In the past year, nearly every aspect of daily life has been in some way impacted by COVID-19. Unfortunately, the impact is not limited to mundane occurrences, but has also influenced significant life events from job searches to attending traditional family gatherings. Regrettably, these limitations have also changed the way Canadian immigration law has approached virtual wedding ceremonies.
Facing incredible distances and regulations around social gatherings, many couples have chosen to pursue a virtual wedding. Whether the wedding is handled over popular online communication platforms such as Zoom, Skype or Microsoft Teams, or completed through a representative proxy, couples are now finding that immigration law might be working against them.
What does it mean to be physically present?
The main distinction is that according to the Immigration Refugee Protection Regulations, couples must be physically present at their marriage ceremony to be considered for spousal sponsorship. This language was likely included originally to curtail fraudulent ceremonies but has remained unchanged in light of the global pandemic. Even though virtual marriages have seen a dramatic spike in popularity, the stance of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is unaffected.
In a general sense, participation in a virtual ceremony can be accomplished through a video platform, over the phone or, in some cases, by fax. In a proxy wedding, one or both of the parties who cannot be physically present are represented in person by another individual at the ceremony.
Family immigration can be a complex topic with numerous rules, regulations and caveats. It is wise to seek the guidance of an experienced legal professional to advise you on your options. Do not hesitate to schedule a consultation to learn what steps can be taken to reach your status goal.