Partner’s Threats Put Residency In Jeopardy

Partner's threats put residency in jeopardy

Mar 28, 2009 04:30 AM
Allan Thompson
Special to the Toronto Star

Q: I have been in Canada for nearly two years, living with my common-law partner. My residency application, submitted through the family class because of my relationship to my partner, has been approved but I am waiting to be called in to the local office to sign the papers. My partner now says he does not want to be with me. Although he says he will still come into the office to sign the landing papers, my concerns are that he is going to change his mind before then or sign, then inform immigration authorities sometime afterward that we were not actually together when he signed. What are my options if either of those scenarios takes place? He would not have to support me financially for the stipulated three-year period; it has been more me supporting him for the two years we were together.

A: This is a tricky one. You are applying for permanent resident status, a status that you want to obtain, so you are unlikely to withdraw your application. Your partner, on the other hand, has applied to sponsor you for that status, an undertaking that comes with a three-year obligation to support you financially. The rules do provide an option for sponsors to withdraw their sponsorship, but only if they do so, formally and in writing to the local immigration office before the permanent resident status is issued. So, this is your partner's choice. Couples do squabble, break up and sometimes get back together. It is up to your partner to decide if he wants to continue to sponsor you. But he should be aware that, despite your assertion that even if you part ways, you are unlikely to need his financial support, he will still be on the hook. The three-year sponsorship agreement that he signed will still be legally binding, even if your relationship dissolves. So, in a nutshell, if he decides to proceed with the sponsorship, he can't get your status revoked after it is issued. But if he decides to withdraw before you obtain your status, then your application will not proceed.

Q: My son has been separated from his wife for five years. She was granted Canadian permanent resident status in 2002. They have a daughter who carries Canadian citizenship by virtue of her father being a Canadian citizen. The daughter lives with her mother in another country. My son has been in that country for about three years but is planning to come back to live here again. He has a girlfriend whom he would like to bring to Canada. Is my son's wife still considered a Canadian immigrant? What would be required from my son should he decide to bring his daughter to Canada, even for a visit? If my son were to bring his girlfriend here in January, what would be required from her? She is a Dutch citizen.

A: To maintain status as a permanent resident of Canada, a person has to live in Canada for at least two years in any five-year period. So, depending on when your son's wife left the country, she may be in danger of losing her status. If and when your son's wife attempts to return to Canada and the border control agents notice the length of time she has been out of the country, she could be deemed to have abandoned her permanent resident status by remaining abroad for more than three years out of five. But there is also a legal process during which people are given an opportunity to explain their situation.

As for your son bringing his daughter for a visit, that would depend in part on the rules in the country where they are now living. Most airlines and border officials are attuned to the problem of child abduction linked to marriage breakdown. So, even if his wife is allowing him to bring the daughter to Canada for a visit, he would almost certainly need some sworn legal documentation with him to prove he has his wife's consent. Finally, regarding the new woman in his life, as a Dutch national she would be free to come to Canada for a visit. But if he decides he wants her to stay permanently, they would have to follow the procedures for the in-Canada sponsorship of a partner under the family class.

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