Want To Stop Marriages Of Convenience? Interview People

By Klaudios Mustakas | April 8, 2015

Klaudios Mustakas – Senior Immigration Advisor: A recent report from the federal government says that there is a big problem with sham marriages:

More than a third of the applications to bring new spouses to Canada from India may involve bogus marriages, according to internal government documents made public on Tuesday.

“Marriages of convenience” in India “have become a threat to the integrity of Canada’s immigration program,” states the 2013 report from the Canada Border Services Agency’s enforcement and intelligence operations directorate.

Applications involving Indian nationals engaged in phoney marriages “are constantly evolving and creatively testing the bounds of the Canadian immigration system.”
The report, which cited statistics up to 2012, said it is “presumed” that there is a link between organized crime and the arrangement of phoney marriages.

The broader problem of marriage fraud primarily involves applicants from 10 to 15 countries. The report identifies China, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Cambodia, Nigeria, Ghana, Ethiopia, Guyana and Haiti as the “high risk” countries involving Canadian permanent residents sponsoring bogus spouses under the immigration system’s family-class section, according to Border Services.

Marriages of convenience are nothing new. Fact is, unless you interview people or make an actual “bed check,” you will never eliminate this problem.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) does not interview people in spousal sponsorship cases. CBSA is the department mandated to do actual field investigations, but frankly they do not have the resources to do them properly. Their limited resources are aimed at stopping criminal activity and terrorism.

CIC feels that by prolonging the processing time for all spousal applications – whether phoney or not – the problem will somehow resolve itself. I suppose this is true to the extent that a process which takes years will somehow be a deterrent to shady applicants, but this is grossly unfair to bona fide married couples caught in the same trap.

A solution that could be adopted now is to fast track applications that involve kids, and concentrate on suspected sham marriages.

Just because a marriage is an arranged one, it does not mean that it is a marriage of convenience. In the end, there is only one simple solution: interview people.

Klaudios Mustakas is a former senior manager with the Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA) and Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). He has 37 years of federal government service, including international diplomatic assignments in the United States and the Middle East. He retired as Chief, Enforcement (CBSA) in December, 2010.