Posted on - Nov 15, 2012

By Catherine Sas, Q.C.

Catherine Sas Q.C.

On October 25, 2012 (last Friday) Minister Kenney implemented new legislation aimed at targeting marriage fraud. The new spousal sponsorship provisions provide that couples who have been in a spousal relationship for less than two years or that do not have children together, will be given conditional permanent residence that requires the couple to live together as spouses for a period of two years from when the sponsored spouse arrives in Canada as a Permanent Resident. These recent changes are in addition to those introduced earlier this year that provide for a five year sponsorship ban for a new permanent resident who was sponsored to Canada themselves. In March of this year the Minister made changes to the spousal sponsorship criteria stipulating that when a sponsored spouse is granted permanent residence upon arrival in Canada, this new resident will be prohibited from sponsoring a future spouse for a period of five years.

The Minister has stated that these measures are meant to address situations where a person abroad enters into a marital relationship with a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, and when they arrive in Canada, they soon divorce the Canadian sponsoring spouse, return to their country of origin, re-marry, and sponsor their new foreign spouse. These changes target this abuse by requiring couples to maintain a marital relationship in Canada for at least two years as well as by prohibiting newly sponsored Canadians from submitting a subsequent further spousal sponsorship of their own for a five year period. The new provisions are meant to protect Canadians from being victims of marriage fraud as well to make it more difficult for individuals to sponsor immigrants for financial gain.

The new two year conditional residency condition has drawn criticism from many that this will compel persons in abusive relationships to maintain their marital relationship in order to preserve their permanent resident status. The Minister has given assurances that people who are in genuine marital relationships and who are suffering from abuse will have their permanent resident status maintained. However, in situations of abuse the new permanent resident will have to advise Canada Immigration of their circumstances such that they can be investigated and acted upon. The Minister has also confirmed that this process will be complaint driven. Individuals will have to advise Canada Immigration of impropriety or abuse, “CBSA is not going to be going to people’s bedrooms”.

The Minister has implemented these new provisions to protect Canadian citizens and permanent residents as an attempt minimize the potential for abuse by foreigners who are entering in marital relationships with Canadians solely for the purpose of gaining the benefit of permanent residence to Canada.

Catherine Sas, Q.C. is a Vancouver immigration lawyer at Sas & Ing Immigration Law Centre in Vancouver, BC Canada. Catherine has been practicing law for over 25 years, and has been voted Vancouver’s Best Immigration Lawyer by the Georgia Straight newspaper for 6 consecutive years.

To learn more about immigrating to Canada, becoming a permanent Canadian resident or bringing your family to Canada, email Catherine Sas or call her at 1-604-689-5444.

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