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Genuine Relationships and the Risks of Fraud in Canadian Spousal Sponsorship

Canadian Spousal Sponsorship: Genuine Relationships or Fraud? Risks & Proof You Need (2024)

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Spousal sponsorship (➨page)  is a major pathway for bringing together loved ones because Canada’s immigration policy focuses on family reunification. However, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has stringent measures to ensure that relationships are not fake and aimed at fraudulent immigration.

Relationships of Convenience

Sometimes, sponsors and foreign applicants get into what is termed by the IRCC as a “relationship of convenience.” The main objective of this kind of union, commonly referred to as conjugal relationship, marriage or common-law partnership, is to help the foreign national gain Canadian residence. Thorough document examination process and interviews with both partners are used by IRCC officers to detect such fraudulent affiliations.

Canadian citizens or permanent residents involved in such fraudulent relationships risk criminal charges, highlighting the seriousness of these offenses.

Marriage fraud occurs when an individual marries someone as a way of getting Canadian permanent residency. Both the sponsor and foreigner could face severe consequences if discovered. IRCC warns sponsors to be wary, particularly if:

  • Their partner is someone they have only recently met.
  • The partner is eager to marry quickly.
  • The partner has married multiple times or had common-law partnerships with different people in the past.
  • They find their partner does not disclose any information about background or ever mention them.

Such red flags can indicate potential fraud; thus, sponsors should consider their decision before making it final on sponsoring.

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The Consequences of Marrying for Immigration

Engaging in a fraudulent marriage for immigration purposes can have severe repercussions for both sponsors and visa applicants.

For sponsors, the legal and financial consequences are significant, including potential criminal charges and an obligation to financially support the sponsored individual for three (3) years, regardless of the relationship's outcome. Personal risks are also significant, making it crucial for sponsors to resist entering into marriages of convenience.

For visa applicants (sponsored person), the stakes are equally high: involvement in a false marriage will not only result in visa refusal but also a five-year travel ban and a permanent mark on their immigration record, which could jeopardize future applications.

Documentation to Prove a Genuine Relationship

To demonstrate the authenticity of a relationship, applicants must provide comprehensive documentation. Requirements differ slightly for married and common-law couples.

For Married Couples:

  • Relationship Information and Sponsorship Evaluation (IMM 5532): Detailed questionnaire about the relationship.
  • Marriage Certificate: Official document proving the marriage.
  • Marriage Registration Proof: Evidence that the marriage is registered with relevant authorities.
  • Divorce Certificates (if applicable): Proof of termination of previous marriages.
  • Children’s Birth Certificates or Adoption Records: Documents listing both parents for any shared children.
  • Wedding Invitations and Photos: Visual proof of the wedding ceremony and celebrations.

Same-sex couples whose marriages are not recognized in the foreign national’s country must apply as common-law partners. If unable to cohabit due to visa restrictions, they may apply as conjugal partners.

For Common-Law Partners:

A common-law partnership in Canada is defined as an unmarried couple living together in a conjugal relationship for at least one year. These couples need to provide:

  • Relationship Information and Sponsorship Evaluation (IMM 5532): Same as married couples.
  • Cohabitation Proof: Evidence of living together for at least one year.
  • Financial Interdependence: Proof of shared financial responsibilities.
  • Recognition by Social Circles: Letters from friends and family or social media evidence showing public acknowledgment of the relationship.

Ready to take the next step towards your Canadian immigration journey? Fill out the form below and embark on your path to new opportunities.

Additional Documentation

Both married and common-law couples should provide documents from at least two of the following categories:

  • Joint Property Ownership or Lease: Proof of joint ownership or rental agreements.
  • Shared Financial Accounts or Utilities: Joint bank accounts, credit cards, or utility bills.
  • Vehicle Insurance: Documents listing both partners as residents at the same address.
  • Government Documents: Driver’s licenses, tax forms, or other official documents showing the same address.
  • Correspondence and Household Management: Letters, bills, or other evidence of shared responsibilities.

If such documents are unavailable, couples must provide a detailed written explanation.

Demonstrating Cohabitation

Couples can prove cohabitation through:

  • Joint Financial Accounts: Bank statements or credit card records.
  • Joint Property Ownership or Lease: Documentation of shared residential property or lease agreements.
  • Shared Utilities and Household Management: Bills and evidence of shared household responsibilities.
  • Correspondence and Communication: Letters, emails, text messages, and social media interactions.
  • Travel Evidence: Tickets, boarding passes, and passport stamps indicating visits.

If not living together currently, couples need to provide proof of previous cohabitation or explain separations due to visa issues, supported by relevant documents.

Advice for Potential Sponsors and Applicants

Potential sponsors have to be wary about fraud indicators. Therefore, they need to research about their partner’s past and should not marry or enter into sponsorship agreements hastily.

Applicants should provide legitimate documentation and show evidence that proves that their relationship really exists.

IRCC emphasizes that individuals in abusive relationships do not need to stay with their abuser to maintain their status in Canada. Permanent residents have the right to seek help and safety without fearing loss of their residency status.

Ready to take the next step towards your Canadian immigration journey? Fill out the form below and embark on your path to new opportunities.

Connect With Us Today

The Federal Family Class – Spouse, Partner, and Dependent Child (FSPS) program (➨page) offers a pathway for Canadian citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their spouse, partner, or dependent children for Canadian permanent residency.

Ready to take the next step? Our immigration experts can help you navigate the eligibility criteria and ensure a smooth application process. Turn your dream of being together in Canada into reality.

Connect with our experts today by completing of Fee Assessment Form.

Ready to take the next step towards your Canadian immigration journey? Fill out the form below and embark on your path to new opportunities.

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