Most sponsorship applications are submitted as spousal sponsorships (when the couple is married) or common-law sponsorships (when the couple has lived together for at least 1 year). But what happens when the couple cannot get married or live together? Can the partner still be sponsored?
The answer is YES – if a couple is not able to get married or live together due to circumstances beyond their control, then they may be eligible to apply for conjugal sponsorship. If the conjugal sponsorship application is approved, then the applicant will become a PR just as they would through a spousal or common-law sponsorship.
Some of the reasons that would allow a couple to submit a conjugal sponsorship application include:
- armed conflict in the applicant’s country of residence
- it is unsafe or impossible for the sponsor to travel to the applicant’s country of residence
- it is illegal for the two parties in the couple to get married – this could happen for reasons such as different religions, different races, homosexual relationship
- it is against the religion of the sponsor or the applicant to live together before marriage
Conjugal sponsorship applications are rare because usually the couple can either live together or get married. However, with the coup and Taliban takeover of the government in Afghanistan, I expect that conjugal sponsorship applications from Afghanistan will become more frequent.
Conjugal Sponsorship Application Requirements
Even though they are not married, the couple in the conjugal relationship must be able to show that they meet the requirements for the application:
- They have been in a relationship for at least 1 year and have maintained contact over this time
- They are in a serious and exclusive relationship with one-another – neither the sponsor nor the applicant is allowed to be romantically involved in an ongoing relationship with another person
- The couple is not required to have met in person yet
- The couple is not required to have engaged in a physical or sexual relationship either before or after meeting
If the relationship has not yet reached 1 year long, then it may be possible to overcome this requirement on humanitarian and compassionate grounds and still file the sponsorship application.
Both the sponsor and the applicant must be at least 18 years old to file a conjugal sponsorship application.
Even if the sponsor or the applicant is still married to or living at the same address as a former partner, they can still be included as part of a conjugal relationship for sponsorship even if the divorce has not been finalized or the former partner has not yet moved out.
Dependent children up to age 21 can also be included on a conjugal sponsorship application, as well as dependent children who are older than 21 and who are unable to care for themselves due to a disability stemming from before they turned 21 years old.
Conjugal Sponsorship Process From Afghanistan
For two people to be considered in a conjugal relationship and eligible for sponsorship, they will have to be able to show evidence that the relationship is genuine and meets the requirements for conjugal sponsorship. The relationship is expected to be permanent and exclusive, and the couple is expected to have a level of interdependence on one-another.
Applicants from Afghanistan will have to have translations done which meet the requirements for IRCC as all documents which are not in English or French are required to be translated, including relationship evidence.
Whether a couple meets the requirements to be considered “conjugal partners” and thus eligible for sponsorship, is at the discretion of the IRCC officer deciding the case.
If you are in a conjugal relationship and want to sponsor your partner from Afghanistan or any other country, contact us.