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Consider Cultural Context When Assessing Genuineness of Marriage, Canada’s Federal Court Rules

In a recent case successfully argued by Ravi Jain, Canada’s Federal Court has confirmed that, when considering a spouse’s application for permanent residence as a member of the family class, visa officers must evaluate the genuineness of marriage within the cultural context in which it took place.

In particular, the Court ruled that, when assessing the genuineness of an arranged marriage, immigration officers must be careful not to apply Western conceptions of marriage as, “[b]y its very nature, an arranged marriage, when viewed through a North American cultural lens, will appear non-genuine.”

In this case, the arranged marriage included the families’ shared goal of a marriage relationship in Canada and it was wrong for the immigration officer to use the spouse’s previous attempts to remain in Canada as a basis for finding the marriage was not genuine.

The Court also ruled that, while the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) had since been amended to impose a stricter test for spousal sponsorships, the applicant was entitled to have her case assessed under the Regulations in force at the time the application was first submitted.

For further information on the Federal Court’s ruling in this case (Elahi v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration), 2011 FC 858) or on the requirements and process in applying for permanent residence as a member of the family class, please contact the immigration law specialists at Green and Spiegel LLP.