I'm a 22 year old gay man from Iran. I have a same-sex partner here who will soon immigrate to Canada. When he arrives there can he sponsor me for permanent residency? Iran is a dangerous place for gay men. I am afraid to ask the Canadian Embassy in Iran for information because it is so dangerous for gay men here.
Dear Waiting to Exile,
There's no doubt you're in an urgent situation, especially given the recent media attention over the hangings of gay youth in Iran. Of course, the anti-gay sentiment in Iran is no new thing, but the world seems to pay more attention to the violation of human rights if they can watch it on primetime with a beer and popcorn.
Nonetheless, we have to get you out of there so you and your partner can have a happy gay future. Gay couples should worry about things like paying bills or who's turn it is to drive or should they adopt kids, not whether they will be tortured or killed if their neighbor finds out that they're more than just roommates!
Here is the low down on Canadian immigration. Canada allows gay marriage and therefore sponsorship of gay partners for immigration purposes. Without knowing all of the detials of your partner's immigration status, I took a guess and assumed he was already in the process of being granted permanent residency. If that's the case, he can sponsor you as a common-law or conjugal partner under the following conditions: Sponsoring your same-sex partner as a spouse. If he is not a Canadian citizen yet, then he will need to obtain citizenship or permanent residency first, then sponsor you after you guys marry in a Canadian Province.
Immigration is a sticky situation even in a friendly country like Canada, so it's best to contact your local embassy. If you are uncomfortable revealing your sexuality in Iran (which I completely understand- the stakes are just too high), then I suggest you wait until your partner arrives in Canada. That way he can call the local CIC service line to ask if you qualify for sponsorship. It's also a good idea to contact the Canadian Citizenship and Immigration Office for citizenship requirements the fit your specific situation.
Another option to be with your partner is to apply for refugee protection in Canada. Sure, you have to sit in a holding tank for a couple of days, but it beats a cell in your homeland.
Canadian marriages are recognized in any province within the country. However, it's a general rule of thumb that a gay marriage is only legally recognized in the country where it was performed. This is not a hard and fast rule, though. Different countries that allow same-sex marriage may recognize your gay marriage from Canada whereas others may not. If a country does not have legal gay marriage, then they usually will not recognize a foriegn gay marriage (as is the case with the United States).
So go and live a happy gay life in Canada! Enjoy the culture, positive gay lifestyle and that cute game with the tiny bowling ball (Canucks, I await your email responses). Make contacting the CIC service center your first priority. Get there, get married and then apply!
Your gay friend,
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