“The Jig is Up on Marriage Fraud,” Says Minister Kenney

n an ongoing
effort to deter people from using marriages of convenience to cheat
their way into Canada, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has
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 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 were 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.”

For more information on the conditional permanent residence measure,
see the attached backgrounder.

For more information on the exception for sponsored spouses or
partners in cases of abuse or neglect, see the attached backgrounder.

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