Federal government guidelines from 2007 on how to spot a genuine marriage are racist and discriminatory.
A list of potential red flags for immigration officers includes ‘Chinese nationals … marrying non-Chinese’ and if the ‘sponsor is uneducated, with a low-paying job or on welfare’.
The three-page document has since become defunct as the spousal sponsorship process was changed, but it offers an insight into the thinking of immigration officials.
As part of the spousal sponsorship process, couples are asked to send pictures of their wedding and of how their relationship has developed.
Immigration officers are told to look out for ceremonies with no family present, a lack of intimacy (‘if the couple does not kiss on the lips’) and no diamond rings.
Red Flags for Non-Genuine Relationships
- University students of Chinese nationality marrying non-Chinese
- Wedding pictures without family members or small groups of friends
- Private marriage ceremony
- Informal reception
- Uneducated sponsor with low-paying job, or on welfare
- Couple do not kiss in pictures
- No honeymoon
- No diamond rings
- Professional wedding pictures that are limited in scope
- Staged pictures in pyjamas or cooking to show ‘living together’
- Pictures wearing the same clothes in different locations
- Couples avoiding contact in pictures
- Pictures of activities in Niagara and Toronto
Private marriage ceremonies performed in restaurants with no honeymoon are also key red flags.
Other issues include pictures where couples appear to be avoiding contact, or where ordinary every-day situations have obviously been staged.
The guidance may be from 2007, but it should serve as an insight to Family Class applicants into the types of things immigration officers are looking for when assessing applications.
Family Class applications are assessed in two parts. First, the sponsor must show they are able to support the candidate. Second, the candidate must submit both health and criminal record checks. Permanent residence is issued with a 2-year condition a provision that was implemented by the previous government to reduce the incidence of fake marriages. Throughout the whole process, an immigration officer assesses whether the relationship is genuine.
The current government is considering a review of this 2-year conditional rule because critics assert it forces spouses to stay in bad marriages. The issue is a never ending no-win dilemma.
Immigration Minister John McCallum has made the prompt reunification of families one of the key targets of planned changed to Canada’s immigration system.
Currently, many spouses, especially in Asia, have to wait up to 4 years for applications to be processed. McCallum wants to lower this timeframe dramatically.
It is one of a number of changes he is planning in the fall in an attempt to make Canada’s family immigration system more humane.
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