Canada has ruled out virtual marriages from the purview of Canada immigration policy to be eligible for family-class sponsorship. But foreign spouses of Canadian citizens or residents might still cross the border.
The rule that applies to virtual marriages was introduced by IRCC (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada) in 2015. Then it was decided that only members of the Canadian Armed Forces could sponsor their spouse who they wed from far beyond Canadian territory. These marriages must have had certain conditions that forced them to be done virtually or by proxy.
Proxy marriages are considered greatly vulnerable to abuse as the real couples are not the ones who solemnize the marriage. It becomes easier to force two people to get into wedlock. The restrictive nature of this rule ensures that no victim of proxy marriage get s to be eligible for immigration Canada offers otherwise.
But today, there is confusion and debate whether a marriage solemnized between two genuine persons via video conference owing to COVID-19 travel restrictions should be treated as a proxy marriage.
While a proxy wedding can be done by a representative of the actual couple, virtual wedding involves the participation of the original couple in a virtual ceremony. The ceremony could be held via video messenger, fax or phone.
IRCC’s law is particular that couples must be physically present at their marriage ceremony, only which will qualify them to be considered for spousal sponsorship.
But the fact also is that during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, there has been an exponential increase in demand for virtual marriages. The largest spike was seen in March 2020.
IRCC has been considerate for families, recognizing their need for being together during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. It has even exempted immediate family members to enter Canada if they are arriving to stay for at least 15 days. But even then, it hasn’t made any provision to approve and accommodate proxy marriages.
The option now for couples who have done virtual marriage is to get themselves assessed as common-law partners, provided they meet all requirements to be considered so. They should also have lived together for a minimum of 12 consecutive months. They may even marry if allowed to cross the border, to meet the purposes of IRCC in Canada.
Common-law partners and married couples must prove their marital status to border officers so that they may get exemption from travel restrictions. Besides this, they also must comply with quarantine regulations upon arrival in Canada.
To prove one’s marriage status, a married couple can present:
- wedding photos and invitations
- if having children in common, long-form birth certificates or adoption records with the names of both parents
- proof of marriage registration with a government (national, provincial, or local) authority
- marriage certificate
To prove their relation, common-law partners can produce:
- bills for shared utility accounts like:
- joint utility accounts
- joint leases or rental agreements
- shared ownership of residential property
- document proof for both partners showing the same address like:
- insurance policies
- driver’s licenses
- other identification documents
Though Canadian border services will accept marriage certificates issued in other nations, couples still must prove that their marriage is still legally binding in the region where it was solemnized and in Canada.
If you are looking to Study, Work, Visit, Invest or Migrate to Canada, talk to Y-Axis, the World’s No.1 Immigration & Visa Company.
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