Being engaged or married can often weaken a visa application
An engagement deals with the intention of two individuals to establish and maintain a conjugal relationship, as opposed to a marriage or common-law partnership in which the financial, emotional and physical interdependence have already been established.

Dear Mr Brown,

I want you to advise me about applying for a fiancé’s visa. I would like to visit my significant other who is a Canadian living in Toronto. I am not ready to apply to live there as yet but would like to know the chances of getting through with the visa. Is being married a stronger case than just being common law?


Dear VM:

I receive a lot of questions about visas for visiting spouses. In my experience, being engaged or married to a Canadian citizen or permanent resident can often weaken a visa application due to strong ties to Canada. In any case, as it relates to sponsorship, a Canadian citizen or permanent resident can sponsor a spouse or common-law partner.

Common-law relationship

A relationship of marriage is established from the day the marriage is legally valid, normally demonstrated by the possession of a marriage certificate.

A common-law relationship, however, entails a combination of the following characteristics:

•Shared shelter;

•Sexual and personal behaviour, such as commitment and fidelity;

•Shared services, such as household chores;

•Social activities, such as behaving as a couple in the community and with their families;

•Economic support, such as financial arrangement and property ownership;

•Shared responsibility for raising children; and

•The general societal perception of the two as a couple.

There must be some degree of permanence, interdependence and commitment in the relationship. The relationship must be exclusive (monogamous), intimate and a mutual commitment to a shared life. The couple must subjectively present themselves as being a couple and should be objectively seen by others as being a couple.

Technically, there is not a single point in time at which a commitment is established. It is the passage of time together, and the building of intimacy and emotional ties and financial ties that is important. It includes acts such as: becoming the beneficiaries of insurance policies or estates, joint ownership of possessions, and joint expenses or sharing of income, etc.

The term “cohabitation” refers to a couple who is living together. The affairs of the couple have been combined to establish a household in one dwelling. To be considered common-law partners you must have cohabited for at least one year.

As it relates to your situation, the issue in your case is how to establish a common-law relationship when you live in Jamaica while your significant other lives in Canada.

Engaged couples

An engagement deals with the intention of two individuals to establish and maintain a conjugal relationship as opposed to a marriage or common law partnership in which the financial, emotional and physical interdependence have already been established.

It is also important to note that Canadian citizens and permanent residents CANNOT sponsor their fiancés, as there is no such category under Canadian immigration. A couple must be married or in a common-law relationship to be eligible for sponsorship.

Please visit JAMAICA2CANADA.COM for additional information on Canadian Permanent Residence programs, including Express Entry, The Study & Work programme, Visas or Appeals, etc.

Antonn Brown, BA, (Hons), LLB, MSc, RCIC, is an immigration counsel and an accredited Canadian education agent of JAMAICA2CANADA.COM— a Canadian immigration & education firm in Kingston. Send questions/comments to

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