Can I sponsor my common-law partner if I am still legally married?

Nancy Elliott
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Probably. For the purposes of immigration, Citizenship and Immigration Canada is primarily concerned with your current relationship. If you are legally separated from your spouse and have been in a continuous, marriage-like relationship with your common-law partner for at least one year, you may be eligible to sponsor your common-law partner.
Your eligibility will be assessed when you submit your Application to Sponsor, Sponsorship Agreement and Undertaking, but, in most cases, the fact that you have not divorced your former spouse should not be a bar to your application to sponsor your current common-law partner. You will also be required to complete the Statutory Declaration of Common-Law Union form and submit it with your application.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada defines marital status categories as follows:

Annulled Marriage: This is a marriage that is legally declared invalid. An annulment can also be a declaration by the Catholic Church that the marital union did not have a binding force.

Common-Law: This means that you have lived continuously with your partner in a marital-type relationship for a minimum of one year.

Divorced: This means that you are officially separated and have legally ended your marriage.

Legally Separated: This means that you are married, but no longer living with your spouse.

Married: This means that you and your spouse have had a ceremony that legally binds you to each other. Your marriage must be legally recognized in the country where it was performed and in Canada.

Single: This means that you have never been married and are not in a common-law relationship.

Widowed: This means that your spouse has died and that you have not re-married or entered into a common-law relationship.
It should be noted that there is a prohibition against polygamy in the immigration rules. A common-law partner sponsorship cannot be used to sponsor a second or subsequent spouse, as an existing marriage, consisting of a conjugal relationship between spouses, is a barrier to any further spousal or common-law partner sponsorship applications.
Our lawyers are skilled at compiling strong applications packages for all types of immigration matters. If you would like assistance in filing a spousal sponsorship application and want to know more about how the regulations may affect you, please feel free to contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our lawyers.

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Nancy Myles Elliott is a business person and lawyer, focusing on solutions for individuals and companies seeking to invest or relocate in Canada. Ms. Elliott leads her own law firm, focusing on immigration and citizenship law, as well as advising on corporate legal matters relevant to new immigrants.
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    Can I sponsor my bf under conjugal sponsorship even if he is already annulled in the philippines?

      Brian McFarlane

      Dear Duane,

      Thank you for your immigration inquiry. Depending on the details of your unique situation, you may be eligible to sponsor your boyfriend under common-law status. Please send us an email at; to further discuss your case.

      We look forward to hearing from you soon!


    Thanks for the post!


    I’m a permanent residence here in canada,i would like to ask if is possible to sponsor my girlfriend in the Philippines? I’m already divorced here but I’m not annulled in my country.


      Thank you for your message – yes you can sponsor your girlfriend even if you are not yet divorced as long as you are in a common law relationship with your girlfriend, meaning that you have lived together for at least one year and you have evidence of this.


    Im a permanent resident and separate apart with my common law partner we are not registered in vital statistic and livinh together 3 months in canada, can i sponsor my ex wife

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