Canada affords common-law partnerships many of the same rights that are afforded to married couples. For immigration purposes, a common-law partnership is recognized when two committed partners have lived together for at least 12 months consecutively, and have combined their affairs in much the same way that you would expect from a married couple. Our office reviews a lot of self-prepared applications for common-law sponsorship to Canada, and we consistently see people making the same mistakes. I want to share with you some tips to help you avoid the most common errors.
5 Tips for a Successful Common-law Sponsorship Application
1. Ensure that you actually qualify as common-law.
You must be able to prove at least 12 months of continuous co-habitation with your partner. Include dated documents with your application that show you have had the same address historically, and for a period of at least one year. Keep in mind that travelling together or living together in a different country also counts – even if that country doesn’t recognize common-law status.
2. Sign and Date your forms AFTER you have met the 1-year cohabitation requirement.
You must already qualify as common law on the date you sign your forms. If you are preparing your application in advance, don’t actually sign and date the forms until after you meet the eligibility criteria. If you sign too soon, your application will be refused.
3. Include a Stat Dec of Common Law.
The Statutory Declaration of Common Law form, IMM 5409, is not requested on the document checklist for a common-law partner sponsorship to Canada, but I recommend that you include it with your application. Both partners will need to attend an appointment with a Notary Public or a Commissioner for Oaths in order to swear the declaration. Note that this form requires you to state when you started living together for a continuous period of time. If you have had periods of time when you lived apart, don’t swear that you have lived together continuously from the start of your relationship – specify only the periods when you were actually living under the same roof. When completing the form, don’t put an end date for your relationship, rather, use TO PRESENT if you are still living together.
4. Double check the address history you have listed for both sponsor and principal applicant.
One of the application forms (IMM 5532) asks for the sponsor’s address history for the past 5 years, and another form (IMM 5669) requires the sponsored partner to list their 10-year address history. Ensure that your addresses, as listed on these forms, properly reflect that you have lived at the same address together for the required period of time.
5. Include an open work permit application.
If you are applying for an inland sponsorship and you want to start or continue to work in Canada, you must include an application for an open work permit with the sponsorship package. Just applying for the sponsorship itself won’t allow you to stay or work in Canada. You must include this second application, and associated fees, as well.
What happens if I make a mistake on my common-law partner sponsorship application?
The best option is always to submit a perfected application for processing to IRCC. This can be difficult, if not impossible if you are working with this type of application for the first time. Depending on what type of mistake is involved, the outcome could be that IRCC returns or refuses your common-law sponsorship application. A returned file often means that your partner will lose the right to work in Canada while waiting for their Permanent Resident status. Having your common-law partner sponsorship refused means that you will need to start the process over again, and you have lost all of the fees paid for your initial application, or you will need to spend several thousand dollars to appeal the decision. In some cases, it can be much more difficult to gain approval in the future if your file has already been refused the first time. Any of these scenarios means that you lose thousands of dollars and years of time. It’s not worth it to take a chance by submitting an application if you don’t know for certain that it’s perfect.
The Way Immigration has been involved with hundreds, if not thousands, of successful common-law partner sponsorship applications. Contact our office today, to ensure that your application is done properly the first time, for the best and fastest outcome possible.