The best way for applicants in a common-law relationship to prove their relationship to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada is to submit the Statutory Declaration of Common-Law Union along with supporting documents.
The form number on the IRCC website is called the IMM 5409. It’s always important to use the most recent version of any immigration form when submitting your application. There is a date located in the bottom left corner of every form.
Who Needs to Fill out the IMM 5409 Form?
The IMM 5409 must be submitted when required on the Document Checklist for your application. But even when not specifically required, it is a good idea to submit this form whenever your common-law relationship impacts the application in any way, especially where you are seeking an immigration benefit based on your relationship (or may wish to in the future). For example, you should include the form when sponsoring a common-law partner for permanent residence or when you wish to include your partner on an Express Entry or PNP application.
Temporary residents can also use the IMM 5409. All benefits available to married spouses, such as the open work permit for spouses of skilled workers, are equally available to common-law partners if they can prove their relationship. For example, an IMM 5409 is advisable for international students wishing to have a common-law partner accompany them, or for visitors seeking to extend their visit to spend more time with a common-law partner.
For immigration purposes, three criteria must be met to create a common-law union:
- you have lived together as a couple for at least 12 months continuously (inside or outside Canada)
- you have joined your personal affairs, and
- you intend to remain together permanently.
Once the minimum one year of cohabitation is met, you will be considered a common-law couple even if you separate temporarily after that, for example, for work purposes.
Who Needs to Sign a Statutory Declaration of Common Law Union?
Unlike other immigration forms, the IMM 5409 is a solemn declaration where both parties declare the truth of its contents. This must be done in front of a qualified public official. In Canada this can be a Notary Public, a Commissioner of Oaths, or a Commissioner of Taking Affidavits. Outside Canada, it can be a Notary Public or the equivalent.
Unlike marriage, there is no formal certificate to prove a common-law union. Thus, the extra formality of the Statutory Declaration of Common-Law Union lends more weight to your statements, as it is a criminal offence to make a false declaration in a Statutory Declaration.
Instructions for Filling out the IMM 5409
- First, ensure you meet the common-law criteria as above.
- Fill out the form, but do not sign or date it until you are in front of the public official. It can either be typed or completed by hand in black ink.
- Use your full legal names, exactly as shown on your passport.
- The IMM 5409 requires the number of the continuous years you cohabited as a couple, with the start and end dates. The start date is when you moved in together – not when you started dating. If you are still living together at the time you are signing the declaration, the end date can be “to present” or the date you will sign the form. If you have more than one period of cohabitation, put the most recent period when you lived together for more than 12 months in duration.
- The questions in Boxes 1 and 2 require yes or no answers; do not leave any blank.
- Attend together before the public official for signing. Note that Commissioner for Oaths are usually available at City Hall or at a Registry Office in Canada (where you go to get a driver’s license).
How to Sign the Stat Dec of Common Law If My Partner is in a Different Place?
It’s still possible to be considered common law even if you are not living together with your partner at the time you will be signing the Stat Dec, as long as you have lived together for at last 12 months in the past and your relationship continues. We recommend that you complete one form that you will both sign separately. In Box 5, each partner is a “Declarant”; the second line need not be filled in. Each partner then should take a copy to a qualified official for signing, and you can submit both signed pages with your application.
Proof of Relationships Document
Because living together is the essence of a common-law relationship, Canada Immigration requires documents to prove the idea that you have lived at the same address. Each situation is different, so no specific document is required – standard proof might be a lease, shared utility bills or a letter from a landlord showing you lived together during the relevant period. Additional corroboration might be found in mail sent to each of you, or employment, tax or banking records showing your addresses. This type of evidence from third parties is preferable to letters from friends and family.
Besides proof of cohabitation, other corroboration of the ongoing nature of your relationship is expected. Consider what evidence may help show you are a couple and committed for life – and not just roommates. In other words, what shows you love each other and have combined your affairs on a permanent basis? Examples might be joint assets or debts, a will that names your partner as beneficiary, or presenting yourselves as a couple on social media. The IMM 5409 provides some examples, such as life insurance and joint accounts; but it is important to realize that no one item or items is required. Reasonable documentation in your circumstances is expected.
Tips For When to Seek Professional Advice
Common-law couples may benefit from professional advice where:
- It is not clear whether the relationship qualifies as common-law, for example, you have lived together off and on, but never for 12 continuous months.
- You are not sure of the precise date when the common-law union started.
- You did not change your address when you moved in with your partner.
- You have lived together for 12 months but were apart for short periods.
- You declared on earlier immigration forms you were “single” when in fact you were common-law.
- Although you meet the definition of common-law status, you have almost none of the standard documents to corroborate that.
- You did not declare yourself as common-law to Canada Revenue Agency when filing taxes.
- You are not certain how to fill out the IMM 5409 properly.
Common-law unions can be straightforward in some cases but difficult to prove in others, depending on how the relationship evolved. It is extremely important to be accurate on the Statutory Declaration of Common-Law Union not only to avoid problems and delays but to ensure you obtain the immigration benefits available to you as a couple. The Way Immigration can help you be successful. Arrange an appointment today with one of our Canadian immigration experts, to ensure that your common-law relationship is properly and successfully represented to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.