(The following is an article that I wrote for Policy Options.)
On April 13, 2017, the Trudeau government fulfilled a campaign promise from the 2015 federal election by eliminating the status of conditional permanent residency from Canada’s family reunification immigration programs. From 2012 to 2017, under rules implemented by the previous Harper government, immigrants who were married or in a common-law relationship with a Canadian citizen or permanent resident for less than three years before being sponsored by their partner for permanent residency would become conditional permanent residents. The “condition” was that if they separated from their partner within two years of immigrating, they could lose their status and be removed from Canada.
The Trudeau government’s decision to end conditional permanent residency was treated with jubilation by most Canadian immigration lawyers and observers; many stakeholders remarked how callous and draconian the Conservatives were to have introduced such a measure in the first place. Indeed, the Liberal government stated when it repealed conditional permanent residency that it was taking this action to uphold its commitment to family reunification, support gender equality and combat gender violence. The implication, of course, was that the Conservatives did not care about any of these things.
Although I supported the repeal of conditional permanent residency, I believe that some of the criticism of the previous government has been unfair. Now that the dust has more or less settled, I hope to offer a more balanced summary of why the Conservatives introduced conditional permanent residency, why its repeal was a good thing and why those who are concerned about marriage fraud should have confidence in Canada’s immigration system.
Why conditional permanent residency was introduced
When the Conservatives introduced conditional permanent residency in 2012,Read more ›
Last updated on October 23rd, 2020
Raj Sharma joins Peter Edelmann and Steven Meurrens to discuss marriage fraud.
Raj Sharma is the managing partner of Stewart Sharma Harsanyi. He is a well known commentator on immigration law. In addition to his active blog and numerous presentations that he has given at immigration conferences and seminars, he has written numerous op-eds on immigration, diversity and multi-culturalism that have been published in many manjor Canadian newspapers. He has debated Martin Collacott of the Fraser Institute and Centre for Immigration Reform on whether Canada accepts too many immigrants; Deepak Obhrai (MP and Parliamentary Secretary) on additional and stricter language requirements for citizens; David Seymour of the Manning Centre on whether Canada’s new immigration policy is too exclusionary; Imam Syed Soharwardy on honour crimes in Canada; and a CSIS agent on the profiling of Muslims.
2:33 – 44:20 – We discuss marriage fraud, and how the previous government introduced several measures to try and prevent it. These measures included introducing a disjunctive test in which a marriage would not facilitate immigration if the marriage was not genuine or if the marriage had been entered into primarily for the purpose of immigration. It also included the introduction of conditional permanent residency, in which immigrants who immigrate to Canada as a result of a marriage or common-law relationship would lose their permanent resident status if the relationship broke down within 2 years of immigrating. Finally, the previous Conservative Government of Canada also introduced a five year spousal sponsorship bar, in which a permanent resident who immigrated after marrying a Canadian could not sponsor a new spouse or common-law partner for five years after immigrating.
Raj was a fantastic guest to have for this topic,Read more ›
(Note from Steven: I met John at the Canadian Bar Association British Columbia branch annual conference in San Francisco. He is currently involved in some fascinating litigation representing an individual who sponsored a spouse only to watch her immediately divorce him after she immigrated. She also left him on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars in social assistance payments. I invited John to some write articles for this blog, and here is the first of what will hopefully be many into this issue.)
Marriage fraud happens. You meet a nice person. They live in another country. You get along. They or one of their relatives suggest that you get married. So you get married. You sponsor your spouse’s immigration to Canada and sign an undertaking that you will supply the necessities of life for three years and pay any social assistance that that person takes from the government. All of a sudden, your new spouse leaves. And doesn’t come back. No explanation. No fight. It’s just over. You realize that they never had any intention of staying married. And in the worst case scenario, you get a bill three years later from the government for social assistance that your ex-spouse received without your knowledge or consent.
Where your spouse has separated from you and you suspect that the marriage was fraudulent, there are steps you can take to protect yourself:
- Inform Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Under new rules effective October 25th, 2012, a sponsored spouse who does not legitimately live with their spouse for two years may be deported.
- File for divorce.
- Find out if your spouse has applied for or is receiving social assistance.
- Consult a lawyer to determine if you can sue your spouse for fraudulent misrepresentation of marriage.