What does a ‘bona fide relationship with my spouse’ mean to Canadian Immigration officials?

According to Canada's Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the government provides Canadian citizens and permanent residents the opportunity to sponsor a family member or significant other to reside with him or her in Canada. This includes common law or conjugal partners, spouse, a legitimate or adopted child, or any other relative of the sponsor. However, the guidelines that govern the sponsoring of a spouse all boils down to proving that your marriage or relationship is "bona fide".

The term bona fide can be defined as “made in good faith; without deception or fraud”. Therefore when applying to sponsor your spouse, certain details of the relationship must be presented as genuine and true in order to be successful in the application process. This is necessary, because CIC is fully aware that many people get married under false pretences with the sole intention of receiving permanent resident status.

When a person agrees to sponsor a spouse, they are entering into a contractual agreement called an undertaking with the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. The outline of this contract is that the sponsor consents to giving financial support to their spouse or conjugal partner with basic necessities including but not limited to food, clothing, shelter and utilities. This requires that the sponsor provides this support to their spouse until the end of the three year undertaking period, irrespective of a breakdown of the relationship.

The term spouse, under Canadian legislation can be categorized as: wife/husband, common-law-spouse, or conjugal spouse. However it does not recognize or include the classifications of boyfriend, girlfriend or fiancé. If you are applying to sponsor your wife or husband be sure to include the following:

  • Marriage certificate
  • Wedding pictures
  • Scrap book of memories spent together (photographs)
  • Joint bank account information
  • Proof of joint expenditures e.g. house, car, land
  • Letter from close family member

If you are not married but have been in a committed relationship for at least 12 months, it is considered to be a common-law commitment. Therefore, you should provide similar details of joint assets, responsibilities or anything that supports that you are interdependent upon each other, and are physically and emotionally attached.

Essentially, every marriage/relationship is unique, however you must ensure that sufficient and accurate evidence must be is given to support that you are in a long-term and committed relationship. Showing particulars about, where you met, how you fell in love, similar religious and moral beliefs, public declarations of a loving and affectionate connection.

The following guidelines determine a person's eligibility to sponsor:

  • Must be 18 years or older
  • Be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident
  • Currently living in Canada
  • Provide evidence that you have adequate earnings to support your spouse financially

To find out more information on your eligibility to sponsor or about the sponsorship procedure, be sure to contact a knowledgeable immigration lawyer who may help you present your bona fide relationship effectively.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended as legal advice and is for general information purposes only. This information may also be time sensitive. Always contact an Immigration Lawyer for information and advice specific to your situation.

Name  *
E-mail  *
Phone  *
Tell us about your case
I acknowledge that I have read the
Privacy Policy and Legal Disclaimer