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Can I Sponsor a Spouse I Married by Proxy?

In some cultures, proxy marriages – marriages conducted when one or both intended spouses are not physically present at the ceremony – are common. Whether for religious or cultural reasons, these types of marriages happen frequently in some areas of the world.

Effective June 11, 2015, however, proxy marriages are not recognized as valid for immigration purposes in Canada.

Per an operational bulletin issued by Citizenship and Immigration Canada, it no longer recognizes any marriage performed overseas by proxy (an individual standing in for one or both spouses), telephone, facsimile, the internet, or any other situation where one or both spouses do not physically attend the ceremony. Furthermore, it does not matter if the proxy ceremony was valid and legal in the applicant’s home country. All proxy marriage are inapplicable for immigration purposes in Canada.

Previously, Citizenship and Immigration Canada allowed proxy marriages. As such, any immigration applications featuring a proxy marriage filed prior to June 11, 2015 are excluded from the new requirement.

Furthermore, the new rule includes a notable exception for members of the Canadian armed forces. To qualify, the proxy marriage must take place due to a service member’s travel restrictions due to service obligations. Also, the proxy marriage must be legal in the country in which it is performed.

If you were married in a proxy ceremony, you may still be able to sponsor your spouse as a common-law partner under Canadian immigration law. You may also be able to seek immigrant status under humanitarian and compassionate relief. Speak to an experienced immigration lawyer to explore your options.

Butkowsky Immigration Law

With more than two decades of experience focused exclusively on immigration and refugee law, Larry Butkowsky has earned the respect of the Toronto legal community and the gratitude of many satisfied clients. He is committed to protecting his clients’ rights and making sure that they achieve their Canadian immigration dreams. Call (416) 979-2127 to discuss your immigration matters.

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