Sun | Nov 29, 2020

Immigration Corner | Same-sex relationship and sponsorship

Published:Tuesday | June 11, 2019 | 12:16 AM

Dear Ms Powell,

I have been dating a Canadian for the past four years. He is a landscape designer. He usually visits in the winter and I visit when I get my leave from work. We are wondering if I need to get married for him to sponsor me. I want to go back to school and plan to sell the car that we have here in Jamaica to pay for college. Should I apply for college if he can’t sponsor me? Also, does it matter that we are both males? My boyfriend said it is legal there. What is the best way for us to be together? We need your help. Thanks

AO

Dear AO,

In Canada, same-sex relationships are legal. By virtue of The Civil Marriage Act of 2005, marriage was defined as gender-neutral; thereby legally recognising same-sex marriage throughout Canada. Therefore, your sex does not affect your right to get married or to be in a legitimate relationship which will be recognised by the Government of Canada.

You have various options available to you and the ultimate decision to get married is a very personal one and should not be based solely on immigration factors. You do not have to get married for your boyfriend to sponsor you. Your boyfriend can sponsor you if you are able to prove that you are in a conjugal relationship.

A conjugal relationship may be defined as a committed relationship between individuals over the age of 18, who have been in a mutually-dependent relation for a continuous period of at least 12 months.

Proof of Relationship

If you choose the sponsorship route, you will need to be able to provide proof of your committed and stable relationship. Also, you must be able to demonstrate that the only reason you are not living together, is because of immigration restrictions, religious belief, work or other obligations.

It is critical that you demonstrate social, financial and emotional connection to each other.

You indicated that you own a vehicle in Jamaica. Is the vehicle in both names? Did he give you the money to pay for this vehicle? This could be evidence of financial commitment to each other.

Some other proof that you will need to submit are photographs of both of you together, as well as with family and friends. Communication records, plane tickets, shared bills, bank accounts, insurance policies, proof of joint ownership of property, letters from family and friends, social media communication and acknowledgement of relationship openly.

It is important that you both pay attention to the obligations for sponsorship. Your sponsor will need to undertake to be responsible for you financially, as well as undertake that you will not become a financial burden to the government of Canada. This undertaking will be for a minimum of three years. This means that if you obtain assistance from the government during the restrictive period, then your boyfriend/spouse could be legally required to reimburse the government for those expenses.

Other requirements are that your boyfriend must not have been sponsored by someone else to become a permanent resident within the last three years, or have sponsored another spouse in the same period. For you, your requirements are to pass the medical, criminal and security checks as a part of the evaluation.

Deciding on Options

Study permit could be an option depending on your ultimate goals. Study permit is a temporary resident visa. In order to obtain one, you will need to demonstrate your intention to return to your home country at the end of your studies and that there are circumstances which will motivate you to return to your home country. If you have stronger ties to Canada than you have to your home country, then you run the risk of your study permit being refused for “failing to establish sufficient ties”.

You should note that a study permit does not give you the same rights as that of a permanent resident or citizen.

I strongly recommend that you hire a lawyer to guide and provide you more information, about the difference between sponsorship and study permits. Also, there may even be other options available to you to live permanently in Canada, based on your background and qualifications.

Deidre S. Powell is a lawyer, mediator and notary public who is a member of the Jamaican and Ontario, Canada bars, with office located in Ottawa, Ontario. Email: info@deidrepowell.com. Subject: Immigration; Tel: 613-695-8777. Sign up at www.deidrepowell.com. Follow her on Facebook, twitter or Instagram for more information.