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