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Immigration Newsweek

Immigration Newsweek


By Atty. Henry Moyal


Q. I came to Canada as a permanent resident in 2017. I was a dependant of my mother’s application for permanent residence under the skilled worker application.

Just before coming to Canada I met my girlfriend and she became pregnant. I returned to the Philippines this year and married her. I was only given two weeks vacation from my job in Canada so the marriage was rushed. In fact, there was no time to obtain a marriage licence and therefore the Reverend issued a marriage licence under Article 34 of the Family Code of the Philippines.


I am now back in Canada and my consultant told me to simply attach a letter of explanation to my sponsorship application to explain that I was in a hurry and had no time to get a license.


The marriage certificate is issued with the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) and I have the official original copy.


Is this a problem?



A. Absolutely yes. There are two big problems. One is that the immigration consultant has no idea what they are talking and is not licensed to practice immigration law. Stay away and only hire a professional lawyer who (a) not only has immigration experience but (b) a lawyer with knowledge of Filipino laws. I find it disturbing that this person would suggest that a “letter of explanation” will make it all go away.

That is not going to help you and may actually result in your deportation.


The second big problem is that your “official” marriage certificate under Article 34 is likely null and void. By law, a marriage celebrated without a valid marriage license is null and void, unless the contracting parties are exempt from this requisite (Articles 4 and 35(3), Family Code of the Philippines).

One of the exceptions mentioned ( in other words a marriage license is not required) is if the parties cohabited for 5 years or more as “husband and wife” before the marriage. This is clearly provided by Article 34 of the Family Code of the Philippines which states:


“Art. 34. No license shall be necessary for the marriage of a man and a woman who have lived together as husband and wife for at least five years and without any legal impediment to marry each other. The contracting parties shall state the foregoing facts in an affidavit before any person authorized by law to administer oaths. The solemnizing officer shall also state under oath that he ascertained the qualifications of the contracting parties and found no legal impediment to the marriage.”


You mentioned that you married this year. So if you marriage was based on the fact that you lived together from 2013 to 2018, then that means that you lived together as common law partners before your landing of 2017.


Again, this raises two more big problems:


  • 1) It is not true. You have stated that you only met in 2017 so it is not possible that you lived together from 2013 onwards.

Since you did not actually cohabit with your spouse prior to your marriage, you were not exempt from obtaining the required marriage license. Therefore, the said marriage is null and void in the absence of a valid marriage license.

  • 2) Second, if you were in a common law relationship before landing you were required to disclose it to Canada Immigration. You likely declared “single” on your mother’s application as a dependent child. But according to your marriage certificate you were in a common law relationship. Such a lie may lead to misrepresentation and deportation.

In my experience, the above analysis will be uncovered by Canada Immigration so best to not file any sponsorship at this time and obtain professional assistance to resolve the issue.


Attorney Henry Moyal is a certified and licensed immigration lawyer in Toronto, Ontario.
The above article is general advice only and is not intended to act as a legal document.
Send questions to Attorney Moyal by email or call 416 733 3193