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1 November 2011

CBSA Fights Back Against Marriage Fraud

The Canada Border Services Agency has opened 39 criminal investigations related to marriage fraud between 2008 and the end of 2010 in an effort known as Project Honeymoon. It has also begun a probe into the possibility of organized criminal involvement in arranging marriages of convenience to attain status in Canada. It was information obtained from the case processing centre in Alberta which revealed similarities among marriage sponsorships which elicited suspicion.

There are two types of marriage-of-convenience cases. The first is a foreign national who victimizes a well intentioned Canadian sponsor by using a relationship to gain status. These cases are generally handled by the Immigration and Refugee Board and can result in the relevant individual being removed from Canada. The second kind is when both parties are involved and these are considered to be “organized fraud” and pursued criminally. Internal documents disclosed under the Access to Information Act illustrate that these cases require considerable resources and many never make it to court.

Canada Border Services Agency has been critiqued in the past for an apparent “lack of action” on marriage fraud and Minister Kenney indicated recently that the task only gets harder if the relevant parties make it into Canada. This is why a tool such as the proposed regulatory change that would require sponsored persons arriving in Canada to remain in the relationship for over two years in order to be granted formal permanent residence is significant.

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