Sunday 18 July 2010

Real scumbags get into Canada through fraudulent marriages

The fastest way for a foreigner to move to Canada is to marry a Canadian citizen. In many cases, the motives are truly based on love. I know this to be a fact because I fell in love with a young Japanese woman when I was in Europe and I talked her into coming with me to Canada. Eight months later, we were married and we have been married for 35 years, have two daughters, four granddaughters and one grandson.

In 2009, nearly 45,000 people immigrated to Canada as spouses. Unfortunately, at least 1,000 cases of fraudulent marriages are reported annually but few of these scumbag foreigners who conned their Canadian spouses are deported because proving that they entered into Canada for fraudulent purposes is tough. What follows is a typical case.

The woman lives in northern India and dreams of moving to a city called Toronto. She has some family there. She knows how to get there without having to wait a long time and go through mountains of paperwork. All she has to do is find a Canadian to marry her. Once married, she is granted permanent resident status. Once in Canada, all she needs to do to begin her new life is abandon her husband.

The entire ugly process can be completed in a matter of months. That’s how easy it is. And the consequences? Almost none. Those who marry fraudulently are rarely deported. This problem knows no colour, no language. The only people getting hurt are Canadians — in their hearts and their wallets. Abandoned spouses are angry about what happened to them but they also worry they could be on the hook for thousands of dollars. Fraudulent marriage or not, a Canadian sponsor remains obligated financially to a foreign spouse for up to three years under the terms of sponsorship. That means if the spouse ends up on government assistance, the sponsor must repay the government and risks being denied future sponsorships. Even if they divorce, the Canadian sponsor remains financially obligated if the spouse goes on welfare.

A bad-faith relationship must meet two criteria — that it is not genuine and that it was entered into to obtain immigration status.

CIC and Canada Border Services Agency do investigate immigration-related fraud but fraudulent marriages aren’t really a priority. Their main focus is on issues of national security. CBSA has eight officers to investigate bad-faith marriages. There are only 350 immigration enforcement officers across Canada. Last year, CBSA deported 14,762 people, said Patrizia Giolti, spokesperson for the agency. But there are no statistics on how many people are deported because of marriages of convenience. At least 70 per cent of the cases are from South Asia, he said.

The sponsorship period was 10 years but it was reduced to three years a couple of years ago.

In some cases, the government has asked sponsors to cough up as much as $100,000. Imagine being asked to pay money for a fiancée who has abandoned you?
Those who get permanent status in Canada through fraud are eventually able to sponsor their own family members. It’s what one would call, chain migration based on an original fraud.

Vanderhorst, now 48, anAmherstburg, Ontario native met Yennis Escobar Pompa in Cuba in 1999. Four years later, he sponsored her to Canada as his fiancée. In three weeks, she disappeared. He complained to immigration and border services numerous times that Pompa had broken the terms of sponsorship, which specified the couple had to marry within 90 days. Nothing was done. In the next couple of years, he discovered that she had obtained permanent residency and was living on welfare in Montreal. No claim has yet been made on him but Vanderhorst, who is still angry about how immigration handled his case, is on the hook until 2013.

Markham’s Kashmir Janagal flew to Punjab, India, with his parents and a half-dozen relatives in early 2008. There were three pre-weddings parties, hundreds of guests and on Febrary 16, he married Parveen Kumari, a woman he and his family had known for years. Janagal, now 34, returned home and filed his wife’s sponsorship papers. She flew to Toronto on February 8, 2009. Janagal says his wife’s uncle, who lives in Montreal, was also at the airport. Eventually, everyone went to Janagal’s home. “She didn’t want to talk to me but only to her uncle,” said Janagal, who was then training to be a primary school teacher. He left for work the next day. When he returned, she was gone. Janagal says he tried calling dozens of time — there was no answer. Finally, he filed a missing person’s report. A few days later, she filed assault charges against him. He next saw Kumari this January at the trial, where charges against him were dismissed.

It was vindication but not enough. “She has taken two years of my life. . . . The emotional pain is unbelievable,” said Janagal. “You fall totally in love and realize you’ve been used. I’ve lost faith in people.” Janagal, who is still married to Kumari, has complained to CIC, CBSA and the Prime Minister’s office. “I’ll keep at it until I know what’s happening with her.”

Cindy Green, now 52, met Francisco Vargas while on holiday in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, in 2003. They got married in October 2004, 18 months after she had first met her new spouse, Vargas came to Canada in December 2005. Green, who lives in Woodbridge, says everything was fine the first month and he even started working at a local restaurant. “In January, he started to change,” she said. He got upset at the slightest reason and “tried to provoke me into fights at every opportunity.” On Jan. 31, 2006, seven weeks after landing in Toronto, he left without an explanation.

When Canada Border Services Agency didn’t do anything, Green hired a private detective in Punta Cana. Within weeks, he found that Vargas had a common-law wife and four children with her. Armed with proof, she went to the border agency. Privacy issues still prevent her from knowing what exactly is going on “but I know that he has a deportation hearing soon.”

Green says she’s not bitter any more. “I just feel that we have to keep fighting to change our immigration system. Why is it that very few people are deported even though it’s proven they used marriage as a way to get to Canada?”

Evan Wilson, 36, of St. Thomas, Ontario met Yaemin Garcia Gonzalez while holidaying in Havana in September 2008. There was an instant connection with the 23-year-old. He spent about five days with her and then returned to Canada. One thing led to another and they were married in Havana in December 2008, her young daughter by her side. In January 2010, she arrived in Toronto. The two lived happily for some weeks.

Then Wilson said he happened to see her email. “She had written to her friend that her ex-boyfriend wanted her to claim abuse against me and go to a shelter,” he said.He says he begged her to come clean. She said she wanted to go home. He bought her a ticket but she never boarded the flight. Wilson doesn’t know how but Gonzalez somehow wound up in Miami and then in Louisville, Kentucky. She’s illegal there and they will deport her back to Canada and she’ll go on welfare here. “She should be deported back to Cuba.

Wilson has called and written to Citizenship and Immigration Canada and Canada Border Services Agency dozens of time. He says the two government agencies don’t care that she was charged with prostitution in 2005 and 2007 or that she circumvented the law here.

Deepinder Mann had heard stories of brides and grooms abandoning their spouses once they reached Canada but Deepinder Mann never thought it would happen to him. “I was marrying someone very close to my family in India,” said Mann, 36, a Brampton realtor. He married Ranjit Kaur, 31, in Punjab, India, in January 2009. Mann says he spent two weeks with her but they did not consummate the marriage. He says he sensed something was wrong but she convinced him that she would be more comfortable once she lived with him in Canada.

She came to Canada in September but didn’t stay with Mann for long. She went to her aunt’s place, said Mann. When he went to talk to the aunt, he says he was told that his wife didn’t want to live with him.

Mann slowly became aware that his wife had a boyfriend in India. Mann was given a letter in which she had admitted to it all. His wife returned to India within weeks and Mann wrote to Citizenship and Immigration Canada and Canada Border Services Agency, warning them against letting her into Canada again. He also went to India and registered cheating cases against Kaur and her family.

In March, he discovered to his horror that the Canadian authorities ignored his complaint and she had returned to Canada and was permitted to live here again.
Fraudulent marriages hurt Canadians the most and immigration laws need to be tightened, say some experts.

One proposal is to introduce a provisional visa valid for two years for new spouses. “Australia has it, so does the U.S Under this provision, if the marriage is still intact after the second year, the immigrating spouse can apply for a permanent visa. It won’t necessarily eliminate the problem but it would make it slightly tougher for people to plan elaborate marriage frauds.

There are however concerns that a temporary visa would force men and women to stay in abusive relationships. An abusive spouse could force his or her spouse to do what he or she wants under the threat that if the spouse disobeys him or her, the spouse would be sent back to the country he or she came from. It would create a class of vulnerable people living in Canada.

If a foreigner comes to Canada to marry a Canadian and the Canadian abuses his or her spouse, the foreigner has no other option but to return to his or her country. But the abusive Canadian should be required to pay for the flight home. But suppose the relationship simply sours and no abuse is involved. In Canada, a couple can divorce if they are separated for at least a year.

What’s to stop the foreign spouse from simply walking away from the marriage because of incompatibility? Normally a Canadian spouse can do this and the Canadian can remain in Canada. I believe that if a couple is incompatible and living together is out of the question and the foreign spouse doesn’t have landed immigrant status, he or she has no other choice but to return to his or her own country and that person’s flight should be paid for by the Canadian spouse. If the foreign spouse has landed immigrant status and has lived with his or her spouse for at least three years, then that spouse should be permitted to remain in Canada.

There is some good news forthcoming. Citizenship and Immigration Canada is planning to tighten policies to prevent people from gaining permanent residency through marriage fraud, said spokesperson Doug Kellam.

The sponsorship program is hard on some people and minister (Jason) Kenney is looking at changes. He is consulting with different groups and looking at how the law might be structured to deal with this kind of a situation. I think that these poor victims of marriage fraud will be very happy if the law is overhauled.

It won’t change anything for the victims personally but it’ll be a deterrent for foreigners who play with the emotions of Canadian citizens. These scumbags make fools of all of us. We can't let them get away with it.

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