Feds cracking down on immigration involving marriage

Feds cracking down on immigration involving marriage

By ELIZABETH THOMPSON, Parliamentary Bureau
Calgary Sun

Last Updated: April 2, 2010 5:13pm

OTTAWA — The federal government is moving to crack down on those who use fraudulent or forced marriages to get into Canada.

Under proposed new regulations, published without fanfare in the Canada Gazette, it will be easier for immigration officials to refuse someone applying to immigrate to Canada if they believe they entered into a marriage in “bad faith.”

The proposed new rules would also make it easier for officials to refuse adopted children if the adoption did not create a genuine parent-child relationship” or was done to immigrate.

“Relationships of convenience take advantage of programs that are intended to help reunite bona fide families and are unfair towards immigrants who immigrate based on bona fide relationships,” the immigration department wrote.

“Strengthening provisions to prevent individuals from entering Canada through bad faith relationships supports bona fide immigrants and serves the best interests of Canadians by enforcing a fair immigration system.”

Under the current regulations, officials have to establish two things in order to refuse a candidate — that the marriage is not genuine, plus that it is designed to allow someone to immigrate to Canada.

However, officials say having to prove both elements has made it difficult to prevent people from using relationships of convenience to circumvent immigration rules.

Under the proposed regulations, officials would just have to establish one of the two elements.

“Even if it cannot be established that a relationship was not entered into primarily to attain an immigration benefit, it may still fail to be a genuine relationship at the time the decision is made by an immigration minister,” the government wrote. “An important example would be a forced marriage, where true consent between the parties is lacking, perhaps as the result of the undue influence of an overbearing third party.”

They also cite cases where the marriage has broken down but is used to enable immigration.

Determining the legitimacy of a marriage or an adoption is sometimes difficult, the government concedes.

“Immigration officers called upon to decide these matters face an exceedingly difficult task. They must proceed cautiously and carefully, ever aware of the need to facilitate family reunification while at the same time safeguarding the integrity of the immigration process.”

The government said the proposal has provincial backing as well as the support of the Canadian Bar Association, despite its misgivings it could be unfair to people in arranged marriages.

Montreal immigration lawyer David Chalk questioned whether the changes were necessary and suggested it could result in officials making mistakes that can’t be easily remedied.

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