29 October 2012

Minister takes aim at Canada visa sham marriage scam

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Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has announced a raft of new rules aimed at tackling 'countless cases' of sham marriages in Canada.

Canada visa

Minister Kenney says there are 'countless cases' of marriage fraud which need to be addressed in the Canadian immigration system.

Mr Kenney said under new Canadian immigration rules, childless foreign citizens entering the country on a Canadian visa to join a spouse must live together for at least two years, or face deportation.

The new rule is intended to prevent organised crimes from charging extortionate amounts to arrange marriages between Canadian citizens or permanent residents and foreign nationals. The arranged couples often never meet before going their separate ways.

Mr Kenney cited a Hong Kong-based organised crime syndicate charging as much as CA$60,000 for arranged marriages. The Triad gang was eventually convicted but the immigration minister says there are still 'countless cases of marriage fraud'.

"Canadians are generous and welcoming, but they have no tolerance for fraudsters who lie and cheat to jump the queue."

Mr Kenney said that while the new rule would include exceptions such as cases involving abuse, neglect or death of a partner, the failure of a couple to live together for two years would result in the revocation of residency status.

Nigel Smith, immigration consultant at the Canadian Visa Bureau, says sham marriages are a notoriously difficult crime to combat.

"Most countries struggle to combat sham marriage because there are so many influencing factors; couples routinely meet online or on holiday and want to get married and move to Canada," said Mr Smith.

"Sorting the genuine couples from the fraudulent becomes extremely difficult, especially when one of the partners is unaware that they are being scammed."

The Canadian Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people make their application to the Canadian Embassy.

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