Canada aims to bust fake marriage 'industry'
Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury
New Delhi, June 20, 2010
Worried over the rising cases of fake marriages between Indo-Canadians and Indians, Canada is contemplating tougher administrative measures to check the menace.
The Stephen Harper government has, in fact, described the fake marriages as “an industry”. Canada immigration minister, Jason Kenney, took a strong stand on the issue last week.
“There is always money involved. It's disgusting. It's an industry, actually,” he said.
His statement comes barely 10 days before PM Manmohan Singh's visit to Toronto for the G-20 Summit and bilateral meetings.
Kenney added: “Once the spouses are in Canada, it is difficult, if not impossible, to prove the fraud occurred.” The minister was reacting to a complaint filed by a 22-year-old Indo-Canadian woman who said she was misled by a man from India. He had married her to enter Canada and did not contact her after obtaining a visa.
There have been several such cases in British-Columbia, where the majority of Indo-Canadians, mostly Punjabis, live.
Explaining the limitations of the existing system, Kenney noted: “How do you get a criminal conviction – proving that someone entered into the marriage and filled out immigration forms in bad faith – when they never get together and the other person says 'we fell out of love'?” It has been learnt that some couples continue to live together for some time before separating to avoid suspicion of being involved in a fake marriage.
Kenney said: “Something has to be done to prevent this exploitation… of our broader immigration system.” Ottawa is now considering suggestions from advocates of victims who want Canada to adopt a probation period for spouses arriving from other countries.
Under such a system, as in the US and Australia, sponsored spouses do not get legal status in their new country until they have lived with their partners for a significant period.
There have also been cases where people have entered into incestuous marriages on paper to bring their siblings to Canada, mainly from Punjab.
Canada had tried addressing the fake marriage issue two years ago too. There were reports that Ottawa had dispatched secret squads to countries to collect information on such weddings.