How do you prove you are common law for a common-law sponsorship application?
Common-law relationships are different than marriages because often you cannot point to one specific day when you joined your lives together. It usually happens gradually that you are spending more and more time in one house together and then one day you decide that it makes no sense to keep paying for two separate places. Eventually, over time, you may decide to get a joint bank account or start listing both names on utilities or insurance – but again, this usually happens incrementally and doesn’t suddenly change in one day like it does when you get married.
Proving a common-law relationship in an immigration application can be challenging for that reason. As your relationship was developing, you likely weren’t thinking about immigration requirements and you may not have created the intentional paper trail that you now understand you need in order to sponsor your partner.
Canada immigration recognizes common-law partners that have lived together for at least 12 months continuously, and who have combined their lives in a way that resembles a marriage-like relationship. But you have to be able to prove your relationship in 4 main areas – you share an address, you share financial responsibility for your lives, you have a public relationship and you are emotionally dependent on each other.
What proof do you need for common law?
The good news is that if you have actually lived together, you will have some kind of a paper trail, whether you have done all of the common address changes or not. It’s virtually impossible to function in society today without using your address in some form or another. You might just have to get more creative than the IRCC common-law partner sponsorship document checklist.
You also need to keep in mind that there are two tests for this factor. Do you have the same address and have you had the same address for more than 1 year? In any kind of documentation you provide regarding your address, ensure that you are providing a timeframe that shows at least 12 consecutive months.
Obviously, a lease agreement with both names is an ideal document to demonstrate a shared address; however, if you don’t have a lease, you can also get a letter from your landlord, your roommates, or your neighbours. Somebody, somewhere knows where you live.
Other creative proof of address might include tax documents, invoices for online purchases, prescription records or concert tickets. Over the years, our office has compiled an enormous list of the different types of documents one could collect to demonstrate proof of address. If you are having difficulty getting your own proof together, you might want to set up a meeting with us and we can help you brainstorm.
Shared financial responsibility
Even if you haven’t set up a joint bank account, there are ways to demonstrate that you share financial responsibility for your lives. Ask yourself, “How do we pay for our lives”? Maybe you etransfer funds back and forth – there’s a record of that. Or perhaps you each pay for different parts – one pays rent and one pays groceries. Provide an explanation with your application and include receipts to prove it. If you do have a joint account, make sure that you are using it!
It’s important that you demonstrate a public relationship in the photos that you choose to submit with your application, with letters from friends and family, and with print outs from your social media accounts. Don’t just submit a bunch of photos of the two of you. It’s very important to include pics that show you together with other people – like family occasions, holidays or work gatherings. Likewise, for your social media printouts – ensure that you include the comments in response to the post that you made.
Emotional dependence on one another may be demonstrated through your photos or social media – are you together at important events in each other’s lives? If you’re not into photographing every single life event, consider writing a brief history of your relationship that includes a description of the way that you support each other emotionally – how do your personalities work together?
The Way Immigration has more than a decade of experience in handling common-law partner sponsorship applications successfully. Contact our office for an appointment to ensure that your common-law partner sponsorship application will be successful, the first time.