Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) will soon unveil its new regulations aimed at curbing marriage fraud in the sponsoring of family class immigrants, according to a recent report in the Globe and Mail. It is anticipated that the regulations will introduce a new “conditional” permanent residence status for sponsored spouses and place a five-year ban on sponsored spouses who leave their relationships and attempt to sponsor a new spouse.
The new regulations follow public and stakeholder consultations held in the fall of 2010 on the issue of marriage fraud. According to CIC’s summary report of the consultations, there was “strong support for measures and actions by the Government of Canada to address marriages of convenience.” The report indicates that supported measures and actions included the introduction of conditional permanent residence status for sponsored spouses (68% of respondents) and sponsorship bars (73% of respondents).
The objective of the proposed conditional permanent residence period, according to a CIC Canada Gazette notice published March 26, 2011, would be “to deter marriages of convenience while maintaining the spirit of the family reunification program by continuing to facilitate the reunification of genuine spouses and partners and their dependents.” While the period of conditional status has yet to be unveiled, the notice indicates that “[a] conditional period of two years or more would … help to bring Canada’s policies to deter marriage fraud into line with those of other countries, such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, all of which already employ a form of two-year conditional status for those in new relationships.”
Similarly, the primary intent of a sponsorship bar, according to a second CIC notice dated April 2, 2011, is “to create a disincentive for a sponsored spouse or partner to use a relationship of convenience as a means of circumventing Canada’s immigration laws, abandoning their sponsor soon after arriving in the country, then seeking to sponsor a new spouse or partner.” Like the conditional status amendment, the proposed five-year bar would be consistent with similar restrictions imposed in other countries, in this case Australia, New Zealand and the United States.
For further information on the proposed new regulations or on the requirements and process generally in applying for permanent residence in the family class, please contact the immigration law specialists at Green and Spiegel LLP.