Home > Canadian immigration > New Canadian government ad campaign to warn against sham marriages

New Canadian government ad campaign to warn against sham marriages

March 15th, 2014

15 March 2014

The Canadian government is making a concerted effort to highlight the problem of sham marriages and so-called ‘marriages of convenience’. The Department of Citizenship and Immigration has released a series of videos highlighting the problem and how innocent parties can be duped into such relationships, leaving them both out of pocket and heartbroken.

The videos are the brainchild of Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, who released a statement saying that he has heard many stories of people left devastated by such situations. He was also keen to stress that Canada welcomes newcomers who are willing to work hard and follow the rules, however those trying to gain citizenship through a false marriage, are certainly not welcome.

Touching videos
The handful of videos feature testimony by the victims of sham marriages sharing their experiences and the effect it had on them. The videos are part of Fraud Prevention Month, a program which focuses on a different immigration issue each year. Last year’s campaign concentrated on advising Canadians about using unauthorized immigration consultants.

New immigration laws
Some new related immigration laws have also been introduced recently, one of which requires some immigrant spouses to cohabit with their sponsor for two years or else risk losing their permanent resident status. This rule only applies, however, to those who have been married for under two years and do not have children together at the time their immigration application is made.

The Canadian government says that the new immigration rules were developed over a consultation period of two years, during which the government considered concerns brought forward by many groups who said that victims of domestic violence may be unjustly penalised. However, upon introducing the new rules the government was keen to stress that the conditional permanent resident status for sponsored spouses will be waived in situations where there is evidence of abuse or neglect. The same applies in cases where the Canadian spouse dies.

Nevertheless, some criticism persists, most notably from groups such as the Canadian Council for Refugees who said that the new rules could possibly allow an abusive sponsoring partner to threaten their spouse with the possibility of deportation from Canada.

The newly introduced rules are complaint-based, which means that it’s up to the victim of a fraudulent marriage to report possible irregularities to the Canada Border Services Agency. At the same time, Canadian immigration officers are also taught to detect sham marriages while processing immigration applications.

Sham marriage arrests
In January, the Canada Border Services Agency charged seven individuals in Toronto in connection with a possible sham marriage scheme. The CBSA said the accused had acted as mediators who arranged marriages between Canadian citizens and Chinese nationals, with the Canadian citizens also acting as sponsors. A long-term investigation exposed the marriages as fake and for the sole purpose of letting the in-name-only spouses to gain entry status in Canada. It is believed the mediators were charging between $30,000 and $35,000 each time.