Why you can't marry your way to Canadian citizenship anymore

Meghwal became aware of her marriage at the age 16 and, with the support of her parents, refused to go and live with her husband and in-laws as they demanded. (Shutterstock)

Marrying your way into Canada has become difficult as the rules regarding spousal and common-law partner sponsorship have tightened.

It is not uncommon for a Canadian citizen or resident for a fairy-tale romance with a foreign national, and to take the decision to marry. As soon as the new groom or bride enters Canadian soil, he or she disappears, now being a Canadian resident.

Canadian government has toughened rules regarding this category of sponsorship aimed at curtailing fraudulent marriages. It quotes the vulnerability of Canadian women in particular to be at stake.

Bride or groom must be present

One part of the amendments means that marriages in absentia of one of the partners are no longer valid as a basis for spousal sponsorship.

Although not permitted in Canada, the contractual agreement can be made on the phone, on Skype or by a representative, leading to a valid marriage contract.

“In a proxy marriage, the absent individual(s) must be represented by another person. Telephone, fax, and internet marriages are similar to proxy marriages in that one or both parties are not physically present at the marriage ceremony.

“This new regulation calls these forms of marriage ‘excluded relationships’, making them insufficient for spousal or common-law partner sponsorship,” explained the Canada Immigration and Citizenship (CIC).

Members of the Canadian Armed Forces, common-law partners and certain humanitarian cases may form an exception to this rule.

Minimum age

Under the new rules individuals applying to immigrate to Canada as a spouse or common-law partner of a Canadian permanent resident or citizen must be at least 18 years old in order to be considered eligible.

Previously, the minimum age was 16

“The hope is that, by raising the minimum age of eligibility, the government can help reduce the number of girls and women who are victimised by these types of marriages,” said the CIC.

Spouses and common-law partners under 18 who are still dependent on their parents can apply for residency under the sponsorship of their parents. Also here, an exception is made for certain humanitarian cases.

Be in Canada for 5 years

After a person has attained Canadian residency, he or she is able to be a sponsor of another foreigner. However, if the residency is attained on the basis of a spousal or common-law partnership sponsorship, these new residents are now required to be physically present in the country for a period of at least 5 years.

The amendments came into force on June 10, 2015, and they apply only to applications received on or after this date, whereas applications received prior to June 10 will be processed under the previous regulations.

[Image: Shutterstock]

Print Email