On November 5, 2014, the Leader of the Government in the Senate introduced Bill S-7, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Civil Marriage Act and the Criminal Code and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, otherwise known as the Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act (“Bill S-7“).
Bill S-7 has mainly received media attention because of its arguably inflammatory title. The actual significant impacts for prospective immigrants and practitioners are:
Practising polygamy does not result in a foreign national or permanent resident being inadmissible to Canada.
A permanent resident or a foreign national is inadmissible on grounds of practising polygamy if they are or will be practising polygamy with a person who is or will be physically present in Canada at the same time as the permanent resident or foreign national.
Marriage requires the free and enlightened consent of two persons to be the spouse of each other.
No person who is under the age of 16 years may contract marriage.
There will be a new offence that everyone who celebrates, aids or participates in a marriage rite or ceremony knowing that one of the persons being married is marrying against their will is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.
There will be a new offence that everyone who celebrates, aids or participates in a marriage rite or ceremony knowing that one of the persons being married is under the age of 16 years is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.
A judge may order a person to enter into a recognizance with conditions to keep the peace and be of good behaviour for the purpose of preventing the person from committing an offence relating to the marriage of a person against their will or the marriage of a person under the age of 16 years or relating to the removal of a child from Canada with the intention of committing an act that, » Read more about: Bill S-7 – The Zero Tolerance for barbaric Cultural Practices Act »Read more ›
Canadian immigration law allows people to sponsor their spouses or common-law partners to immigrate to Canada. A question that often arises is whether open relationships count.
Multiple Spouses or Common-Law Partners
Canadian immigration law is clear that a person cannot have more than one spouse or more than one common-law partner for the purpose of immigration. .
Section 119(9)(c) of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations provides that a person cannot sponsor someone if the prospective immigrant is the Canadian’s spouse and (i) the sponsor or the foreign national was, at the time of their marriage, the spouse of another person, or (ii) the sponsor has lived separate and apart from the foreign national for at least one year and either the sponsor is the common-law partner of another person or the foreign national is the common-law partner of another person.
On the issue of polygamous marriages, section 13.2 of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s Overseas Processing Manual 2 – Processing Members of the Family Class (the “Guidelines”) further states that:
Officers must counsel both parties that polygamy is an offence under the Criminal Code of Canada. R117(9)(c)(i) states that a spouse is not a member of the family class if the spouse or sponsor was already married to another person at the time of the subsequent marriage. This regulation prohibits a second (or third, etc.) wife from being recognized as a spouse within the family class and provides that only the first marriage may potentially be recognized for immigration purposes.
In order for the first marriage to be recognized as legally valid under Canadian law, the couple must live together in a monogamous marriage in Canada.Read more ›