a lifetime of assets and had independent incomes. The relationship was exclusive and monogamous and was more than a precursor to a future conjugal relationship. They had a plan to buy a house together and marry once the applicant settled in Canada. They were in a conjugal relationship for at least one year prior to the application.

About the author

Gianpaolo Panusa Gianpaolo Panusa is a Canadian immigration lawyer, writer, and founder of the PanCanadian Immigration Law Group based in Vancouver, Canada. Google+ Profile