Mississauga, October 26, 2012 - In an ongoing effort to deter people from using marriages of convenience to cheat their way into Canada, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) introduced a new regulation that requires certain sponsored spouses live in a legitimate relationship with their sponsor for two years or they risk losing their permanent resident status.
"There are countless cases of marriage fraud across the country," said Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney. "I have consulted widely with Canadians, and especially with victims of marriage fraud, who have told me clearly that we must take action to stop this abuse of our immigration system. Sometimes the sponsor in Canada is being duped and sometimes it's a commercial transaction. Implementing a two-year conditional permanent residence period will help deter marriage fraud, prevent the callous victimization of innocent Canadians and help us put an end to these scams."
The new regulations apply to spouses or partners in a relationship of two years or less and who have no children in common with their sponsor at the time they submit their sponsorship application. The spouse or partner must live in a legitimate relationship with their sponsor for two years from the day on which they receive their permanent resident status in Canada. The status of the sponsored spouse or partner may be revoked if they do not remain in the relationship.
Minister Kenney was joined at today's announcement by representatives of Canadians Against Immigration Fraud (CAIF). Sam Benet, President of CAIF stated: "We applaud Minister Kenney for taking bold steps to address the growing problem of marriage fraud and for protecting the integrity of our immigration system."
"I think it is a very good measure," added Palwinder Singh Gill, founder of the Canadian Marriage Fraud Victims Society. "Canada's generous family sponsorship program was being abused because many people were marrying only to get a permanent resident card and then leave their partners. With this rule, those abusing the system will think twice."
The regulations include an exception for sponsored spouses or partners suffering abuse or neglect. The conditional measure would cease to apply in instances where there is evidence of abuse or neglect by the sponsor or if the sponsor fails to protect the sponsored spouse or partner from abuse or neglect. This abuse or neglect could be perpetrated by the sponsor or a person related to the sponsor, whether or not the abusive party is living in the household or not during the conditional period. The exception would also apply in the event of the death of the sponsor.
The conditional measure is now in force, which means that it applies to permanent residents in relationships of two years or less, with no children in common, whose applications are received on or after October 25, 2012.
Conditional permanent residence does not differ from regular permanent residence other than the need to satisfy the two-year requirement.
These regulations bring Canadian policy in line with that of many other countries including Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom, all of whom use a form of conditional status as a deterrent against marriage fraud. The lack of such a measure increased Canada's vulnerability to this type of unlawful activity. It is expected that by implementing a conditional permanent residence measure of two years as a means to deter marriage fraud, Canada will no longer be considered a "soft target" by individuals considering a marriage of convenience to circumvent Canada's immigration laws.
"Canadians are generous and welcoming, but they have no tolerance for fraudsters who lie and cheat to jump the queue," said Minister Kenney. "This measure will help strengthen the integrity of our immigration system and prevent the victimization of innocent Canadians."
In addition to conditional permanent residence, CIC introduced, in March of this past year, a measure that prohibits sponsored spouses from sponsoring a new spouse for five years following the date they become a permanent resident. Along with a multilingual advertising campaign, CIC released a short video warning people not to be duped into committing marriage fraud. The video directs people to a specific page on the CIC website (www.immigration.gc.ca/antifraud) for advice on how to immigrate to Canada "the right way."