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Foreign Marriage in Canada

Updated: December 8th, 2022

Canada encourages families to stay together. Having a support system in the form of a spouse or partner can make Canada feel more at home. However, you may have questions about the recognition of your marriage, or if you’re planning to marry in Canada. It depends on several factors, so here’s everything you need to know about foreign marriage in Canada

Foreign Marriages That Are Recognized in Canada

With regard to marriage, the federal and provincial governments share constitutional authority. The federal government has broad legislative authority over issues related to divorce as well as aspects of marital capacity or who is legally allowed to marry whom. The provinces are in charge of making the laws governing marriage ceremonies.

Marriage is not a requirement for immigration by IRCC. However, they must be common-law partners if they are not married. Neither planned common-law partners nor fiancé(e)s are covered under the IRPA. Before submitting sponsorship and immigration applications, it is expected that a Canadian or permanent resident and a foreign citizen will wed or establish a common-law partnership.

For immigration reasons, a marriage that occurred outside of Canada must be recognized as lawful under both Canadian federal law and the laws of the country where it occurred. In Canada, a marriage is often recognized if it is recognized as lawful by the local laws of the location where it took place, although applicants are required to provide documentation to support this claim.

Some marriages might not be legal where they took place (for example, a flaw in the law regarding who can marry whom, a marriage performed in an embassy that is not recognized by the host country, or religious restrictions on the type of ceremony allowed), but they would still be recognized in Canada. Officers should explain to the applicant that they are not eligible to be a spouse since their marriage was illegal where they got married, but that if they marry in a different country where their union would be lawful, they could be eligible.

The sponsor and applicant may be processed as such if remarriage in another country is not possible, provided that their relationship is sincere and satisfies the criteria for either a common-law partner or a conjugal partner.

If You Are a Canadian Citizen or Permanent Resident:

Most legal marriages done outside of Canada are recognized here and do not require registration.

You could become a citizen of another nation just by marrying someone who is from there. Your Canadian citizenship won't be impacted by this, but your chosen nation could not recognize it, which could make it difficult for Canadian consular officials to assist you.

If you intend to get married abroad, get in touch with the embassy, high commission, or consulate of the nation where the wedding will take place that is closest to you. They'll let you know what paperwork you need and whether it has to be validated. If you want legal advice, Canadian government offices overseas can also give information on local laws and regulations as well as a directory of local service providers.

Even though same-sex unions are legal in Canada, many nations do not recognize them. Same-sex civil partnerships are more frequently accepted.

Marriage Search Letter

The authority in charge of registering weddings in the province or territory where you reside issues a marriage search letter. Whether or if you have registered a marriage there will be confirmed by this document. Before you may be married, certain nations may need you to submit a verified marriage search letter.

Affidavit of Single Status

A single status affidavit is a declaration that you are single that you swear in front of a notary or other authorized official.

Certificate of No-Impairment for International Marriage

The absence of obstacles to a planned marriage or civil partnership is attested by a certificate of non-impediment to marriage abroad. None of these certificates are issued by Canada. We can substitute a statement for the certificate of non-impediment to foreign marriage instead.

Marital Fraud or Crime

An increasing number of Canadian nationals are victims of fraud or criminality overseas, including international marriages. Canadians have fallen victim to cyber-romance scams, been extorted by foreign in-laws, or been misled into supporting a spouse who leaves after arriving in the country. If this occurs to you, you should retain the services of a marriage law specialist. A list of legal representation in the relevant nation can be obtained from staff at the closest Canadian consulate overseas.

Getting Married While Travelling in Canada

Yes, you can get married in Canada while you're a visitor or on a temporary visa. You don't have to be a citizen or permanent resident of Canada.

You will still need to fulfill the conditions set forth by the province in which you decide to wed. Every province has its own specifications.

Both of you must comply with the province's eligibility standards if you decide to be married in Ontario. As follows:

  • Both of you must be older than 16 years old. You can get married if you're under 18, but your parents or legal guardians must provide their written authorization.
  • You can wed a man or woman of the same sex as you. Since 2003 and 2005 throughout the entire country of Canada, same-sex weddings (marriages between two men or two women) have been lawful in Ontario.
  • Close relatives by blood or adoption are not permitted (grandparent-grandchild, parent-child, brothers-sisters).
  • To get married, both of you must be there in person. No marriages may be performed through phone, webcam, or proxy.
  • Both of you must not be married right now. When you apply for a marriage license, you must provide evidence of your divorce if you are divorced.
  • You will still need to obtain a marriage license and certificate in order to wed in Canada.

Spousal Sponsorship in Canada

A Canadian citizen or permanent resident may sponsor their spouse to immigrate to Canada and establish a permanent residence. In Canada, we are aware of the value of intact families.

If you are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident and meet the requirements below, you may be qualified to sponsor your spouse, conjugal partner, or common-law partner.

To be eligible to sponsor a spouse of common-law partner, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age.
  • Live in Canada or intend to do so after your spouse or partner is admitted as a permanent resident.
  • be able and willing to meet your spouse's or partner's basic needs for three years.

Immigrate to Canada with Your Spouse

It’s most likely that if you have a legal marriage in Canada, you can immigrate together. You can also apply for sponsorship after you arrive, even if you’re not married, but you can prove you’ve been living as partners for at least a year. If you’re unsure of the policies surrounding foreign marriage in Canada, contact a consultant today


When I Marry a Canadian, Do I Become a Citizen of Canada?

No. You cannot get citizenship by marrying a Canadian citizen. You must take the same processes as everyone else to become a citizen of Canada. The spouses of Canadian citizens do not go through a particular procedure.

Is My Overseas Union Recognized in Canada?

Most legally consummated marriages done outside of Canada are recognized here and do not require registration. You could become a citizen of another nation just by marrying someone who is from there.

What is The Processing Time for a Canadian Spouse Visa?

Applications for sponsorship go through the entire processing cycle in around a year. Normally, they don't take much longer than a year to process, but it depends on the specifics of your case. Learn more about processing times depending on the visa you applied for.

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