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Marriage Equality and Canadian Immigration

Having been recently married to my wonderful wife and with the birth of my first child, I have a newfound appreciation of what family truly means. I take great pride in knowing that I am a Canadian and that the value of family togetherness is a common thread woven into the legal and cultural fabric of the Canadian mindset. Sadly this isn’t the case for all countries in the world.



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There are many examples of places in the world where couples are not allowed to express themselves or offered the same legal and financial protections that other heterosexual couples have, simply because they are same-sex partners. With Russia in the news so much these days because of the Sochi Winter Olympics, Russia’s treatment of gays and lesbians has not gone unnoticed and shows no signs of getting better. Or, in a much worse example, in Uganda, same-sex partnerships are punishable by life in prison.

But despite all that, on a sunny day in early June, 2003 the first same-sex marriage was held in Canada, the first of many yet to come. Contrary to what the opponents would say at the time, there was no anarchy in the streets and the “foundations of the family” were not undermined or eroded. The opponents to gay marriage always puzzle me, especially when such clear lines of comparison can be drawn to the not-so-long-ago practice of banning interracial marriage, which we now deplore as blatantly racist.

Canada made a bold statement when legalizing same-sex marriage and became a beacon of hope for many gay and lesbian couples around the world. These individuals could finally live in peace and freedom, together as a family, within the safety of Canadian borders.

Same-sex marriages from other countries are regarded the same as heterosexual marriages in Canada, provided they were done so under legal means. Unfortunately, as we know, not all countries are as progressive as Canada in allowing same-sex partnerships so Immigration Canada provides other options available to these types of individuals like common-law relationships and in some cases, conjugal relationships.

Common-law and conjugal relationships are also completely valid for heterosexual couples but they are often the only option available to people in same-sex relationships.

Common-law and conjugal spouses are awarded the same rights and privileges as a married spouse on your immigration application. Both require the couple to demonstrate that they are, and have been in a relationship for at least 12 months or longer, and they can demonstrate a significant degree of commitment to each other.

To be considered common-law spouses the couple must demonstrate that they have resided together in a committed relationship for at least 12 months continuously. A conjugal relationship does not. When applying as conjugal spouses, you need to demonstrate not only that you are in a relationship but there exists a significant barrier preventing you from being able to live together. For example, same-sex couples in Uganda would be at risk of going to jail for life if they were to live together and therefore would most likely be considered conjugal spouses. Immigration barriers and religious reasons are also valid considerations.

So if you are a same-sex, or heterosexual couple looking for a place to live with safety and security for you and your partner, consider Canada as an ideal destination. Even if one of you is not eligible to apply, your partner might qualify and you would be included on the application and also granted Canadian Permanent Residence. Find out your options by completing our free online assessment for skilled workers.

If you are a Canadian looking to sponsor your partner, Canadim is at your disposal . We love to help reunite families and have 15 plus years of experience doing so. Fill out our free online assessment for family sponsorship today or call us to get started.

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Renaud Dery,

Canadian Immigration Attorney




With 15 years of experience in the Canadian Immigration field we are now leading experts in this program. Become part of our community, and then let us help you become part of the Canadian community!

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