Toronto: The Government of Canada has put in place a bar on sponsorship in an ongoing effort to deter people from using a marriage of convenience to come to Canada, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney announced this week.
Regulatory changes now in force mean sponsored spouses or partners will have to wait five years from the day they are granted permanent residence status in Canada to sponsor a new spouse or partner. Until now, a sponsored spouse or partner arriving in Canada as a permanent resident could leave their sponsor and sponsor another spouse or partner themselves, while their original sponsor was still financially responsible for them for up to three years.
“I held town hall meetings across the country to hear from victims of marriage fraud,” said Minister Kenney. “In addition to the heartbreak and pain that came from being lied to and deceived, these people were angry. They felt they had been used as a way to get to Canada. We’re taking action because immigration to Canada should not be built upon deceit.”
Minister Kenney was joined by representatives of Canadians Against Immigration Fraud (CAIF) at the announcement.
“We welcome the steps taken by the Honourable Jason Kenney to stop marriage fraud,” said Sam S. Benet, President of CAIF. “These measures will definitely protect the integrity of our immigration system.”
Spousal sponsorship is open to abuse when a person enters into a relationship – such as a marriage or a common law partnership – in order to circumvent Canada’s immigration law. Concerned with the problem, the Minister held online consultations in the fall of 2010 to gather public opinion and ideas on how to best address marriage fraud.
“Many of the people who took part in the consultations made it abundantly clear that marriage fraud poses a significant threat to our immigration system,” added Minister Kenney. “Our government has listened to the victims of marriage fraud and all Canadians, and acted to crack down on those who engage in fraud and abuse Canadians’ generosity and our immigration system.”
Barring such sponsorships is consistent with similar restrictions imposed by Australia, New Zealand and the United States.
The proposal for a five-year sponsorship bar was prepublished in the Canada Gazette on April 2, 2011, and was open for a 30-day public comment period. The changes coming into force on March 2, are posted on Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s website and will be published in Part II of the Canada Gazette on March 14, 2012.
To show it is serious about cracking down on marriage fraud, CIC is taking a number of steps to deter it. For example, in addition to the sponsorship bar, further public consultations are also expected to begin in the coming weeks on a proposed conditional permanent residence measure. A Notice of Intent proposing the development of this conditional measure was published in the Canada Gazette on March 26, 2011. The measure aims to deter people in newer relationships from using their relationship to gain quick entry to Canada as permanent residents when they have no intention of staying with their sponsor.