Spousal Sponsorship Meeting on “Marriages of Convenience” for Preventing Sponsorship Fraud

Spousal Sponsorship horror stories heard by immigration minister

Over Halloween weekend, Canadian Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney hosted a meeting in Montreal to discuss preventing “marriages of convenience” for immigration reasons in Canada.

The meeting was the third such meeting on immigration held by the Minister, who has been meeting with various communities across Canada throughout the month to discuss preventing abuses of Canada’s immigration system.

In the past, arranged marriages have been used as a means to obtain status in Canada, and the marriage soon ends and the parties go their separate ways once one spouse enters the country fraudulently. The media has been filled with stories all year about people who have married outside of the country and brought their spouse into Canada only to have them disappear, or other cases where Canadians sponsor spouses from other countries who leave them soon after. In one case, the sponsor had been left having to financially support their ex-spouse even though the law says the sponsored spouse needs to leave the country once sponsorship is revoked.

One key problem for the government is distinguishing between fraud and arranged marriages that are part of certain cultures, and the government has mentioned that they’d like to make it clear they are not targeting those legitimate arranged marriages – only those meant to defraud Canada’s immigration system.

“I want to personally hear people’s stories related to marriages of convenience and their opinions and ideas on how best to address this issue,” said Kenney, “while we want to keep the doors open for legitimate spouses or partners, we also want to make sure the doors are not open to those who would break our laws and exploit Canadians.

Online consultations and information collected at these meetings will be used by the government to come up with an action plan.

My take?

There is nothing is wrong with preventing MOCs but I have seen over the years, overzealous Visa officers refuse legitimate spousal sponsorship applications on the suspicion that the marriage was entered into for primarily for  immigration purposes. It is not easy to evaluate whether a case is for real or not. However, it is essential to understand that just because a partnership does not conform to the standard, usual picture of what a  legitimate courtship should be, does not necessarily mean its an MOC. I wonder weather the Minsiter had that discussion during his meetings? I hope so.

Have a question about Spousal Sponsorship? Contact Niren and Associates immigration law firm.

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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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