Everything Else is Virtual, What About my Wedding?

Rameh Law > Latest in Canadian Immigration > Canadian Immigration > Covid-19 Updates > Everything Else is Virtual, What About my Wedding?

Ever since Covid-19 impacted our lives, everything has gone virtual. We can have meetings online, attend court – even create our Wills! But what about the wedding?

For a lot of our clients, they are living apart from one another. Different cities, different provinces, different countries. The thought of being able to marry your significant other online feels like a breath of fresh air for some as there are many pros that go along with it. As we all are aware, travelling causes us to miss time away from work and spend a lot of money (i.e., air fare, hotels, trips, food, etc.). With a virtual wedding, we can avoid both of these things.

Unfortunately, for couples wanting to apply for spousal sponsorship, IRCC does not recognize virtual weddings. As stated by IRCC, “If one or both parties are not physically present at the ceremony, we won’t recognize the wedding” – this means you both must be face to face, in person, to be married and for IRCC to recognize it and move forward with a family class application.

The only exemption that may be allowed is if you or your spouse is a member of the Canadian Armed Forces. The following are reasons that may allow your wedding to be recognized:

  • It was registered in a country where marriage by proxy is legal (not physically present and represented by another individual)
  • The marriage took place outside of Canada
  • You could not be physically present due to travel restrictions related to your service

If you already got married virtually, you aren’t completely out of luck. The other option is to sponsor your spouse via common-law partnership, as long as you meet all eligibility requirements and have been living together as a couple for a minimum of 12 consecutive months. Additionally, if your relationship does not reflect a common-law situation but you can prove your relationship is genuine, you may take the humanitarian and compassionate application approach to overcome the rule.

If you do not legally live in Canada or are unable to apply from within Canada, the likely option would be to do an “outland sponsorship.” The following types of relationships qualify for outland sponsorships:

  • Common law, cohabitating with your spouse for a minimum of 12 consecutive months
  • Spouses, legally married and marriage is legally valid
  • Conjugal partnership, committed and ongoing relationship of a 12-month minimum but do not cohabitate due to significant factors beyond your control

Additionally, both you (the sponsor) and the sponsored person must meet this criteria:

  • Sponsor must be a Canadian citizen or hold permanent resident status
  • Neither the sponsor nor the sponsored person can be in prison, bankrupt, or charged with a serious offence
  • Both individuals must be a minimum of 18 years old
  • Sponsor must not have previously sponsored a spouse in the 5 years preceding the application

With that being said, not all hope is lost as there are a few remaining options in your reach. At Rameh Law, we can help with all of the above-mentioned applications. Feel free to contact us today so that we can help in the journey to reunite with your loved ones.