Immigrant Sponsors Debt Ruling Requires Provincial Government to Act Fairly

Immigrant sponsors not required to pay back debts that aren’t theirs

A landmark ruling by the Ontario Court of Appeal held that Immigrant Sponsors are not automatically required to pay back immigrant debt of the relatives they sponsored despite having signed an immigrant Sponsors Agreement. Rather the Province now has to proceed with the debt collection of Sponsors in the same manner, with the same measure of fairness, as with other government debt scenarios. This means that the government must take into account the full context of the situation of the immigrant sponsors and treat each debt collection on a case-by-case basis.

Despite the somewhat overstated headline in today’s National Post by Natalie Alcoba, the Court’s ruling does not mean that immigrant sponsors are “off the hook” when it comes to sponsorship dept collection. The government will still require that, in most cases immigrant sponsors will have to pay back the money their relatives collect from the government. However, with his ruling, the government has to exercise discretion in the collection process.

Landmark ruling for immigrant sponsors

This ruling  is a welcome change. Not a free pass. Cases where, for example, spouses are sponsored from overseas only to leave the matrimonial home days after arrival, suggest possible “immigrant fraud” on the part of the relative who used the immigrant sponsor to get Canada. Such cases require a degree of fairness and compassion on the part of the government in the debt collection process. Many well meaning, unsuspecting immigrant sponsors are indeed taken advantage of by savvy suiters who promise love and companionship. Months or days later after arriving, bags are packed along with a new Canadian Permanent Resident Card.

They say “love is blind” . Well, if this is true, then its true for immigrant sponsors. Fairness not forgiveness should be the order of the day. Remember that immigrant sponsors are Canadians and Permanent Residents and should be afforded the same level of understanding that the rest of us have come to expect when being asked to pay back our debts.

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Michael Niren

About Michael Niren

Michael is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section and the Associate Member of the American Bar Association. Read more

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  • monica

    My husband and I applied for parental sponsorship and the application is going through its final stage. Can my husband and I consolidate our loans and debts in Canada or will this have bad effects on the parental sponsorship application?


    • Hi Monica,

      If you and your husband declares bankruptcy, you won’t qualify as sponsors anymore.

  • michael d

    I just want to ask something regarding a case which was happened last year. My friend arrived in Canada last July 2008 and was released by his employer last October 2008 and found home care job through the help of an illegal recruiter. What happened is that this company (home care) forced him to work without LMO (Approval from Service Canada) and without a work permit. This company told him that he was allowed to work while LMO was in process which is not true. The saddest thing is they didn’t even file his LMO until Canada Immigration found out about all this and gave him a voluntary departure from Canada. He is now in his own country, the Philippines. Is there still a chance that he can go back to Canada with any visa application?

    • What you are describing is an all too common occurrence. Your friend was a victim of fraud. He can certainly attempt to apply for a Temporary Resident Visa to Canada again overseas but given his negative immigration history (voluntary departure request) it is unlikely the Canadian Embassy will grant him a Visa again. It may be a good idea, if he tries, to provide a FULL explanation about what happened to him.

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