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The Canadian Immigration System: An Overview

Types Of Applications:

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) uses different types, or classes, of applications. This page tells you how same-sex couples or LGBT people can use these different types of applications.

Family Class
The purpose of this class is to reunify families. A Canadian citizen/permanent resident may sponsor:

  • Spouse (legally married)
  • Common-law partner & conjugal partner (same-sex or opposite-sex partners)
  • Dependent child

As of June 28, 2002 same-sex partners of Canadian citizens and permanent residents can apply to immigrate to Canada in the Family Class as common-law or conjugal partners. To apply to immigrate in the family class:

  1. The Canadian (citizen or permanent resident) agrees to sponsor their partner.
  2. The couple demonstrates that their relationship is genuine and meets the CIC's definition of common-law or conjugal partners.

After reading this overview, look for more specific information under Family Class The usual way to make an application is from outside Canada. However in some cases, if a common-law partner already has current legal status in Canada an application can be made within Canada. See In Canada class for details.

Economic Class
This class allows people who will help Canada's economy to settle in Canada. It includes Skilled worker and Business applications.

If neither you nor your partner is Canadian, one of you may be able to apply as an economic immigrant and then sponsor your same-sex partner. For example, an American man who applies as an Economic Class immigrant can sponsor his Thai partner. A lesbian couple, say from the Philippines, could settle in Canada if one of the women met the criteria for Economic Class. See Foreign Couples for details.

This class is for people who fear persecution in their home countries as a member of a particular social group. Canada's refugee policy recognizes sexual orientation, gender-based persecution, and HIV+ status as grounds for applying as a member of a particular social group to make a refugee claim. See Refugees for more.

Live-in Caregiver
Participants in the Live-in Caregiver program are eligible to apply for permanent residency after working in Canada for two years. Live-in Caregivers can then include their partners as part of their application for permanent residency. See Temporary Visas for more.

Humanitarian & Compassionate (H&C) reasons
Under the old law all same-sex partners became permanent residents of Canada based on Humanitarian and Compassionate consideration (H&C). This is no longer the process that is used. There is still the possibility of making an H&C application. However, this is only an option in rare circumstances.

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Requirements For All Applicants

Medical Exam
All applicants must pass a medical exam given by a designated doctor. The purpose of the exam is to check for:

  1. any public safety health concerns
  2. any health conditions that require long term health and social service support

Those applying as Family Class spouses, common-law and conjugal partners of Canadian citizens/ permanent residents as well as their dependent children must meet the public safety health requirements. For example, someone with active tuberculosis is ineligible to immigrate until they are treated.

However, partners using the Family Class application can immigrate to Canada even if they have a medical condition that will require health or social service support. For example: HIV+, heart condition, breast cancer, etc.

Police Certificates
As part of a criminal background check, applicants are required to get police certificates from countries where they have lived. The application kits available at the CIC web site include specific information about how to get police certificates in different countries.

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Permanent Resident Status In Canada

If your application is approved, you will be given Permanent Resident Status in Canada when you arrive in Canada. As a Permanent Resident of Canada:

  • You have the right to live, work, study and travel in the country.
  • You have obligations like paying taxes and obeying the laws of Canada.
  • You do not have the right to vote, or to hold certain jobs (e.g. serving in the military).
  • If you leave Canada for an extended period you may lose your permanent resident status.

Permanent residents are not automatically Citizens. You must apply separately for citizenship after you have been a permanent resident for three years.

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This page describes how different types of applications work for Same-sex couples and LGBT people

Types Of Applications
     › Family Class
     › Economic Class
     › Refugees
     › Live-in Caregiver
     › H & C

Requirements For All Applicants 
     › Medical Examination
     › Police Certificates

Permanent Resident Status


Common-law partner: two people in a genuine, committed relationship who have lived together for at least 12 months

Conjugal partners: two people in a genuine committed, interdependent relationship of some permanence. They must have been in the relationship for at least one year and must have met and spent some time together.

For transgendered people
it is the sex recorded on your birth certificate that Canadian Immigration recognizes for an application.