In a crackdown on fraudulent marriages, the Canadian government is proposing a period of conditional permanent residence requiring a sponsored spouse stay in a “bona fide” relationship with their sponsor, possibly for two or more years.
Another proposal would prevent a person who has been sponsored as a spouse from sponsoring a new partner for five years.
(In 2009, nearly 45,000 people immigrated to Canada as spouses. Citizenship and Immigration Canada says 1,000 fraudulent marriages are reported annually. Many others go unreported.)
Those who claim to be victims of marriage fraud welcome the proposed changes.
But social workers say it’s a step backward and will hold some women hostage.
“It’s like going back in time,” says Avvy Go, director of the Metro Toronto Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic, referring to a former law whereby fiancés had to get married within 90 days after entering Canada or face deportation.
That law was eliminated in 2002, says Go. “Now instead of 90 days, it’s a two-year trial period that the government is proposing.”
It will be lethal for women, says Go. “Domestic abuse is a big problem and if these women speak up against it, they could get deported.”
In a recent case, a woman who married in March 2010 in India says she was physically and sexually assaulted by her husband within days of landing in Toronto last January. She endured the abuse until August when her husband’s family told her they would throw her out if she didn’t get $20,000 from her parents in New Delhi.
“I couldn’t ask them for money ... and I knew the beatings would get worse,” she says. She left her husband’s home in the summer and now rents a room in a Mississauga basement, is getting a driver’s licence and looking for work.
If Ottawa’s proposed changes had been in effect, she says she would still be with her husband in that house.
“And I could have done nothing.”
Source: Toronto news.