According to Section 2 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulation (IRPR), a conjugal partner is a foreign individual living outside Canada who is in a conjugal relationship with a sponsor and has been in that relationship for at least one year. A conjugal relationship refers to a type of relationship recognized for immigration purposes in Canada. It is a category that accommodates individuals who are unable to marry or live together due to significant barriers, such as legal, immigration, or cultural restrictions.

Interpretations of Conjugal Relationships

  1. Inability to cohabit due to persecution or any form of penal control. In some foreign jurisdictions, two persons in a same-sex relationship may be unable to live together because it is illegal.
  2. Applicant or sponsor legally married to another person. In certain countries, the religious opposition to the legalization of divorce persists. In these situations, individuals who are married to someone else can still be recognized as conjugal partners if their marriage has deteriorated and they have lived apart from their spouse for a minimum of one year.
two women at a wedding

Factors that are considered

In both conjugal partner and common-law relationships, there is no specific moment of commitment or a single legal document to validate the relationship. Instead, the relationship is characterized by the gradual development of intimacy, emotional connections, and the gathering of various forms of evidence.

The following shows a list of factors considered to determine whether any two individuals are actually in a conjugal relationship:

  1. Shared shelter
  2. Sexual and personal behaviour (e.g. fidelity, commitment, feeling towards each other)
  3. Services (e.g. conduct and habit with respect to the sharing of household chores)
  4. Social activities (e.g. their attitude and conduct as a couple in the community and with their families)
  5. Economic support (e.g. financial arrangements, ownership of property)
  6. Children (e.g. attitude and conduct concerning children)
  7. Societal perception of the two as a couple

Please note: Requiring the ability to marry as a strict condition for conjugal partnership is not appropriate because it could pressure couples into marrying against their wishes. Therefore, individuals who have formed and sustained a conjugal relationship for one year, and who have no intention of getting married, can still be recognized as conjugal partners.