By Maryna Gorge
The eligibility to receive spouse sponsorship requires a couple to be physically present at their wedding ceremony. Since 2015, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) decided that only Canadian Armed Force members could sponsor their spouse from a distance. This decision intended to prevent proxy marriages and victims of forced marriage, leaving them unfit for immigration. Due to the COVID19 pandemic, legitimate couples request video conference weddings to ensure safety. IRCC has recently made privilege for family, including spouses, to come to Canada if they are staying for more than 15 days. However, no decisions are in place to accommodate proxy marriages. Although the Canadian policy demands a couple to be physically present at their wedding ceremony, they can still be assessed as common-law partners if they meet all the requirements and have lived together for at least 12 consecutive months.
Coming to Canada for love during COVID-19, married couples and common-law partners must prove their marital status to border officers to be eligible for travel. Border officers assess each case and decide based on the current travel laws and the facts established by the traveler.
Documents that can be considered proof of marriage include a marriage certificate, proof of registration of marriage with a government authority, wedding invitations, and photos. If they have children, birth certificates listing the names of both parents can serve as proof.
Common-law partners can prove their relationship status by providing shared ownership of the residential property, joint leases or rental agreements, bills for shared utility accounts and documents showing the same address. Border services will accept marriage certificates issued in other countries, but couples are required to prove that the marriage is legally binding both in Canada and where it took place.
“A marriage that took place abroad must be valid both under the laws of the jurisdiction where it took place and under Canadian federal law to be considered legal for immigration purposes,” said Canada Border Services Agency.