July 25, 2017

My Marriage is Over and I Want to Sponsor My Girlfriend, Can I?

Posted by Mario Bellissimo - Bellissimo Law Group PC

Q. My friend was sponsored by his wife and arrived in Canada a few years ago, with his 2 sons, only to later discover that his wife was living with another man. They agreed to separate which they did last year.  Meanwhile, he has a girlfriend in the Philippines, a single mother for many years.  Now he wants to sponsor his girlfriend to Canada, including her daughter.  Is there any problem from the immigration point of view?

A. Very complicated question. There is more to this question than meets the eye and more information is required because the timing of these events and the types and lengths of these respective relationships are not clear and could be very important – beyond the issue of his ability to sponsor his girlfriend.  So, a number of questions would be asked by immigration counsel providing guidance on this matter.

First, was his wife in a relationship with another man in Canada while she sponsored him and at the time he landed in Canada?

Second, was he in a relationship perhaps even a common-law relationship (cohabitated together for more than one year for immigration purposes) with his current girlfriend in the Philippines before and/or during the sponsorship process as well as at the time of landing?

If they both were engaging in relationships, perhaps even living in common-law relationships, with other people at the time of sponsorship/landing, she in Canada and he in the Philippines, this could raise potential problems as to the genuineness of their relationship, ability to sponsor, and your friend qualifying as a spouse which includes the existence of a committed and exclusive spousal relationship by both individuals throughout the time of sponsorship and landing at a minimum.  This would lead to other questions.

Was the marriage only for immigration purposes? Had their marital relationship failed before or during the sponsorship process?  A finding in this regard could translate into deportation proceedings for your friend and the sponsorship of his current girlfriend would not be the primary concern.

On the other hand, if they both engaged in brief affairs this may not necessarily be definitive unless the timing and length were critical to the sponsorship and landing.  Any affair during the course of a spousal relationship would be relevant to assessing the genuineness of that relationship.

As it relates to your friend’s current circumstances assuming his sponsorship and landing from a few years ago do not raise issues and he has cohabitated with his current girlfriend for more than one year amongst other eligibility factors, generally a person who is separated from a spouse and living or has lived with somebody else in a common-law relationship may still sponsor the person as his common-law partner even if not divorced.  However, if your friend lived with her before becoming a permanent resident of Canada for over a year and did not declare her on his permanent residency application as a past common law partner before landing – this too could raise legal challenges as to potential misrepresentation and sponsorship issues.    In short, eligibility, timing and length of his relationship amongst other factors will be critical determining factors in a very complex factual and legal assessment.  He should seek out legal counsel immediately. Good luck!

For more information on Spousal Sponsorship, please click here.

To book a consultation to discuss your immigration matter, contact us today.