Ottawa eyes arranged marriages
By TOM GODFREY
Last Updated: April 12, 2010 6:16pm
A plan by Ottawa to crackdown on newcomers who use arranged marriages to fraudulently come to Canada has drawn a mixed reaction from community groups.
The proposal will affect members of the Sikh, Muslim, Hindu and other communities who bring spouses to Canada through arranged marriages, according to immigration officials. The government has maintained the proposed measures are not designed to affect genuine applicants only those who use arranged marriages as a guise to gain entry into the country.
These marriages cause a great deal of anxiety and should be strictly regulated, said Tarek Fatah, of the Muslim Canadian Congress. They cause a great deal of problems in the community.
He said arranged marriages that fail can lead to domestic abuse or other dangerous situations for a spouse.
We welcome this move to enforce the policy, Fatah said. The Canadian citizenship is not for sale.
Under the proposal, immigration officers will conduct more thorough background checks of applicants.
Omar Farouk, president of the International Muslims Organization, noted while some Muslims pursue arranged marriages, others do not.
The cultural practice has been going on for a long time in some parts of the world, Farouk said. This is not something new in Canada.
Federal immigration spokesman Kelli Fraser said the proposals are required to clarify exiting rules.
The intent of the proposed regulations is to provide visa officers with a better tool in order to protect the immigration system from non-genuine marriages, Fraser said on Monday by e-mail.
Toronto immigration lawyer Mendel Green said hes been told that 3,000 files are under investigation for suspected marriage fraud.
There is a suspicion of high abuse of the marriage process to come to Canada, Green said. This hurts innocent immigrants who are all suspected of rampant fraud.
Toronto lawyer Guidy Mamann said the increased checks will make it harder for everyone trying to sponsor an arranged marriage spouse.
It will make it easier for officers to refuse cases, Mamann said. A lot of legitimate marriages will be refused as not being genuine.