Gavel comes down on wedding couple dollsInternational students and recent graduates are sometimes hurried into marriage or common-law partnerships by boyfriends or girlfriends who suggest that a deeper relationship will help them obtain legal status in Canada. This can have very negative consequences.

This is a brief outline of the potential problems created by a premature or poorly timed spousal sponsorship. For a full understanding of the issue, read my column here.

Entering into a relationship too early can lead a relationship to break down, which can create many serious legal problems:

  1. The Canadian partner can withdraw the sponsorship.
  2. The couple might be investigated by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada for misrepresentation, which carries very serious consequences.
  3. An estranged or former partner may threaten to accuse the immigrant spouse of misrepresentation.
  4. The immigrant spouse cannot sponsor someone else for immigration for five years, even if they have divorced their first partner.
  5. The Canadian partner is financially responsible for the immigrant spouse for three years, even if the relationship has ended.

Even if the relationship remains strong, there are other legal dangers:

  1. The student might have trouble staying in Canada if the student has given up their own studies or did not apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit and if there is a delay or error that leads to processing the sponsorship.
  2. Couples often choose poorly when deciding the sponsorship category. The in-Canada sponsorship option carries extra risks; there is no right to appeal and a chance that the application will fail if the couple is forced by circumstance to spend time apart.
  3. It is difficult to prove that a marriage or common-law partnership is both genuine and that it is not primarily for immigration.
  4. Couples sometimes are misinformed and believe that they will qualify as common-law partners just because they lived together for a year.


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