Blog > 2011 > What’s Love Got to Do with It?

What’s Love Got to Do with It?

October 31st, 2011

The newspaper headline read “Ottawa Moves to Curb Marriages of Convenience” and I thought to myself “that is going to be one tall order.” But as I continued the article it became clear that our government does not intend to control all marriage arrangements. Wealthy geezers and their trophy wives can breathe a sigh of relief for it is only phony love-matches involving Canadian immigration that our lawmakers aim to stamp out. To this end, the Minister of Immigration will soon announce a new “conditional” immigration status for sponsored spouses and common law partners in an effort to curtail marriage fraud. As it stands now, they arrive in Canada as permanent residents and the Minister feels their status makes it more difficult to deport them if it is later found that they lied in their bid to come to Canada.

Under the proposed regulations couples will have to prove that they have lived together for a defined period (two years or more according to the Minister) after arrival in Canada before the sponsored spouse gains permanent resident status. In my opinion, this new American-styled conditional visa will cause more harm than good.

The first thing to realize is that no fraud prevention system is infallible. Any process that has legal Canadian residency as its outcome is going to be the target of abuse, at least to some extent. At the present time we rely upon visa officers and intelligence officials at Canadian missions abroad to weed out fraudulent applicants and to uncover sophisticated schemes. From the accounts I’ve read they do an excellent job and if more of them are needed to control the fraud then that is where our limited resources should go. It will prove more cost effective to wage this fight before these con artists reach our shores. The government will tell us that they now plan to fight schemers both inside and outside of Canada, but human nature being what it is, more applicants about whom visa officers have doubts will be granted entry to Canada given that another line of defence supposedly exists. Remember that it costs a lot more to try and remove someone from Canada than to refuse them entry in the first place. Consider that the new regulations will supposedly contain an escape clause from the cohabitation requirement in the case of abuse. This will inevitably lead to a “he said, she said” fiasco that in the end will benefit mostly the lawyers. And what about the young bride who feels she has to tolerate an abusive relationship for a number of years because her spouse threatens to have her deported if she gets out of line? You want more complications? Canadian children might become part of the picture. Needless to say, enforcement officers and the courts will have their hands full.

There are two kinds of fraudulent schemes that occur. The first type usually involves cash and must have a willing Canadian co-conspirator as the sponsor in order to succeed. The government does not need to change the existing regulations in order to stop this illegal activity. Simply, increase the penalty on conviction to something closer to the U.S. model of a $250,000 fine and five year imprisonment. Publicize this well and watch the would-be Canadian participants vanish.

The second type of fraud involves unwitting Canadian sponsors and will likely prove more difficult to eradicate under the current law. In this scenario the unsuspecting Canadian gets taken advantage of by the sponsored spouse, who bolts the relationship soon after the coveted permanent resident card is obtained. These situations run the gamut; from culturally accepted arranged marriages to the lovestruck paunchy middle aged guy who believes that the young beautiful Eastern European babe whom he connected with online really wants to settle down with him in Sudbury. No doubt these relationships come with sadness for the Canadian sponsor. This is especially the case because sponsors sign an undertaking, valid for 3 years, in which they agree to reimburse the government in the event that their sponsored spouse ends up on welfare.

Still it makes more sense to beef up the existing safeguards than to embark on a new program that will surely cost significantly more to administer. Bringing the heavy lifting to Canada will only exacerbate tensions that already exists between Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the Canada Border Services Agency. I say punish corrupt Canadians meaningfully and educate naive Canadians about the potential pitfalls of spousal sponsorship. After that … buyer beware. Those who choose to engage in risky behaviour can’t expect the government to spend more taxpayers’ money than is necessary in order to extricate them from their precarious circumstances

In the end, I’ll be surprised if the new regulations don’t come into force. For the government the optics are too good to pass up. The regulations appear to fit with the Conservatives’ tough on crime agenda. Their core supporters will applaud any effort to straighten out the crookedness they perceive everywhere in the immigration system. And finally, the government gets to curry favour with some of the cultural communities, whose  votes they very much desire.

Just don’t say  I didn’t tell you so.



 
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22 Responses to “What’s Love Got to Do with It?”

  • On October 31st, 2011, Freddy Sudbury said ...

    What is better she/he will file divorce after 1 week or 3 years?

  • On November 1st, 2011, Anonymous said ...

    Suppose one qualifies to come to Canada with already wedded official wife, is it a crime?

  • On November 1st, 2011, Leann Zarah said ...

    I understand that the Canadian government wants to protect its citizens from being duped by “unscrupulous others” who are using the intimate relationship option to leave an impoverished life. However, it takes two to tango. Plus, as what David Cohen asserted, “…no fraud prevention system is infallible.” People have always produced goods, programs, laws, and whatever that are flawed because they themselves are flawed.

    What’s saddening is there are those who have made relationships a form of capital, a business of and for survival. There’s always the benefit of the doubt though. What if the “scheming wishful” and the sponsoring party have changed their mind about each other once they’re in Canada? What if their relationship becomes abusive while cohabiting? Would the Canadian government give more credence to the spousal visa than to the dynamics of being in a relationship whether it’s genuine or not?

    It’s better to educate people about the pros and cons of being involved in a long-distance relationship, both online and offline. Treat adults as capable decision makers who can deal with the consequences of their choices. There are far more serious issues like unemployment, alcoholism, homelessness, and violence, etc. that deserve the government’s attention and resources.

  • On November 1st, 2011, Anonymous said ...

    what if a married couple REALLY loves each other ??

  • On November 1st, 2011, Lesley said ...

    This actually frightens me because my husband and I are not a fraudlent couple. We’ve been together since 2003, we are married, we have a child and now that Greece is in the financial trouble that it is, we cannot get jobs and are moving back to Canada where my family are. So that means we will be penalized now because of so many other people commiting fraud? Isn’t it bad enough that my husband cannot work for up to 1 year until he is a permanent resident? Is it not better to allow them to work legally which shows willingness to reside in the country and NOT sponge off the government and tax payers? But as always, the ones that do things legally and of course all legit, will suffer. So if we have to prove that we are living together for 2 years or more after he arrives in Canada before gainin permanent residence status – does that mean he cannot work during that time at all? What kind of backwards scheme is that? I am very angry at this new process. The only people that will hurt from this are legit couples like my husband and myself.

  • On November 1st, 2011, David Cohen said ...

    I understand your concerns but I would be very surprised if your husband could not work during his conditional status. I’m guessing that he would also be entitled to provincial healthcare, but we won’t know for sure until the new regulations are published, sometime next year. I’m sure life is no picnic for you in Greece these days. You will be better off back in Canada. Time to come home.

  • On November 1st, 2011, Rani said ...

    I have seen a lot of cases around me, Someone who is actually in lov and are true to eachother has to wait for 4/5 years and at end get rejected. Frauds are granted visas’s. What happen to those who wants to live together ? And what happen to those to marry eachother just for money – am sure they will wait 2 or 5 years to get PR card. This is never ending story. Matter is proper interview frm the couple. BOTH – to know how well they know eachother and how comfortable they are with eachother.

  • On November 1st, 2011, Bakarh said ...

    Will we ever be a world citizen ? Social behaviors are never science but its controls are always laws .. this is where it conflicts always ..and we keep on running after peace endlessly till our last day on this earth .
    What do we really want ?

  • On November 3rd, 2011, Anonymous said ...

    Leaders across the world should do things that will make their countries better for their citizens, then can the ‘better’ countries be at ‘peace’.

  • On November 3rd, 2011, Anonymous said ...

    After being married to an immigrant (now Canadian citizen) for 6 years and together for 8 years every individual has to make a choice and be accountable for that choice. Luckily, I have found that most marriages are valid within my social and professional circles and that such fraud remains the exception and not the rule. The last time I checked Canadians could only marry one wife at a time… What about doing something about citizens of convenience and letting individuals be accountable for their actions?

  • On November 5th, 2011, Anonymous said ...

    I have been in a relationship with my husband for 4 1/2 years and almost married for 2 yrs. He was denied his visa due to Marriage of Convenience. Visa officer wouldn’t let him speak at his interview and now we’re going through hell with having an ADR this past Aug. that will now go to a full court hearing so they can re-interview him over the phone. My point is, when the officer’s are wrong why do we as a genuine couple have to be punished and wait 2 yrs with the back log of the system? If the new Conditional Visa goes through, will that include those of us that are in limbo waiting for a hearing? There must be a better way, because it’s not always the applicant at fault during these interviews. The officers can say and do whatever they want and there’s not a damn thing we can do about it!

  • On November 9th, 2011, Anonymous said ...

    Hi
    I have been married to my husband from Morocco ( Casablanca ) for almost 6 years and have been fighting for him >>>> but i do have one or a few questions ….. where does menopause come in a question about a relationship , why is age such a issue when my husband and i married because we love each other and why is it a big deal on Language because my husband and i communicate in eglish and always had been since we met …. oh and another question is why is that i had to have cateract surgery saying im not well in my health , my husband was refused and we are both so stunned still upto today , but since my appeal i have taken sick , almost lost my life and havent been able to travel, and also lost 3 members of my family all in a 2 year time and in that 2 year time i found out January 2009 i couldnt have my husband because with me . i would sure like some answers because we did nothing wrong but love eachother . please i need answers

  • On November 10th, 2011, Anonymous said ...

    I am Canadian and a professional in my field, who has been overseas for 12+years and have been common-law for almost 4 years. We have 30 years between us in age which matters not to us, but we have found that so many (Western societies only) pass uninformed judgement without considering the facts and the possibility it could be real. After being refused even for a 2-week vacation visa to come home last year, I are embarrassed that my own country who purports to be fair and reasonable and civilized can be so unable to distinguish between what is right and what is wrong. We applied for a tourist visa in Manila and we were not even allowed into the embassy to deposit the documents. They have a mandatory courier pickup system for documents so they never have to speak to you face to face. This is despicable that I, as a Canadian, cannot even plead our case in person. I knew the age difference and her heritage would be pre-judged and without being able to talk to someone, I knew we didn’t stand a chance. I would like to come home one day, but I just don’t have any confidence that the system will allow me and my family to come.

  • On November 12th, 2011, Anonymous said ...

    Thank you so much for bringing up this matter. . . I am a ChineseImmigrant & now a Canadian Citizen, I met my East Indian husband in Canada, knowing that he’s a tourist here, then we got married, live together as husband & wife for 2 1/5 years, then just run away, leaving me all the expenses including the mortgages. . therefore, Lady Chop Suey was used by Mr. Chicken Curry.. . .

  • On November 15th, 2011, PRse said ...

    At least Canada seems to have a heart. If u guys hear my story u would probably laugh or be puzzled…like how I have been for 13 yrs now. I come from an island where racial disharmony is often present n I am from the minorities. After completing my bachelors deg in ‘95, I came back home worked for about 2.5 yrs n then applied for PR in Australia. In 2001 I received news that my lawyer had absconded w his clients money leaving 67 of us in the lurch. The authorities told me I needed to reapply again. It was a lot of money but I thought back then it wAs worth it. After selling the flat, I got some money to reapply in 2008 under the skilled visa prog but in 2009 I was told by my migration consultant that the laws had changed (they change annually) and my job that I had applied under had been scraped off. So my CaSe Is now priority 5 – the lowest. My agent isn’t that optimistic but she told me my case might be heard in 2012. It’s been hard waiting like this n seeing asylum seekers, refugees and people who abuse the system just pass me by….and gain permanent entry to this country. I have no more feelings for Australia bec I’ve been hurt too much by a country that seems to regard highly people who have suffered trauma in their countries n give them permanent status. So in my home country as well as the Australian system have demonstrated to me I’m only a 2nd class citizen. So far, I’ve not heard of anythg like this happening in Canada. I hope to save up some money again to come here n do my bit. :) thanks

  • On November 21st, 2011, Anonymous said ...

    I am canadian and think the new law is great but only if the spouse can come and work and get health care etc. I feel this law will cut down on the skammers because they have to stay for two years and also they cant sponser another spouse for at least 5 years.If the marriage is ligitimate it will last. one more thing they should do let the spouse come in the same month like europe its horrible being apart and does put strain on a marriage and if anyone thinks its because you dont love each other only I invite them to stay away for one year or two years from their spouse and talk on the phone or net only and see how you feel at the end its is so so so so hard unbearable, depressing and I cry alot and my hubby gets moody and sad.There is two couples in my area one married from morroco and the other from India the morrocon one 7months after he arrived they separated but the canadian woman has had many men in the past we all new it wouldnt work and i wander why their process was accepted and in a short time they should have been refused the age difference too was almost 20 years difference and the other couple he was from india with 2 kids and her canadian and they was refused it took them a total of 3 years with immigration lawyers and its 3 years later they bought a home together and they are so happy together.I’m not sure some immigration person reading a stack of papers about you and one interview which you are so nervous in is the best way of deciding on ones whole life and if they are good or bad people obviously they are not always right and it destroys people lives we have alot of bad people in our own country who are unfaithful in huge numbers and no family values and no one seems to care in this country especially laws and govt so why do they care who we marry? If they are not criminals and have a good background check the rest is no ones business really but this new law helps and that is all is needed the rest should be illiminated.

  • On November 26th, 2011, Anonymous said ...

    I like the conditional visa but for two years I think is a bit short. I think that it should take 5 years to become a Citizen and change the laws that the PR regulations has an escape clause. If the sponsor is abusive then allow the PR to continue at the sponsors expense but if the PR is the abuser of the sponsor or the system then have a clause to kick them out of Canada with no appeal. ZERO tolerance should be the norm.

  • On December 1st, 2011, Anonymous said ...

    Fraud Scheme 1 (as described above): The price of coming to Canada will simply go up if the sponsor has to spend 2 years of his or her life with the so-called spouse. Marriage for profit will not stop…it will simply cost more in the underground market!
    Solution: As indicated above, increase the fines dramatically for Canadian citizens/permanent residents who engage in such fraud for profit, and publicize it!
    Fraud Scheme 2: The well intentioned sponsor will be put at an even greater disadvantage by the immigration- status-seeking spouse. Currently, if the spouse leaves shortly after arrival, the sponsor can contact CBSA and inform them of what has transpired. If pushed enough, CBSA will act, although the officers responsible for initiating such investigations are significantly under-resourced. The sponsor can get on with his/her life without wasting more time with the migrant who was intent on using them. Unfortunately, this newly proposed regulatory change will ensure that the immigration-seeking-spouse will spend an additional two years with the sponsor…and then leave. The sponsor will have given up two years of his or her life…and it will be much harder to prove fraudulent intent! Moreover, the sponsor may now have to deal with issues of family court, assets, etc…
    Solution: Fund MORE CBSA or CIC officers to investigate spouses where the sponsor alleges that fraud has taken place! If the sponsor’s claims can be substantiated, then strip the immigration-speaking-spouse of permanent residency. There is already a process set up for this!
    Minister Kenney’s proposed new regulation is NOT a solution!

  • On December 2nd, 2011, Anonymous said ...

    Is there a law that you can deport a contract worker who has a relationship with a married canadian citizen? There are lots of families that are being ruined because so many contract workers are pursuing married people just at the hope of having a child and remaining in Canada for the purpose getting permanent status. I know that there are lots of people out there that can relate with this experience.

  • On December 6th, 2011, Anonymous said ...

    In Egypt men the taxi drivers say three things, Canada, beautiful, visa and the whole world knows what a joke our spousal sponsorship is. From the day he or she arrives the new spouse can walk out, go on welfare, remarry etc etc without losing permanent residence status. This change is the only sensible solution to the real world, where some people will do anything for an easy visa. In my case I have been married for two years and believe it is a real marriage but the chance that things will change the day he steps off the plane, sometimes wakes me up in the middle of the night. All the responsiblity goes on the sponsor currently and all the rights on the sponsored person including should they demand, an apartment and furniture to their specification, dental and eye care none of which are handed over to regular citizens.

  • On January 21st, 2012, Anonymous said ...

    The law covers those that have fraudulent motives in getting into Canada. How about those couples who are truly and honestly in love and want to get married? I think the law should have conditions that are applicable to several cases and allow the legitimate ones to live together and be happy as a couple.

  • On June 28th, 2012, Anonymous said ...

    So true about our spousal sponsorship being a joke world-wide. Taxi drivers in Egypt – we must have had the same ones: “beautiful”, “Canada”, “marry”, “VISA!!”. The word is out, make no mistake, they know exactly what they can get from you once you arrive. There is even a consultant in Cairo who explains to men how to wait for the PR card before their run off from their stupid canadian wife.

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