Untying The Knot: Marriage Fraud In Canada
August 29, 2008
These days, tying the knot in holy matrimony could be a rather unholy expedition. Some knots untie themselves in less than a month, just after the happily ever after bliss would begin. The 13-16th edition of The Epoch Times, the worlds free newspaper, reports that Canadians who bring their spouses from abroad to join them are sometimes jilted by the beloved just after completing arrival procedures at the airport. The lucky ones are only able to live with their loved ones for three weeks, sometimes, a week, before the terms of the game are decided anew under their roof. It is a whole con that is planned and executed by families who are desperate to find new life North America.
In marriage of convenience, two parties set out to defraud the immigration system, but in marriage fraud, one party is unknowingly made to play along in a cunning love plot, all loved up until the objective is achieved. You would think the Canadian immigration system should be able to protect victims who are duped in this venture, but that is where the broken heart receives the worst blow. In recent cases, those who were jilted by their spouses in less than a month after entering the country, are also made to pay for the welfare allowances the government has doled out for the cheats. The system places no obligation at all on the fraudsters, who receive unconditional permanent residency status the moment they enter the country. All the host can do is sit back and look on.
An Asian victim who feels abused by the system has set up StopMarriageFraud.ca, to help raise awareness about fraudulent marriages. Together with Canadians Against Marriage Fraud (CAIF), the group is urging Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to consider adopting the process in Australia and the USA, where spouses wait for three years before they can apply for permanent residence. In the UK, couples are allowed a two year leave to remain upon entering the country, and are considered for indefinite stay only on satisfactory conduct. But these measures only go so far in solving the problem.
In another development, the CAIF is suing the CIC for failing to deport marriage fraudsters who take advantage of innocent and hardworking Canadian nationals. There have been several cases where individuals have taken legal action against CIC, but the crime persists. Most victims develop heart problems and there have been reported cases of suicide. The trauma is often a life-long one that affects future relationships.
On its part, CIC has been making efforts to trace the roots of marriage fraud. These attempts have included deploying staff to investigate weddings contracted abroad. The body claims Canadian missions around the world, especially in high risk areas, have intensified their monitoring and investigation methods. But how far would that go? How do you spot pretentious love? Incidentally, the Ghanaian Chartered-Accountant who offered to proofread this script is a victim of marriage fraud. He had been duped in a marriage arrangement in the United Kingdom before immigrating to Canada. So he took necessary precautions when contracting his second marriage. The would-be wife lived with his family for a year; he visited Ghana three times in four years, to check for himself the possibility of any fraud, before sponsoring the lady to Toronto. But a woman would always have her way; she untied the knot after seeing an escalator for the first time.
Quesi Ntsiful-Benjamin Ottawa, Canada