Marriage Fraud Caution – What Not to Do When Marriages End

Citizenship and Immigration Canada is certainly keeping immigration lawyers very busy. The issuance of conditional permanent residences to spouse for a period of two years is the crown jewel of new, anti-fraud regulations implemented by Citizenship and Immigration Canada. The principle is simple and fair – if a couple separated or divorced during this “trial” period, absent abuse and other limited circumstances, the sponsored spouse risks losing his or her permanent resident status and a potential deportation. The new rules are certain to create novel challenges, which will test the legal and practical limits and definitions of marriage fraud in Canadian immigration law.

The following is a cautionary note concerning the most obvious new form of marriage fraud, which a well-intentioned party can commit either inadvertently or through willful blindness. So, how will CIC treat the situations where a bona fide marriage turns sour but a sponsored spouse induces their Canadian spouse to maintain the marriage as a ruse only as long as necessary for the foreign national to obtain status as a permanent resident. Prior to the regulatory changes, there was little legal doubt that the viability of a marriage, if initially valid, is not a proper concern of either the courts or the CIC. The establishment of a two-year conditional status for foreign spouses seeking permanent resident status, and requiring that an actual family remains intact at the end of the two-year period clauses this loophole and creates an entire category of marriage fraud. The moment that your marriage ends, you have a legal duty not to continue with the ruse. If you do, you risk colluding with your former sponsored spouse to breach federal immigration laws – a course of action which caries with it significant penalties.

In order to ensure that you remain on the right side of the law, before you decide to take any course of action, which has the potential to get you intro trouble, you should always contact a licensed immigration lawyer for advice.

Ivan J. Steele, M.A., J.D., – Toronto immigration lawyer


Questions LGBT Parents Should Ask Before Starting the Adoption Process in Canada

If you are considering adopting a child, you are in very good company!  There are numerous ingredients that go into successful adoptions.  Here are some questions you should ask yourself before you begin the process. If you are comfortable with your answers to these questions, congratulations! You are probably ready to begin the process.

1. Public or Private Agency?

Children’s aid societies are government entities across Canada that provide, as part of their mandate, a safety net for families, and are tasked with overseeing public adoptions. All public agencies (CASs) recognize that gay and lesbian parents are excellent prospects to parent youth in their care. Furthermore, the Charter, as well as the Provincial Human Rights Codes prevent discrimination on the basis of marital status and sexual orientation. The disadvantages of public agencies are the bureaucracies involved and the time it takes to complete the process. The major advantage is no cost to adopt.

Private agencies are licensed and regulated by your Province. Many LGBT adults choose to adopt through private adoption agencies, with demonstrated sensitivity to LGBT applicants. While these adoptions can be costly, applicants can exercise some control over the type of infant or youth they adopt.

2. What child is right for me/us?

Think carefully about the type of child you feel most able to parent. Please remember that adopting a child is primarily for the child’s benefit, not yours.  If she has physical, emotional, or mental challenges, will she eventually thrive with you as her parent? If he has a high need for attention, are you prepared to let him have the spotlight? Would you consider adopting a child who comes with a sister or brother? Are you adamant that you must adopt a girl, not a boy or vice versa? Are you prepared to parent a straight teenager?  Or are you pretty open to the kinds of children needing a safe, loving and permanent home? The more flexible you are, the greater the chances of success for both you and your child!

3. Do you have the necessary investments child-rearing requires?

These investments are far more than buying clothes, giving a weekly allowance, or saving for college, although those are important. While it is unpopular to talk about this, you must consider your financial resources. Raising a child can get very expensive, especially in big cities. Consequently, you should have a very clear picture of your finances. Think of it as embarking on a long term funding project.

Even more importantly, can you provide unconditional love to a child? Are you willing to get interested in activities for which your child shows aptitude? Can you be your child’s educational advocate with the school system? Can you lovingly establish, and enforce, reasonable limits? Are you ready to be completely out to your child? If you are partnered, will both of you share these commitments to your new child? If you answered yes to these, you are probably ready to make the necessary investments in the child.

4. Do you have the patience to wait for your child to show you love?

Some children, especially those older than age 5 or so, have a hard time bonding with, and trusting new adults. Are you ready for your new older child to have a very healthy dose of skepticism about you and your commitment to them? Are you prepared to wait for them to return your love?

5. Do you have the social and community resources around you that will help you and them along the way?

Will your friends and family embrace the new family unit? Does your community (i.e., LGBT resources, spiritual center, schools) offer events and groups that could be valuable to you and your child? Is there an active LGBT parent support group in the area?

6. Are you patient enough to successfully complete pre- and post-adoption placement counseling?

All agencies, public and private, will require you to complete some form of counseling before and after you adopt. Do you welcome that support or do you view it as intrusive and unwelcome?

7. Are you ready to be 100% honest and transparent with the social worker?

The worker will evaluate you, your home, financial records, employers, family, medical and psychiatric history, criminal background and so forth to see if you are likely to become a good parent. It’s important to understand that the agency worker is not looking for perfect parents. She or he is looking for your honesty and a reasonably good match with a child in need of a loving home.

8. Have you had a major life event in the past 12 months?

For instance, have you separated from or lost a partner, moved across the country, experienced the death of someone close, lost your job, married your new love, suffered a significant illness or accepted major new job duties? If so please let your significant life events settle in for a while, then re-evaluate whether or not you still want to adopt. Avoid adopting as a remedy for or as an add-on to another major life event. Adoption of a child is a major life event in its own right. It is unwise to couple it with another life event.

Reconstituting or starting a family is an enormous but a rewarding task, which should always be approached with a help of a knowledgeable adoption lawyer.

This legal information is brought you by Ivan J. Steele, Toronto family lawyer