Should I Declare My Marriage?

Are you thinking of getting married while your application for permanent residence is in process?

Are you applying for permanent residence, but don’t know whether to marry your fiancé and declare them before becoming a permanent resident? Be very careful, as if you don’t deal with this situation carefully, it could have far-reaching negative implications on your status and ability to sponsor your loved-one to Canada.

Here is a scenario we see often at our office:

Karla has applied for permanent residence and has been asked to submit her passport so that her visa can be issued. She has been engaged to Adam for several months, and they decide to get married before she leaves for Canada so that she can file an application to sponsor him as soon as possible after she arrives. They consider informing the visa office about the marriage, but decide not to because they fear it will delay her visa issuance.

After landing in Canada as a permanent resident, Karla files an application to sponsor Adam. To her surprise, Immigration refuses her application because she did not notify them of her marriage before being landed as a permanent resident. Even worse, she has now received a letter in the mail from Immigration saying that they want to revoke her permanent resident status for misrepresentation.

How could Karla have avoided this situation? There are two ways.

First, she could have delayed her marriage until after she was landed as a permanent resident. This will not mean that she would not need to declare him in every case though. For example, if Karla and Adam were living together for one year or more before she became a permanent resident, she would need to declare him as her common-law partner.

Second, if she chose to marry Adam before being landed as a permanent resident, she should have notified Canadian immigration authorities of her marriage. Certainly, this would delay her being landed as a permanent resident, as the visa office would need further information about Adam before finalizing Karla’s application, including his personal history, police clearances, and a medical examination. However, the potential consequences of not declaring him could be devastating to her, as she risks not only being unable to be reunited with Adam in Canada, but losing her own permanent resident status altogether.

And what can Karla do now that she is in this situation? While there are some options available to her, her situation is complicated and could take years to resolve. If she has not yet been sent for an admissibility hearing, she can try to convince Immigration authorities not to proceed with one for humanitarian and compassionate (H&C) reasons. If that doesn’t work, she will almost certainly be found to have misrepresented, but then can appeal that decision on H&C grounds. It could take several months or years before her hearing date, and she will need to file evidence and make oral submissions before an immigration adjudicator as to why her appeal should be allowed. If her appeal is granted, she can file a new application to sponsor her husband and request an H&C exemption from the bar on sponsoring him because she did not disclose him. Her sponsorship application could also take months or years to be resolved.

If you are in a relationship and unsure as to whether you should disclose your partner on your application, it is a good idea to get legal advice an immigration lawyer. You should also get legal advice if you were landed as a permanent resident after failing to disclose a family member.

This post is for informational purposes only and is neither legal advice nor a substitute for obtaining legal advice. Immigration policies and programs change frequently, and so the information in this post may have changed since it was prepared on December 16, 2017.

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Aisling Bondy, B.A., LL.B. is the Principal of Bondy Immigration Law.