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Canadian Immigration for Same-Sex Couples
from Border --- Connections
October 8, 2004

Because binational couples are ripped apart by U.S. immigration laws, Canada is a shining beacon for those seeking the freedom to keep their family intact.

While the U.S. immigration laws do not recognize same-sex relationships — and shamefully treats them as second class citizens — Canadian citizens enjoy many rights and benefits in the areas of taxes, medical coverage, retirement, and the right to adopt children.

Canada has some of the most gay- lesbian- bisexual- and transgender-friendly immigration laws in the world. Many gay men and lesbians move to Canada each year to enjoy improved civil rights, and the protections of a tolerant society.

Same-sex marriage is legal in many provinces and territories and it is likely that it will be nationwide soon. [Please see: Canada Offers Legal Marriage]

There are two primary ways to immigrate to Canada:

  • Sponsored by your Canadian partner
  • Immigration based on your own merit

Once you become a permanent resident (called a “landed immigrant”) of Canada, you could apply for Canadian citizenship in three years.

Sponsored by Your Canadian Partner

If you have a partner who is a Canadian citizen, or permanent resident, you may be able to be sponsored as a spouse, common-law partner, or conjugal partner. If you marry your Canadian partner in a province or territory where same-sex marriage is legal, your spouse can sponsor you.

Common-law partners are similar to domestic partners, and are defined as “life partners” who have been living together for at least one year.

A Conjugal partner is like a domestic or common-law partner, but no cohabitation is required. Conjugal partners can be a couple who maintain the life partner form of relationship for at least one year, but are unable to live together. The separation may be due to visa requirements or restrictions, or fear of prosecution of homosexuality, common in some countries.

Applying on Your Own Merit

If you are single, or in a same-sex relationship, but neither of you are Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada, you can immigrate to Canada based on your own merit if you qualify as a Skilled Worker (Independent), Entrepreneur, Investor, or Self-employed.

The Skilled Worker (Independent) category is one of the most popular categories since you can apply based on your own merit without having a Canadian partner or Canadian company to sponsor you. You are assessed on a point system that is based on your:

  • Education - Ph.D., master, bachelor, or trade or non-university certificate or diploma
  • Work experience - 1-4 years of work experience
  • Language skills - English and French
  • Age - 21-49 gets the maximum points
  • Adaptability - having a relative in Canada, previous schooling or work in Canada, and spouse or common-law partner’s educational level
  • Arranged employment in Canada.

The Entrepreneur category applies to those who have business management experience, and plan to utilize it in Canada.

The Investor category is similar to the entrepreneur category, in terms of requiring a business management experience, however, it also requires investing C$400,000 in the Canadian economy.

The Self-employed category applies to those who are in cultural, or athletic fields, or in farm management.

As a same-sex couple, you can jointly apply. You can choose a principal applicant who qualifies under one of the categories, and his or her partner can be included as a common-law partner.

Bridging the Gap for Binational Couples

Many binational couples immigrate to Canada as skilled workers, entrepreneurs, investors, or self-employed. Canada immigration is valued as an option since many countries do not recognize same-sex relationships, and do not allow a gay person to sponsor his or her same-sex partner. For example, a Japanese and American gay couple can submit the same Canadian immigration application. They can choose either person as the principal applicant, and list the partner as a common-law or domestic partner.

If a couple has been living separately — due to visa requirements and restrictions — the principal applicant is unable to include a common-law partner in the application. The applicant needs to apply alone and become a permanent resident. After becoming a resident, the partner can be sponsored under the Family Class category. Of course, a couple can submit separate immigration applications if they both qualify individually.

© 2004, Border --- Connections

Border --- Connections
604-939-0569; fax 604-608-3241
Further on immigration, visas, and permits:

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