Canada’s travel restrictions to contain the spread of coronavirus do not extend to an immediate family member, including common-law partners.
For the purpose of immigration, IRCC defines a common-law partnership as two people who have lived together for at least one year in what the government calls a “conjugal relationship,” or a “marriage-like” relationship. Canadian citizens and permanent resident may qualify to sponsor their common-law partners for Canadian permanent residence.
Couples can prove that they lived together for at least one year by providing a mortgage or lease in both names. If that is not possible, they may also use utility bills, phone bills, driver license, bank statements, credit card bills, or any document that would show they have lived together for twelve (12) consecutive months.
With special coronavirus measures in place, partners who are travelling to Canada can use these and other relevant documents to prove their relationship status at the Port of Entry or border.
Special measures stimulated by the coronavirus pandemic will affect couples differently depending on their application, and whether they are applying for Outland or Inland sponsorship.
The difference between Inland sponsorship and Outland sponsorship
Despite how it may sound, both type of sponsorship applications can be made within Canada.
Outland sponsorships means the application is being processed via the visa office that serves as the foreign national’s country of origin. Outland candidates may be allowed to travel to and from Canada, but, they must comply to the mandatory rules for travellers. Canada is also encouraging everyone to avoid leaving the country for non-essential travel.
Inland sponsorships on the other hand is when both partners are staying together in Canada. The foreign common-law partner has temporary resident status in Canada as a student, worker, or visitor.
Maintaining legal status in Canada while waiting for application results
The Open Work Permit Pilot stream for Inland common-law partners and spouses permits partners to work anywhere for any Canadian employer while their applications are still being processed. This pilot program will be available until at least July 31, 2020.
In order to qualify for this open work permit the following requirements must be met:
- the application for permanent residence through spousal sponsorship or common-law must be in processing;
- both partners must live at the same address;
- both partners must meet eligibility requirements under the spousal or common-law sponsorship program; and
- the candidate must possess a valid temporary resident status as a worker, student or visitor.
Common-law partners who wish to extend their temporary resident status can apply online. If they have stopped studying or working they may be eligible for a visitor visa. If they are still working or studying they may be able to extend their status. Holders of visitor visa can also apply to extend their stay.
Incomplete applications may be accepted
Canada immigration ministry (IRCC) may accept incomplete application provided that the document are missing due to COVID-19 service disruptions.
Partners who are filing new common-law sponsorship applications, but were not able to provide the required supporting documentations must lodge a detailed notification letter explaining the delays.
Incomplete application will be kept and reviewed in ninety (90) days. If the application is still incomplete in sixty (60) days, IRCC officers are instructed to request the missing document with an additional ninety (90)-day deadline.