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Proving your status as a common-law partner

Selin Deravedisyan, CRIC expert in immigration law at Phoenix GMI explains the steps and evidence to bring to the Quebec and Canadian governments to have your common-law status recognized. Discover the different points to know and to assert if you want to immigrate as a couple under a temporary work permit or a permanent residence.

You can also refer to our article on the recognition of the status of de facto spouse in Quebec to learn more.

Transcript of the video “Proving your common-law status to immigrate to Canada”.

“The question of the day today is to clarify what a common law spouse is.

When we talk about immigration, when the couple is married, the question does not arise, because you have the legal document that legalizes that marriage. And speaking of marriage, we agree, it is your relationship as a couple.

On the other hand, those who come and arrive here as workers, students or permanent residents, when we talk about common-law partners, you have to know what we are talking about.

Are we talking about your boyfriend-girlfriend? Or are we really talking about a de facto spouse relationship, in quotation marks?

And how do you prove that common-law status? Well, by papers, as usual. You simply have to have sufficient documentation to prove your common-law status.

And what do you have to prove, in fact, when you are a de facto spouse? Well, you have to prove, according to the immigration regulations, that you were living together as a couple for at least 12 months prior to your arrival in Canada.

What does that mean? It means that you lived together under the same roof, and of course in the same room. So if you were roommates, it doesn’t work, but if you lived together at the same address, then theoretically you are a common law spouse.

But I’m talking about theory, I’m not talking about reality. So for the reality, documents that will support your case: you will have to have a certificate completed, sworn by a lawyer, a notary, or someone who is duly authorized, and also show additional documents.

So it can be invoices, it can be life insurance.

Attention for the French, the PACS does not work. If you are in a civil union, it has no legal value here to demonstrate your status of de facto spouses.

Another important element also, for those who intend to come to Quebec and become permanent residents in Quebec. Do not forget that when you apply for a Quebec Selection Certificate and you are in a common-law relationship, you will also have to show documents.

So the first thing is that the person accompanying you, who is your spouse, must be in Quebec when you apply for the Quebec Selection Certificate.

What does this mean? It also implies that the person should be with you in Quebec for a minimum of 12 months before the date of application. And where it gets a little bit more complicated in relation to the federal side, as we saw earlier for the temporary status, it will be in relation to the types of evidence that you can put. So the famous certificate that you made for the federal side, the invoices and others that you presented to obtain work permits or study permits, it will not really work, and even not at all for some of them.

Why? Because Quebec will require that you can, as part of the application for your CSQ, bring in documents where both of your names are going to appear on them.

So if you are doing the invoices, try to have invoices where both your names appear. They should be invoices that are at least 12 months old and dated today, to show, of course, your relationship. And just to add a little bit more to the situation, make sure that the addresses are clearly indicated as well.

So when you have a bank account, don’t wait until the last month to open it to be able to present it as proof.

So, as soon as you arrive in Canada, in Quebec specifically, open your joint bank account right away, so it has to be a joint account, and then your banker can, for example, give you a certificate where both your names appear on it to prove your status as common law spouses.

So there are a lot of things to do. Of course if you need information, anything, you know who to contact.”

Selin Deravedisyan-Adam, CRIC

Phoenix GMI offers international recruitment and immigration services for Quebec and Canadian companies, and for candidates wishing to make a life project in Canada.

Our multidisciplinary, rigorous and dedicated team implements concrete and personalized strategies for its clients.

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Selin Deravedisyan-Adam Cofondatrice Directrice de l’immigration et experte-conseil en mobilité internationale

Selin Deravedisyan-Adam


Director of Immigration and International Mobility Consultant

[email protected]
514 903 9959 or
418 476 8381 #312

Selin’s career profile

A pioneer and passionate practitioner, Selin has dedicated her career to international mobility since 1993. Her extensive expertise and excellent reputation are rooted in her family history. As an immigrant herself, she moved from Turkey to France and later from France to Quebec. She was rapidly immersed in an administrative role, social work and linguistics that are specific to professionals who support immigration.

Married in France at the age of 20 to Christian, co-founder of PHOENIX-GMI, she moved to Sherbrooke in Quebec alongside her family in 1999. Later, she collaborated with the University of Sherbrooke’s Entrepreneurship Institute and was invited by the Ministry of Education to teach courses on how to start a business. At the same time, she developed her own company in international mobility, which became PHOENIX-GMI in 2013.

In 2008, Selin became a regulated Canadian immigration consultant and eventually obtained her license for the province of Quebec. She positioned herself as a reference in terms of statuses based on work permits both in Quebec and in Canada. Quebec International, a para-governmental organization working in the Quebec City and Chaudière-Appalaches region, hired her as an expert consultant, trainer, participant in consultation tables and strategic development agent with its members.

In 2018, she was elected President of the Canadian Association of Professional Immigration Consultants for the Quebec region. This new position brought her to work directly with federal and provincial immigration authorities while ensuring that the profession was ethically and effectively represented.

These days, she is continuously motivating her team towards excellence in international recruitment and immigration services, all the while realizing her life ambition of helping people from all over the world to experience a smooth and peaceful immigration and integration into Quebec society.

Christian H. Adam Cofondateur Directeur général et responsable du recrutement international

Christian H. Adam


Managing Director and Head of International Recruitment

514 903 9959 or
418 476 8381 #311

Christian’s profile

Christian’s career path has been remarkable. As a student of Armenian origin, he emigrated from Turkey to France where he pursued studies in chemical engineering. After a few years in the rubber industry, he gained great expertise in the field, started managing laboratories while traveling through Europe. He diversified his activities towards related sectors: automotive, military equipment and health.

In the troubled context of the Kosovo war in 1999 – a conflict which had repercussions throughout the whole of Europe – he chose to immigrate to Quebec with Selin, his wife (and the firm’s co-founder), as well as their children. There he started managing the research and development laboratories of two Sherbrooke-based companies, considered as leaders in the polymer industry. At the same time, he learned about human resources management and personnel administration in a unionized environment. Along with this flourishing career, he developed multicultural approaches then adapted them to specialized training in business launches and coaching of new immigrants.

Committed to support international mobility, Christian cofounded PHOENIX-GMI in 2013 and simultaneously launched a consulting firm in the rubber industry. From this moment onwards, he was solicited by clients throughout Quebec to oversee the recruitment of foreign candidates in various positions, ranging from production to product finishing and quality control measures.

These days, Christian works as an intercultural mediator. Excelling at implementing international recruitment solutions, he allows companies throughout Quebec to address their labor shortage problems, while helping many qualified foreign workers realize their dream of immigrating to Canada.