OTTAWA — The federal government is introducing a five-year sponsorship bar to crack down on bogus marriages of convenience.
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced Friday that starting immediately, spouses will have to wait five years from the day they are granted permanent residence status in Canada before they can sponsor a new spouse.
The move is meant to prevent people from fraudulently marrying Canadians for the purposes of immigration only to leave them and then sponsor a new partner while their Canadian spouse is still financially responsible for them for three years.
“I held town hall meetings across the country to hear from victims of marriage fraud,” said Kenney, who made the announcement in Brampton, Ont., just west of Toronto.
“In addition to the heartbreak and pain that came from being lied to and deceived, these people were angry. They felt they had been used as a way to get to Canada. We’re taking action because immigration to Canada should not be built upon deceit.”
The move comes less than two years after the Conservatives promised to tackle marriage fraud. In the fall of 2010, the government held online consultations to gather public opinion and ideas on how to address the issue.
The idea of a five-year sponsorship bar was proposed in the Canada Gazette last April and was followed by a 30-day public comment period.
It also comes just weeks after outspoken Ottawa victim Lainie Towell’s ex-husband was, after a three-year fight, finally deported to his native Guinea after walking out on her just three weeks after they exchanged vows.
The measure officially came into force on Friday and is just one of several actions the government is considering.
Public consultations will begin in the coming weeks on a proposed conditional permanent-residence provision that would deter people in newer relationships from attempting to gain quick entry to Canada when they have no plans to remain with their sponsoring partner.
According to the proposal first published in the Canada Gazette last spring, the sponsored partner in a marriage or common-law relationship of fewer than two years would be subject to a conditional two-year period of permanent residence.
The measure would bring Canada in line with other countries, such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, which have similar policies.