Prepared by Nanda Krishna Kishore; Edited by Ninan Lawrence on September 15, 2023


Did you know that if you are studying or working in Canada, you could take your spouse as well as dependent children with you to Canada without requiring to meet any special requirements? Well, not only that, in such cases, your spouse can apply for an Open Work Permit, using which s(he) can secure a job anywhere in Canada.

A spouse is somebody with whom you have entered marriage or in a common-law relationship. A dependent is someone who is related to you (or your spouse) by blood or adoption, and below 22 years of age.



Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) considers family reunification a cornerstone of Canadian immigration. When applying to bring a spouse or partner to Canada through family class sponsorship, IRCC needs to be convinced about the authenticity of the relationship. This scrutiny is important because, a foreign national might try to engage in a fraudulent relationship with a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, aiming to obtain Canadian permanent residency. Meanwhile, the sponsoring party genuinely believes in the validity of their marriage or partnership. Such situations can be emotionally and financially challenging for the sponsor, as they are obliged to financially support their partner for three years after they attain permanent resident status, irrespective of the relationship’s stability.



Canadian citizens or permanent residents might also endeavor to establish a transactional agreement and assume a relationship with a foreign national in return for compensation. To establish the legitimacy of a genuine relationship, numerous documents need to be enclosed within an application for sponsoring a spouse or partner. If an immigration officer requires further substantiation of the relationship’s authenticity, they can request the couple to attend an in-person interview at an IRCC facility. These interviews might involve separate conversations with both the sponsor and the applicant. If an officer remains unconvinced about the presence of a bona fide relationship, the foreign national will not meet the criteria for sponsorship eligibility.


Demonstrating authenticity of a relationship: How to provide evidence?

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) requires documentation from all couples, including those of the same sex, as evidence to verify the authenticity of their relationship. The specific types of documentation required can differ based on whether the couple is legally married or in a common-law partnership within Canada.

Married Couples need to submit various official documents, such as:


  1. A complete Relationship Information and Sponsorship Evaluation questionnaire (IMM 5532). Usually, included in the application package.
  2. Evidence of marriage registration with a government authority at the local, provincial, state, or country level.
  3. Documentation showing divorce records if either the applicant or spouse was previously married.
  4. If the principal applicant and sponsor share children, long-form birth certificates, or adoption records that include both parents’ names.
  5. Wedding photographs, invitations, etc.



If the marriage of same-sex couples is not acknowledged as legally valid in the foreign national’s country [i.e., county of origin or citizenship], they are required to seek an application under the category of a common-law relationship. Alternatively, in situations where the couple cannot reside together due to challenges in obtaining extended-stay visas, they have the option to apply as conjugal partners. These are very important points to note and where applicants usually make mistakes.


Common-law relationships:

In Canada, a common-law relationship is characterized by an unmarried couple cohabitating in a conjugal partnership for a minimum of one year. Much like married couples (except for wedding photos and invitations), they need to present:


  1. Official proof of financial support or shared expenses between the principal applicant and sponsor.


  1. Additional evidence showcasing the relationship’s recognition among friends or family, which could involve letters from acquaintances or family members, as well as social and medical information indicating a public connection. Moreover, for both married and common-law relationships, sponsors and principal applicants must provide documents from at least two of the below:
    1. Rental agreement displaying both the sponsor and principal applicant as occupants of a rental dwelling,
    2. Confirmation of joint utility accounts (like electricity, gas, telephone, internet), shared credit card or bank accounts,
    3. Vehicle insurance demonstrating both the principal applicant as well as the sponsored person as residents at the insured address,
    4. Copies of official government documents for both the principal applicant and sponsor, indicating the same address (e.g., driver’s licenses).


Other documents issued to both the principal applicant and sponsor, reflecting the same address, regardless of joint or individual ownership (e.g., cell phone bills, payslips, tax forms, bank or credit card statements, insurance policies) can be used. If couples cannot provide a minimum of two documents, they must provide a comprehensive written explanation.



Contact us if to know if you qualify to migrate to Canada. Check out Owlspriority Immigration’s Canada Settlement Resources to learn about finding employment in Canada, making your initial days stress-free, etc.

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