Can a gay or bisexual man sponsor his girlfriend?

Can a gay or bisexual man sponsor his girlfriend?

Wednesday, November 04, 2020

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Dear Mr Brown,

I am a bisexual man who recently migrated to Canada. I was granted asylum based on my sexual orientation. I would now like to file for my girlfriend to join me in Canada, but I wonder if this can work since I stated I was gay on the protected person application.

— KW 

Dear KW:

While marriage immediately creates a legal relationship recognised for immigration purposes, a Canadian citizen or permanent resident may also sponsor his/her spouse, common-law partner, or conjugal partner, who is a foreign national. Based on what you have stated, I do not have all the required information to give you a comprehensive response. However, I believe that the substance of your question deals with whether a gay or bisexual man can sponsor a woman who is a partner. This I can address.

Conjugal partner

A conjugal partner is a Canadian or permanent resident’s foreign national partner who would ordinarily apply as a common-law partner, but the couple has not been able to continuously live together for one year.

Conjugal partnerships are similar to common-law relationships in other respects, including a bona fide conjugal (sexual) relationship for a period of at least one year. The conjugal partner category is mainly intended for partners where neither common-law partner status nor marriage is possible, usually because marital status or sexual orientation is illegal, combined with an immigration barrier.

To meet the definition or a conjugal partnership, a couple must prove that they rely on each other and maintain some degree of intimacy, but do not necessarily need to be sexually intimate.

Mixed-orientation couple

A mixed-orientation couple is a union between two individuals with different sexual orientations. For example, a bisexual person in a relationship or married to someone who is attracted to only one gender is in a mixed-orientation relationship. So is someone who is in a heterosexual marriage in which one spouse has just come out.

There was a recent case in Canada about a mixed-orientation couple, in which a gay man and his female friend were vacationing together and conceived a child. They decided to raise the child together.

At the time, he had been granted asylum in Canada because he had been persecuted in his home country because of his sexual orientation. He ended up filing for the woman and their child, for them to join him in Canada.

Immigration officials stated that they were not persuaded that “a homosexual man and a heterosexual woman are able to meet the sexual component of conjugal partnership”.

When the pair appealed their case, they were unsuccessful. However, on appeal before the federal court, it was held that the pair could meet the legal definition of a conjugal relationship.

The court stated that their ruling, in part, rejects a reliance on stereotypes or bias resulting in an unreasonable assessment of the evidence. It was thought that the lower court “focused exclusively” on “predetermined conclusions about the ability of mixed orientation couples to engage in sexual relations”.

As it relates to your query, it may be possible, in principle, to apply for your significant other. However, the specific facts of your situation would have to be established that you meet the definition of a conjugal relationship.

Please visit for additional information on Canadian Permanent Residence programmes, including Express Entry, the Study & Work programme, visas or appeals, etc.

Antonn Brown, BA, (Hons), LLB, MSc, RCIC, is an immigration counsel and an accredited Canadian education agent of JAMAICA2CANADA.COM — a Canadian immigration & education firm in Kingston. Send questions/comments to

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