Unintended Consequences

October 30th, 2012

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has introduced a new regulation, which it hopes will deter people from scamming their way into Canada and at the same time benefit the victims of marriage fraud.

The new regulation applies to spouses or common-law partners, who, at the time they submit a sponsorship application, have been in a relationship of less than two years and have no children in common.

As of October 25, 2012 these sponsored spouses and common-law partners will be required to cohabit in a conjugal relationship with their sponsors for two years from the day they receive their permanent resident status in Canada. The permanent resident status may be revoked if the obligation is not met. Exemptions exist if the sponsored spouse or common-law partner can demonstrate that they have been the subject of abuse or neglect, or in the case of the sponsor’s death.

It is important to keep in mind that any system the government puts in place is subject to abuse. Unfortunately, that is the nature of the beast. Prior to the new regulation, the government shouldered the responsibility for preventing fraud of this kind by utilizing the considerable investigative and enforcement resources at its disposal. Additional responsibility fell upon the sponsor, who was (and still is) liable to repay the government for any financial assistance their spouse or common-law partner may receive for three years from the date that spouse or common-law partner becomes a permanent resident.

Under the new regulation, the government is abdicating its responsibility, or at the very least making its job a lot easier by shifting the burden of preventing abuse of the system onto the victims, be it the duped sponsor or the abused sponsored spouse.

Now, if the sponsor advises CIC that the relationship has fallen apart within the first two years in Canada, the assumption is that it was a marriage of convenience and the sponsored individual is subject to removal from Canada. Yes, the assumption can be overcome but the onus will be on the sponsored spouse to clearly demonstrate abuse or neglect by the sponsor. This is a serious shift in the burden of proof from the government onto the sponsored spouse or common-law partner.

As Janet Dench of the Canadian Council for Refugees has pointed out, the government’s efforts to deter marriage fraud are likely to have unintended negative consequences. More particularly, the new regulation will force innocent victims of domestic violence into staying with a domestic partner in order to maintain permanent resident status. Newcomers are often unaware of their rights and may not speak either of Canada’s official languages. They may be reluctant to get out of an abusive situation if their permanent residency ultimately rests on whether an immigration officer believes their story. Moreover, forcing a female divorcee to return home, depending on where home is, could negatively impact her social status.

Furthermore, the new rule fails to take into account that sometimes legitimate relationships, even between Canadians, just don’t work out. It’s not right to label a marriage as one of convenience just because it didn’t last for two years.

A few months ago, the government announced that Canadian Permanent Residents who were sponsored as a spouse or common-law partner cannot become a sponsor themselves until they have been a Permanent Resident for 5 years. Maybe we ought to leave it at that.

All things considered, it should remain the responsibility of the government to prove that a marriage is one of convenience. As for the Canadian sponsor…caveat emptor – buyer beware.

Previous Blog : Second-Class Families
Next Blog : If They Only Had a Heart…

9 Responses to “Unintended Consequences”

  • On October 31st, 2012, Gurdev Singh Bains said ...

    No doubt the system has been abused and government has to do something to stop or reduce abuse of system. New rules may reduce the abuse of system but certainly will increase the serious abuse of spouses in abusive relationships. Many spouses may not know about exceptions to the rule and for fear deporation may continue to suffer in silence. A matter of real concern and not a great way of stopping abuse of system.

  • On November 5th, 2012, CARMINE RENDINA said ...

    Thank you for all the information, I am sorry I couldn’t reply before, I hope I can obtain the necessary requisite to forward my application in the due time.


    Carmine Rendina

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

    I agree with this program will reduce the abuse of the syetem

  • On December 19th, 2012, Ifeanyi Urigwe said ...

    If anybody is really serious about stemming the tide of marriages of convenience, illegal immigration and human trafficking from anywhere at all to the rest of the world they must first start dealing with it from the source. Those immigrants were put in their positions because of several corrupt politicians who squandered their nation’s resources, forcing its citizens to look for means of survival in places where they do not exist. We have all seen these things. I have been there many times before. It formed my primary motivation for writing my book ‘Evicted from My Space’. (EBay and Amazon.com)

  • On December 31st, 2012, Anonymous said ...

    New regulations put in test and a very long term commitment from sponsored spouses. Its really unjust and against the laws of social freedom. If they really beleive into they should eliminate the current processing times to less than 6 months which are currently mounting to 31 months.

  • On January 9th, 2013, Anonymous said ...

    This is excruciatingly painful for the people who follows justice. What justice you`re doing Mr. Kenny to a newly married committed couple? Have you even think it in this way? You`re only hearting your own canadian people who voted for you to be in the `decision making hot seat`. Who pays the tax that makes your salary. So be courteous to people you owe. And make your fellow law following canadians happy by helping them bringing their spouse from their own country and community. It is their right that has been violated by this excruciatingly long waiting time to bring wife from back home.

  • On January 22nd, 2013, Anonymous said ...

    I have read what was said in all above comments. What type of rights does a sponsor with a partner that has not told the truth about their reason for being in a committed relationship which the sponsor had factual evidence of another relationship being had and the partner just got acceptance.

  • On May 8th, 2013, Edgar Goulet said ...

    101 % agree this will defiantly reduce the abuse of the system currently in practice. Thanks for sharing such a valuable information.

  • On June 17th, 2013, Fred Bloggs said ...

    There IS marriage fraud, the problem is the smart fraudsters know how to avoid getting caught. A friend was offered CAD$23,000 to marry a woman, sponsor her, and upon successfully landing he would get $15,000 with the balance if he helped with her filing and gained acceptance as a citizen. She kept a lot of clothes at his apartment, even offered to live with him (no, he said). and Immigration even visited and checked out their property. Passed with flying colours!

    , too, was offered $28,000 to sponsor a woman and her two children. I declined.

    I know a case where the Mother and Father are nearly eligible for citizenship (4 months), their daughter is a citizen. Their son remains in VietNam, and he is married to a Vietnamese born wife who is a medical professional and a citizen.

    Because Canada Citizenship haven’t a clue how business works in VN he is unable to produce books of account, VAT payment, bank statements, etc. VietNam is a cash economy – people don’t pay income tax!

    On the other side of the ledger was the case of the single Canadian male who met a Russian woman in a bar and after a short relationship, she became pregnant. H applied to sponsor her and the application was denied.

    He really rattled his MP’s cage and that of Immigration and they ‘re-examined’ his case and finally admitted her and the legally Canadian child.

    It was in all the papers in Toronto.

    They had fights, he suggested she manufactured them, and he was arrested for spousal abuse.

    Th woman filed for divorce and support. She won and now he has no child, no wife and a big monthly bill.

    She also scored her citizenship.

    So for a few nights in bed it cost the man a fortune,well as Canada as sh claimed benefits.

    So Immigration has reasons for challenging the validity of marriages.

Leave a Reply

Go to Blog Home Page