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Canadian bringing "British" boyfriend home: should we apply for common-law or IEC?

Canadian bringing "British" boyfriend home: should we apply for common-law or IEC?

Old Sep 1st 2013, 3:05 pm
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Default Canadian bringing "British" boyfriend home: should we apply for common-law or IEC?

*Note: I've put "British" because he's in the process of getting his British passport and has lived in the UK for years. He's actually from New Zealand.

Hi, can someone pleease give me some visa/immigration advice?

My boyfriend wants to move to Canada with me a few months after my youth mobility visa expires. Obviously I want him to move with me as well and want to spend as little time away from him as possible.

As far as I know we have two options: the common-law visa or the IEC visa (International Experience Canada-- it's only a year long). He's not a student, so international studies is not an option.

Do we have any other options? I'd love to hear them.


Maybe I have a skewed understanding of what "common-law" means, but this is what I've gathered from my research: declaring common-law is the same as getting married, just minus the ceremony. Apparently the definition is slightly different from province to province, but that's what I gathered from researching my province (BC).

For these reasons I want my boyfriend to apply for the IEC visa and have a trial run in Canada together before applying for the common-law visa. I'm only 21 and don't want to get married/get into any huge legal commitments until I've finished university at least! I also wouldn't want to apply for the common-law visa before he meets my family, which won't be until next summer.

We're both 100% committed to each other, but my boyfriend is a few years older and actually ready for that type of commitment. He also thinks applying for the IEC visa is dishonest because his intention is to permanently move to Canada to be with me. We have a job lined up for him already that he would be perfect for and he is really excited to move, but I also want to make sure he's happy in Canada before declaring common-law and making it really permanent.

My parents don't have an opinion on our situation yet. They're yet to meet him. My mum will meet him in Nov' and the rest of my family next summer. BUT they were telling me that I need to think long and hard before declaring common-law (they know common-law couples who have gotten into financial hardship and lost their homes to their partner when they broke up). I know that sounds terribly paranoid, but they have a good point and their approval is important to me.


Here's a timeline to give my question some context:


May '12
Met boyfriend while travelling.

December '12
Came to UK on Youth Mobility Visa to live with my NZ/soon to be UK citizen boyfriend. Became exclusive and started living together.



And here's the plan for the next year...



November '13
My mom will meet him.

December '13
Going to visit relatives for Christmas minus boyfriend.

January-April '14
eligible for common-law visa application --> start application if we decide to take that route.
OR --> he will apply or the IEC.

May-August '14 (roughly)
Boyfriend and I are going home for a family wedding.
I'm planning on staying at home and working (I have a summer job lined up for when I go back, which is wonderful).
Boyfriend is going back to the UK to work and wait for his British passport (he's been in the UK for years and feels more British than NZ).

September '14
Return to university.

February/March '14
Boyfriend will come to Canada either on common-law visa or International Experience Canada visa for a year.
(this is probably the soonest he'll be able to come over because he'll be waiting for his British passport).


Thank you guys sooo much

Last edited by vancouver1991; Sep 1st 2013 at 3:07 pm.
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Old Sep 1st 2013, 3:48 pm
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Default Re: Canadian bringing "British" boyfriend home: should we apply for common-law or IEC

Hello! I'll respond in chunks to make things a bit easier to follow.

Originally Posted by vancouver1991
*Note: I've put "British" because he's in the process of getting his British passport and has lived in the UK for years. He's actually from New Zealand.

Hi, can someone pleease give me some visa/immigration advice?

My boyfriend wants to move to Canada with me a few months after my youth mobility visa expires. Obviously I want him to move with me as well and want to spend as little time away from him as possible.

As far as I know we have two options: the common-law visa or the IEC visa (International Experience Canada-- it's only a year long). He's not a student, so international studies is not an option.
These are the two most obvious options. IEC will open again in December/January, but you have to be on the ball because the spaces disappear in a matter of days. That will give him one year to work, and I *think* the option of extending for a second year, but my knowledge about the IEC is fuzzy at best.

Do we have any other options? I'd love to hear them.
There is also the option of trying to get various work permits like LMO/TWP, or going via PNP. BC does have nominee program - lots of information about all of this on the wiki (linked in the blue bar at the top).

Maybe I have a skewed understanding of what "common-law" means, but this is what I've gathered from my research: declaring common-law is the same as getting married, just minus the ceremony. Apparently the definition is slightly different from province to province, but that's what I gathered from researching my province (BC).
For the purposes of immigration, common-law means being in a marriage-like relationship, without being married. To qualify, you have to have been living together as though you were husband and wife for a period of at least 12 months, unbroken (if you live together 5 months, then you move back to Canada, and he moves a month later, that will be considered having broken your cohabitation and the clock will restart). You have to show you are not just roommates, they will want to see evidence of you combining your lives - joint bank accounts, joint insurance, joint utilities, shared household purchases, named on each other's life insurance, all the things you would otherwise expect of a married couple.

For these reasons I want my boyfriend to apply for the IEC visa and have a trial run in Canada together before applying for the common-law visa. I'm only 21 and don't want to get married/get into any huge legal commitments until I've finished university at least! I also wouldn't want to apply for the common-law visa before he meets my family, which won't be until next summer.
Sponsoring someone is a huge undertaking, and not something you can enter into lightly. You will be financially responsible for your husband for 3 years from him being granted his PR. If he claims government assistance, you will be charged for the costs incurred by the government. (This is for things like welfare, etc - not unemployment insurance or health care.)

In addition, when he is granted PR, it will be conditional PR - if you break up within two years of his PR being granted, he will have his PR revoked.

I would advise you only to go down the common-law sponsorship route if you see this as a lifelong relationship. If you aren't sure, then I wouldn't suggest taking on this responsibility.

(Just for clarity, I'm not suggesting you aren't ready or won't be ready once you are eligible, I'm just pointing out the facts so you can make an informed decision.)

We're both 100% committed to each other, but my boyfriend is a few years older and actually ready for that type of commitment. He also thinks applying for the IEC visa is dishonest because his intention is to permanently move to Canada to be with me. We have a job lined up for him already that he would be perfect for and he is really excited to move, but I also want to make sure he's happy in Canada before declaring common-law and making it really permanent.
There's nothing dishonest about applying for IEC - there are tons of people who use it as their first step into Canada because if you're under 30 it's the easiest work permit to get! Other work permits can be significantly more tough. As I said, though, the IEC program will reopen in Dec/Jan, and the spaces fill up within a matter of days - you have to have your application ready to go as soon as it opens. Again, tons on the wiki and elsewhere on the forum about this.

As for being common-law, as I said above, you have to qualify and ultimately be viewed as common-law in the eyes of CIC, you can't just "declare" that you are common-law partners.

My parents don't have an opinion on our situation yet. They're yet to meet him. My mum will meet him in Nov' and the rest of my family next summer. BUT they were telling me that I need to think long and hard before declaring common-law (they know common-law couples who have gotten into financial hardship and lost their homes to their partner when they broke up). I know that sounds terribly paranoid, but they have a good point and their approval is important to me.
From looking at your timeline below, you'll qualify as common-law in December 2013. The IEC visa will re-open in Dec/Jan. I'm not sure how long it takes to have the visa granted (someone else can jump in there, or the info may be on the wiki), but what you could do is apply as common-law in early 2014, move to Canada together once the IEC is granted, and you'll then have PR granted before the IEC visa runs out and that will enable your boyfriend to stay in Canada permanently.

If your boyfriend really doesn't want to apply for IEC (again, nothing dishonest there!), then you could stay in the UK until his PR is granted, which would probably be Summer 2014. You can then move to Canada after that, but that does of course mean you remaining in the UK for a bit longer if you don't want to be separated.

Hopefully I've covered anything... let me know if you have any questions! I edited bits of this as I read more info in your post, so apologies if any of this is disjointed!
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