Puerto Vallarta Canadian Immigration Lawyer Ivan Steele

You are a Canadian who traveled to Puerto Vallarta or elsewhere in magical Mexico for a vacation and fell in love with a local. Life is good, and love is blossoming, but the idea of physical distance is starting to cause you both some anxiety. You are planning your next steps. This brief overview is a stating point for Canadian citizens and permanent residence who are considering sponsoring their Mexican spouse or common-law partner. 


About Ivan Steele Law  – Canadian Immigration and Family Lawyer in Puerto Vallarta 


Ivan Steele is a Canadian (Toronto-based) immigration and family lawyer who shares his time between Ontario and Puerto Vallarta and provides Canadian legal services in English and Spanish in both Canada and Mexico. As such, he is eminently equipped to assist Canadian residents and citizens with their Canadian immigration, family law and estate needs. From spousal sponsorships, visitor visas, and study permits to marriage contracts (prenups) and wills, Ivan Steele’s 15 years of legal expertise offer Canadians and their Mexican family members a unique service in both Puerto Vallarta and Canada.


Puerto Vallarta Gay and Lesbian Immigration 


Dating applications and the ease of international travel mean that every year, thousands of Canadians fall in love with citizens of other countries. Puerto Vallarta’s reputation as a magical, gay-friendly Mecca within Mexico means that a lot of these life-changing connections take place here. Partner sponsorship to immigrate to Canada can be a complex area and each situation is unique. Seeking legal advice early on from an immigration lawyer that specialized in spousal sponsorships to Canada, and that is also intimately familiar with the Mexican social norms, government regulations and systems is invaluable.


If you are a Canadian citizen with a foreign (Mexican) fiancee, spouse or common-partner, you must meet the eligibility criteria and follow Canada IRCC’s spousal sponsorship immigration rules to bring your partner to Canada. Often, Canada’s economic migration programs are too rigid and unkind to potential applicants for permanent residence, unless they have high education, plenty of skilled work experience, the right age and speak advanced English or French.  This is why,  Family Class Applications are a better way for a permanent resident or citizen of Canada to sponsor their spouse or common-law partner to immigrate to Canada.


There are three main categories of immigration for romantic partners who are citizens of other countries, such as Mexico:


  • Spousal Sponsorship
  • Common-Law Sponsorship
  • Conjugal Sponsorship

Planning Your Immigration Process – Applying for Permanent Residence as a Spouse


If you are planning on bringing your Mexican fiancee, spouse or a common-law partner to live with you in Canada permanently, they will need to apply for Canadian permanent residence. This process can be completed from outside Canada or inland. Choosing the right process is crucial since the applications cannot be changed from inland to outland, once filed. At Ivan Steele Law, we will help you select the best way forward, keeping in min your financial, emotional and practical considerations.


Same-Sex Marriage in Mexico and Canada 


Many counties either don’t recognize same-sex marriages or are outright hostile to LGBT population. Despite its often traditional culture, Mexico is an exception within Latin America. The existence of legal same-sex marriage in Mexico is a great advantage for Canadian immigration law purposes, as it allows couples to formalize their relationship and apply on this basis for permanent residence.


By court order, all states in Mexico either allow the performance of same-sex marriages or recognize such marriages when performed in other states. Same-sex marriage is performed without court injunction in Mexico City and in the 25 states of Aguascalientes, Baja California, Baja California Sur, Campeche, Chiapas, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Colima, Guanajuato, Hidalgo, Jalisco, Michoacán, Morelos, Nayarit, Nuevo León, Oaxaca, Puebla, Querétaro, Quintana Roo, San Luis Potosí, Sinaloa, Sonora, Tlaxcala, Yucatán and Zacatecas, as well as in certain municipalities in Guerrero. It is awaiting mandated legislation in Tamaulipas while several other states are considering legislation. Altogether, 71% of the Mexican population live in states and municipalities that perform same-sex marriage. In addition, courts in all states must approve marriage licenses for same-sex couples when petitioned to do so; as a result individual same-sex marriages have occurred in every state.


Proving the Existence of a Genuine Marriage / Relationship


A marriage certificate is often a necessary first step, but it’s only a beginning of the immigration process. A Mexican spouse does not automatically become a permanent resident of Canada. Just as heterosexual couples, gay and lesbian couples who are applying for permanent residence under family class must prove that the genuineness, conjugal nature and duration of their relationship. Unlike their straight counterparts, however, gays and lesbians may also be required to adduce evidence of their sexual orientation, if required by their personal history. Often, significant financial or familial pressures lead to gay or lesbian individuals marrying a spouse of the opposite sex early in life. The existence of a prior opposite-sex marriage may pose a unique challenge when a Canadian permanent resident or a citizen attempts to sponsor his or her same-sex partner in the future. In addition to requiring the evidence of the veracity of the present relationship, Canadian visa officers may raise concerns about one or both gay partners’ sexual orientation.


You will also need to provide proof of shared assets, travels, communications, meeting each other’s family, a honeymoon, etc. These and other factors help to prove that the marriage is genuine.  There are many other factors, which are particular to individual cases. You may be required to attend an interview with a visa officer and answer personal questions to help prove your relationship is genuine. If you are unable to get married, you may still qualify under a common-law partner category if you can prove cohabitation of one year or more anywhere in the world.
Spousal Sponsorship


If a Canadian citizen (or permanent resident) marries a foreign citizen and that citizen is at minimum 18 years old and is living with a Canadian citizen who is at minimum 18 years old in Canada, the spouse may apply for Spousal Sponsorship. The marriage must be legal in the country in which it was performed. The Canadian sponsor is not required to show a certain level of income, but cannot be on social assistance and has to be able to provide the basics for the spouse when he or she enters Canada. The Mexican or other foreign spouse will need to pass medical and criminal exams before being permitted to enter Canada.  If your medical condition is of concern to you, please talk to us.


Common-Law Sponsorship


Common-law sponsorship is the appropriate category for partners who are not married but have been living together continuously for at least one year in Canada or in Mexico (or elsewhere). You must be able to prove you are a genuine couple, committed to each other and have an exclusive relationship. Proof of a committed and exclusive relationship depends entirely on your unique circumstances. Shared assets, travel together, meeting each other’s families, traveling to each other’s countries all help. Document all the things you can that will help prove that your relationship is a genuine one. You will also have to swear a statement that you are a common-law couple, and you may have to attend an interview with a visa officer.



Find Ivan Steele Law in Puerto Vallarta:  Insurgentes 193, Zona Romántica, Emiliano Zapata, 48380 Puerto Vallarta, Jal., Mexico (Appointment Only)

Find Ivan Steele Law in Toronto: 176 Yonge St. 6th Floor, Toronto, ON M5C 2L7 (Appointment Only)


If you retain us to work on your case, you consultation is free of charge (we will deduct it from your overall legal fees). If your consultation is stand alone, it is $269.99 plus HST.

All our family law and immigration law consultations include a comprehensive meeting with Ivan Steele, Toronto / Puerto Vallarta family lawyer and immigration lawyer, who will provide you with a thorough assessment of your case and personalized legal advice. We will aim to provide you with a strategy, timeliness and creative solutions to your legal matter. Since our initial meetings are stand-alone, exhaustive and detailed reviews of your legal matter, we do not offer free consultations.


We have modified our business model in light of the lessons learned from COVID-19 crisis, in order to protect our environment and to take full advantage of the 21st-century technologies. For the foreseeable future, ALL client meetings will be conducted via Zoom/Skype/Facetime, unless specifically agreed upon otherwise. In person meetings in Puerto Vallarta are available between November 1 and May 15 of each year. Any originals or documents requiring signatures should be sent via post/courier, unless otherwise indicated. For the full scope of legal services offered for Canadians and their family members, please consult our main page. Some of our flat rate fees can also be found on our website, while more complex matters require an initial consultation.