Same Sex and Common Law Partners
Canadian immigration benefits are not limited to same-sex marriages or traditional relationships. Canada extends immigration benefits to all of the following:
- Same-sex spouses who have legally married in Canada or any other jurisdiction that recognizes same sex marriage
- Same sex and opposite sex partners in common law relationships who have been living together for at least one year
- Same sex and opposite sex partners who have been in a committed, conjugal relationship for at least one year, but have been unable to live together due to legal restrictions.
In the case of unmarried persons claiming to be common law partners or conjugal partners, convincing proof of the relationship must be provided, such as jointly held property, joint leases, and naming each other as beneficiaries for insurance and retirement plans. For that matter, even legally married persons must submit proof that the marriage is genuine and not entered into simply for immigration purposes.
Generally, Canada extends most if not all legal rights to such partners as well, including pension, inheritance, and tax benefits. In 2000, Canada amended 68 different laws to extend equal rights to same-sex couples. On July 20, 2005, Canada amended its marriage law to recognize same-sex marriages everywhere in Canada. There is no residency requirement for marriage in Canada, so same-sex partners from the U.S.A. and elsewhere can marry in Canada. Each province has its own procedures for issuing marriage licenses.
There are many ways that married and unmarried couples can benefit from Canada’s immigration laws:
- Partners can accompany a foreign student or foreign worker to Canada for the duration of the student or worker’s stay
- Such partners can usually obtain open work permits for the duration of the stay.
- Canadian citizens and permanent residents can sponsor their partner to become a permanent resident of Canada, and cannot be refused due to medical problems
- Partners living in Canada with a Canadian citizen or permanent resident can become Canadian permanent residents without leaving Canada
- Skilled workers and others immigrating to Canada as permanent residents may obtain immigrant visas for their partners as well