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As an immigrant who is going through family issues or separation, it is very important to understand your rights and responsibilities under Family Law and Immigration Law. Many immigrants who have been sponsored by a spouse or a partner, arrive in Canada under the family class sponsorship. Unfortunately, many spouses who have been sponsored believe that they have no rights during the sponsorship period. They might be in an abusive relationship and based on their belief, they think that they must live with their abusive sponsor throughout the sponsorship period. It is very important to know that a permanent resident or a Canadian citizen can leave an abusive partner and her/his status in Canada will not be affected by that decision alone.

Also, it is very common to confuse immigration concepts with family law. For examples: concepts such as spousal and child support and financial undertakings under sponsorship agreements, might seem very similar, but they are completely different.

Another example is the definition of  “spouse”. Under the Family Law, a spouse is defined as “a) a person who is married to another, or b) has lived with another person in a marriage-like relationship for a period of at least two years or has lived in a marriage-like relationship (with no specified duration), if they have a child together. Under the Immigration Law, a common-law spouse is an individual who is cohabiting with the person in a conjugal relationship, having so cohabited for a period of at least one year. As you can see the duration of marriage-like relationship is longer under Family Law. You could be considered spouses under immigration law but not under Family law.

Are you an immigrant who is going through family issues? Are you confused how/ where to handle your divorce and family issues? Do you just want to know your rights and responsibilities?

If you want a complete answer to all your questions and the best strategy to proceed with your issue,  Elgin Cannon & Associates at 604-683 5959.

Christopher Elgin has been a member of the British Columbia bar since January of 1988. He worked for the Immigration and Refugee Board as a legal advisor to the Board members for over three years and in 1993 he opened his own immigration law practice. In 1995, he joined forces with Douglas Cannon, another immigration…

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