The unmarried partner visa category is for those who are not legally married, but meet the definition of a partnership under Canadian immigration law. There are two types of partner visas that you may be eligible for, depending on your specific situation.
Common law (de facto) partner visas are for couples who have an ongoing, committed relationship, and have resided together continuously for a period of at least one year. The one year requirement can be satisfied in Canada or another country, as long as the sponsor has retained his/her Canadian citizenship or permanent resident status. The couple must demonstrate the existence of a bona fide, continuing relationship in order to qualify for a permanent residence visa to immigrate to Canada.
Conjugal partner visas are for those couples who are not married and do not live together, but have a committed and ongoing relationship that they intend to continue after the beneficiary has been granted an immigrant visa to Canada. This type of visa, however, may be more difficult to obtain than the others.
If your foreign partner lives outside of Canada, and you and your partner were unable to live together or marry due to extenuating circumstances, you may wish to apply for a conjugal partner visa. For this type of visa, you must prove that you were prevented from living together or marrying due to circumstances that were beyond your control. This could include an inability to obtain visas to travel to Canada or the foreign partner’s country, or the refusal of governments to recognize the legitimacy of same sex marriages or unions. The foreign partner may also live in a country where divorce is not permitted, so their marital status renders them ineligible for a Canadian spousal visa.
Despite living apart, you and your partner must still prove the existence of an exclusive, bona fide and ongoing relationship. You may be required to submit documents evidencing that you are sharing household bills, finances, and housing costs.
If you are able to secure a partner visa under the conjugal partner category, your partner will be granted permanent resident status, but you must live together for at least one continuous year to be granted the legal rights and privileges associated with common law status in Canada.