This is the first article in a series of posts detailing our journey in obtaining a Canadian Permanent Residence through Family Sponsorship (common-law partner).

While this post describes the process we followed and was ultimately what got us approved by the IRCC without the use of a representative, it is to be treated as a guide and is in no way guaranteed to result in an approval from the IRCC. 

Our situation was as follows:

  • Nicky already held a Canadian Passport and sponsored Jessica as his common-law partner. 
  • We had both been living together for around three years before we started working on our application.
  • We applied and went through the whole process while living outside of Canada. 

The first step in the permanent residency through the Family Sponsorship process is the preparation of application forms. This article will focus on what forms need to be prepared together with any additional information which needs to be provided.

Always check on the Government of Canada’s website for the latest application package which needs to be downloaded. At the time of our application (December 2020), these were the documents together with their versions that needed to be filled:

  • IMM 5589 (06-2019) E
  • IMM 1344 (06-2019) E
  • IMM 5532 (02-2019) E
  • IMM 0008 (06-2020) E
  • IMM 5406 (08-2020) E
  • IMM 5669 (11-2018) E

The guides provided on the main IRCC site are very helpful and we do not intend to go through each and every item in detail. 

The application sections we will be focusing on in this post are the following:

  • Proof of common-law partnership
  • Proof of intent to settle in Canada
  • Proof of financial support

The reason we decided to dedicate a full post on these three sections is because they were the ones we found the trickiest to satisfy in terms of requirements. We had wished that there were more details available about how and what to provide for these sections, so we hope that this post turns out to be helpful for anyone going through the same process as we did. 

How can you prove common-law partnership?

The crux of a common-law sponsorship is proving that the sponsor and applicant have been in a genuine relationship and living together for at least one year. This is mentioned in the document checklist (IMM 5589) under the “supporting documents for sponsored persons” section.

This was especially tricky in our case since we historically threw out any documents which we deemed as unimportant. There were instances throughout the process where we found ourselves regretting having thrown out certain documents and/or paper trails. If you plan on someday going through this process, we highly suggest thinking twice before throwing something out. You never know what may come in handy during this process. 

Most of the evidence we provided and mentioned below, contained some kind of timestamp. Where possible, we tried our best to include evidence which showed that timestamps were at least one year old. We felt that the older the proof, the better. 

Proof of joint utility accounts

  • Statements of our joint bank account.

Copies of government issued documents

  • National identity document (each of our cards had the same address)
  • Covid-19 quarantine letter (since we applied during the covid pandemic, we were “lucky” enough to be both quarantined at the same time due to being in close contact to a positive case. Because of this, we received a government issued letter which showed both our names and the address of our household).

Other documents showing the same address

  • Internet bills (addressed to one of us)
  • Car insurance bills (each of us had individual bills addressed to the same household)
  • Bank statements (each of us had individual statements addressed to the same household)
  • Furniture invoices (addressed to one of us)

Photos demonstrating conjugal relationship

Here, we printed twenty pictures on A4 sized paper and provided a date and a short description for some context below each picture. We were also required to write the name of the applicant and date of birth on the back of each picture.

The pictures we chose were spread out over three years and we tried our best to diversify the situations the pictures represented. For example:

  • Weddings (pictures of us with our families)
  • Vacations
  • Family occasions
  • Random photos of us at home
  • Photos with friends

Documentary evidence of financial support

For this, we prepared a document which listed substantial expenses paid from our joint bank account. Each item in the document linked to actual transactions in our bank statement which we also included for further proof. This is what we included in the list:

  • Utilities (water and electricity)
  • Netflix subscription
  • Internet subscription
  • Groceries
  • Entertainment (restaurants, cinema, etc)
  • Miscellaneous (furniture, television, etc)

In addition, we also printed and highlighted transactions from our individual bank statements which proved that we were occasionally sending money to each other’s accounts.

Proof that relationship is recognized by friends and family

  • Letters. We reached out to family and friends and asked them to write personal letters about how they know us and about our relationship. We collected a total of six letters.
  • Social Media. We included screenshots of posts and photos of us together from our social media accounts and made sure to include timestamps where possible.

Other documents / proof

Even though not specifically mentioned in the application forms, we also included the below for additional authenticity of our relationship:

  • Wedding invitations addressed to both of us.
  • Instant messaging history snippets in English.
  • Flight reservations showing both our names.
  • Event tickets showing both our names.
  • Call logs. We printed and highlighted log entries which prove multiple calls made between us. 

How can you prove your intent to settle in Canada?

Another important aspect of the application is to prove that the sponsor intends to settle in Canada. In our case, we provided:

  • A letter detailing our short and long term plans in Canada (signed by the sponsor).
  • Letters from relatives already living in Canada vouching for our intention to move to Canada.
  • Emails which included initial conversations about property rental in Canada.
  • Conversion snippets with friends who already lived in Canada showing intent to move and settle in Canada.
  • Email correspondence with recruitment companies.
  • Email correspondence with shipping companies.

How can you prove that you will be able to financially support yourselves?

As part of the application, it needs to be proven that the sponsor will be able to support the sponsored person. This is what we provided:

  • Letter explaining how we plan to financially support ourselves once in Canada (signed by the sponsor).
  • Bank statements showing both our savings.
  • Our last two payslips.
  • Vehicle registration booklets.

We hope that this post was helpful and feel free to share your own IRCC permanent residence application experiences in the comments section.

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