Immigrating to a new country is a daunting task for, well, anybody. Immigrating to a new country as a member of the LGBTQ community brings with it a whole range of additional considerations though. If your chosen destination is Canada, then you’re blessed with a legal system that, in theory, offers the LGBTQ community equal rights and stipulates harsh penalties for discrimination. However, in practice, there are still a wide variety of additional obstacles faced by LGBTQ people not faced by their heterosexual counterparts. Here, we look at some advice to immigrating to Canada safely as a member of the LGBTQ community.
Use an Experienced Immigration Law Office
The legal framework behind immigration is incredibly complex. Complicating matters further is the fact that online information is often hazy, contradictory, and unverified. Using an agency will reduce stress and make the process as straightforward as possible.
Applicants who navigate Canada’s visa system on their own have a far higher likelihood of being rejected or delayed. Many visa applicants who find that they’re rejected have typically been so due to insignificant, though, impactful clerical errors. These include ticking the wrong box or not providing sufficient evidence. With government fees being non-refundable, it’s best to avoid paying thousands of dollars that you may not get back.
Immigration lawyers in Canada are qualified legal professionals and often specialize in specific fields of migration. Firms like Battista Smith Immigration Law Group are experts in the field of LGBTQ immigration to Canada and can quickly, efficiently, and safely get your application on track to success.
Refugee Status Based on Sexual Orientation or Identity
Since 1991, Canada has offered refugee status to those fleeing persecution due to their sexual orientation, one of the first Western countries to do so.
Pervasive homophobia, transphobia, and discriminatory legislation are key reasons that members of the LGBTQ community flee to Canada. If you face persecution or discrimination of this nature in your home country, then Canada is an ideal location to seek refuge. In general, refugee status is claimed once within Canada. Once you arrive on Canadian territory, you can apply for refugee status. If you do not have the application package, a border official can provide you with one.
If you’re eligible for a refugee claim, you’ll be summoned to a hearing where your claim will be accepted or rejected. During the interim between your arrival and your hearing, you’re able to work or study.
Similar to its progressive refugee policy, Canada was one of the first countries to extend equal spousal / de facto visa rights to both heterosexual and homosexual relationships. This legislation has been in place in 2002 and applies to three kinds of relationships: marriage, common-law partners, and conjugal partners. Although it’s important to abide by the same-sex partnership visa rules carefully to avoid any kind of messy visa mishaps.
Married same-sex partners are eligible for a permanent resident visa if one person is a citizen or permanent resident of Canada. It doesn’t matter if the wedding took place in Canada or not, but you do need to provide a legal marriage certificate from the country you were married in.
Common-law and conjugal partners reflect two kinds of non-married same-sex partnerships. Common-law partners have lived in the same household for minimum one year and are financially tethered together. This can be through joint bank accounts or shared ownership of major assets such as a house. Conjugal partnerships refer to couples who are same-sex or opposite sex but cannot reside in the same household. A reason for this could include restrictive laws against homosexuality that forbid the partnership from living in the same dwelling, for example.
Additional Advice for LGBTQ People to Immigrate Safely
Even with Canada’s liberal track record regarding LGBTQ immigration, like anywhere, additional personal steps should be taken for your own safety.
Make sure that you share your itinerary and contact information with someone you trust before you leave. Having someone back home who knows your movements is always helpful.
Think about getting travel insurance before you go. This means that in the event of any kind of personal emergency (injury, missed flight etc) you’ll be covered.
Research on LGBTQ communities before you go. Try to get an idea of what neighbourhoods are more friendly to the queer community as well as nightlife and entertainment options.
Keep medical prescriptions with you. This is perhaps more relevant for the transgender community who are taking transitional medication. Ensure your medication is legal and accessible in Canada before entering the country to avoid an altercation at the border.
In conclusion, these are just some of the ways that you can immigrate to Canada safely and efficiently as a member of the LGBTQ community. Follow these steps, do your own research, and exercise a healthy bit of caution to avoid dangerous or costly mistakes.