June 9, 2009
Work Permit for a Conjugal Partner
Q. I am a foreign student and have a Study Permit valid until 2011. I have a conjugal partner back home and I would like to bring her here with me. We have been together since March 2008, but for the past two months we did not reside together as I came to Canada to study. Can she get a Work Permit? I am confused as I read on the CIC website that only spouses or common-law partners are granted an open work permit. What is your advice on this?
A. You are correct as this provision does not provide specifics for conjugal partners. To be considered common-law, you must have resided continuously for at least twelve months. But, one can always make good arguments to the visa officer and obtain an open work permit for the partner. For example, in some instances of “de facto” common-law partnerships, the separation may be due to a family emergency (going home to attend to a sick parent or a funeral for example). So there is some discretion. With strong supporting documentation of past co-habitation and a current separation because of outside factors could lead to an approval of an open work permit for your conjugal partner. These applications are tricky and so consult an immigration lawyer with experience in these types of applications to avoid both an unnecessary application if there is no merit or an unnecessary refusal if there is merit. Good luck!