Petition calls for end to sham marriages
Last updated Jun 23 2006 09:51 AM PDT
More than 20,000 members of B.C.'s Indo-Canadian community have signed a petition calling on the federal government to change the Immigration Act to stop marriage fraud.
The Vancouver-based Canadian Marriage Fraud Victim Society wants Ottawa to stop the practice of foreign spouses using Canadians, usually women, as a way to gain permanent residency in this country.
The women are then quickly divorced, leaving them financially liable for their ex-husbands under the province's sponsorship default recovery program.
LINK: Sponsorship Default Recovery Program fact sheet
Society spokesman Kishan Bector says the immigration system isn't working to control the problem of sham marriages. He wants a three-year mandatory probationary period as a condition for obtaining permanent residency by sponsored spouses.
“The people know the moment we land here we become permanent residents of the country. Then it is very, very hard to deport a person.”
RELATED STORY: Victims of 'marriage fraud' call for changes to sponsorship program
New Democrat MLA Raj Chouhan, who has been spearheading a campaign to raise awareness of marriage fraud, says a probationary period is not the solution.
“What we need is to raise public awareness about this issue. We need a dialogue and we need to talk to the government to have policy which deals with these issues on an individual basis rather than having a blanket policy.”
Chouhan says immigrants have fought hard for the rights they have, and genuine applicants deserve to have the security of permanent residency.