There are various issues to consider when sponsoring a foreign national for a spousal or partner visa to enter Canada. One example of this is increased investigation into the legitimacy of marriages and whether a relationship is genuine or a person is entering into a marriage of convenience so that they can immigrate to Canada.
Of the 46,300 partner applications for permanent residence in Canada processed in 2010, about 16 per cent were rejected. According to Canadian immigration officials a lot of these rejections were based on “questionable relationships.” The Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) employs highly trained officials who use specific interview techniques in order to assess the legitimacy of a relationship. Essentially, the examining CIC officials are trained to identify sham marriages. A lack of time spent together in person, prior unsuccessful applications, unstable financial situation of the sponsor is just a short list of possible problems. In addition, indicators of a suspicious relationship include those between people of markedly different age, religion, culture or even education.
A recent high profile case illustrates how tough the Canadian immigration officials can be when it comes to partner visa cases with the age difference exceeding 30 – 40 years. A 60 year old man from Alberta named Mr Militmore wished to bring his 22 year old wife from the Philippines into the country. Their initial spousal visa application was refused because it was felt the age difference suggested that the relationship was not genuine.
Mr Militmore had been married 25 years prior to his relationship with his new wife. After his divorce in 2007 he felt lonely and used dating websites in order to find a new partner. It was not until he went to a dating specialist site online where he met his new wife who was almost 40 years younger. The couple first met in person in the Philippines in April 2008. They were married in February 2009.
The sponsorship case has been ongoing for three years so contact has been limited for the couple. However Mr Militmore insisted that the long distance has not resulted in a lack of contact or that it has harmed their relationship, “When you talk to someone online for hours you can see in their eyes and by the way they speak that they love you.”
The initial marriage visa application was blocked by the investigating CIC officials that concluded that the relationship was not genuine. This was disputed by Mr Militmore who stated “While it is unusual for people in this country to see a man of my age walking down the street with a woman of her age in the Philippines it is not unusual.”
The decision to refuse the visa application was overturned by an immigration appeal Tribunal. This led to a federal Court request to get this decision overturned, even though the immigration officials argued that the case needed to be heard again as Mr Militmore’s partner was not cross examined.
This case has proven to be very complicated with the applicant and her sponsor spending $10,000 on legal bills. Therefore it is important to be prepared when making a spousal visa application under the family immigration route as similar questions may well be asked by the examining CIC officials when making a final determination of eligibility. In the case of a large age difference there are likely to be more questions in order to test a relationship.
One thing to remember with any partner visa application is that you have certain responsibilities that you need to adhere to in order to meet immigration requirements. A sponsor is required to support their partner for at least three years even if they stop the relationship during that time. If this scenario occurs a partner with permanent residency cannot sponsor a new partner to take up residency in Canada for at least five years.
Under proposals by Immigration Minister Jason Kenney these rules would be even tighter. If his proposals were put into practise applicants would lose their permanent residency if they do not stay together with their sponsors for at least two years. This has been criticised by some people, suggesting that some partners could be forced to stay in abusive relationships in order maintain their permanent resident status in Canada.
It is important to familiarise yourself with the strict eligibility requirements before initiating the Canadian visa application process. In order to make a successful marriage or partner visa application, the intended immigrant and their sponsor must demonstrate to the satisfaction of the examining CIC officials that they entered into their marriage in good faith, and not to evade Canadian immigration laws. This may be through showing that the applicant and their sponsor maintain daily contact, have regularly visited each other and so forth. Hiring a professional immigration consultant will help you put your case forward in the most positive way and enhance your chances of a successful partner visa application.
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