Saturday, March 3, 2012

Migration through marriage just got harder

TORONTO - Ottawa has tightened the strings on foreigners who try to use a fraudulent marriage to gain Canadian citizenship.

The new law will force sponsored spouses to wait five years from when they are granted Canadian residence status before they can sponsor a new spouse.

There have been problems where sponsors sponsor a person believing there is a love connection only to have their spouse skip town with Canadian status.

The spouse could then sponsor another foreign spouse for money even though their sponsor would still be on the hook financially for them for three years.

"I held town hall meetings across the country to hear from victims of marriage fraud," Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney said Friday.

"In addition to the heartbreak and pain that came from being lied to and deceived, these people were angry. They felt they had been used as a way to get to Canada. We're taking action because immigration to Canada should not be built upon deceit."

Kenney was joined by Sam Benet with the Canadians Against Immigration Fraud, who has been a victim of a fraudulent marriage.

"We welcome the steps taken by the Honourable Jason Kenney to stop marriage fraud," Benet said.

"These measures will definitely protect the integrity of our immigration system."

The point of the new law is to prevent people who willingly try to circumvent Canada's immigration law.

"Many of the people who took part in the consultations made it abundantly clear that marriage fraud poses a significant threat to our immigration system," Kenney said.

"Our government has listened to the victims of marriage fraud and all Canadians, and acted to crack down on those who engage in fraud and abuse Canadians' generosity and our immigration system."

There have been cases where a sponsored spouse advertises in their home country that they will sponsor a person for cash and keeps the business going.

"There are always going to be people smart enough to get around the system, but this will make it much harder," Kenney said.

The law is similar with restrictions imposed by Australia, New Zealand and the United States.