Canada Reminds: There Are Two Kinds of Marriage Fraud

By David North on March 6, 2012

A recent article in a Canadian daily reminded me that there are two kinds of immigration marriage fraud.

The most common one is what I call the bilateral model, in which two consenting adults enter a marriage created to give a visa to one partner, and cash to the other, the citizen.

The other, more unusual one might be called the unilateral model, in which the alien cons the unwitting citizen into marriage, with a visa in mind, and then abandons the spouse when the papers arrive.

The Canadian Minister of Immigration, Jason Kenney, recently announced a new, stricter regulation of marriage-creating visas, according to an article in the Winnipeg Free Press on March 3. The article quoted the minister as saying "I held town hall meetings across the country to hear from victims of marriage fraud" before declaring the new rules.

Presumably these were all victims of unilateral marriage fraud, and the meetings were designed to drum up support for the reform.

The reform is a solid one, something that we in America might consider. It is simplicity itself: if a citizen creates a visa for some alien by marrying the alien, that citizen cannot do the same thing for another alien until five years have passed. In the States we have a two-year waiting period before the conditional document for the newly married alien becomes a full green card. Then the citizen is free to get a divorce and create another marriage visa.

The new Canadian system, which went into effect on March 2, was a change in the regulations; such a change in the United States would require an act of Congress.

The more-migration people in Canada, specifically the New Democratic Party's shadow immigration minister, Don Davies, criticized the action for two reasons, one, from this distance, seeming to have some merit, and the other having none.

Davies' perhaps valid point is that the new rule may be a smoke screen to blur the fact that the government is cutting its overseas consular staff by 5-10 percent in the next budget, which will limit the government's ability to sort out marriage (and other visa) fraud before it happens.

Davies' not-so-valid point, as quoted in the Free Press, was as follows: "Where I would put my focus is on prevention rather than the defeatist position of the minister which is simply to ramp up penalties after the problem has occurred and after the pain has been caused".

The Conservative Government's position is forward-looking; it is designed to limit the ability of its citizens to engage in marriage fraud in the future. Davies missed that.

As I noted in an earlier blog, marriage-creating visas make up a large portion of our inflows of legal immigrants; 27-30 percent of the new green cards issued in recent years have gone to some residents' spouses, most presumably in valid relationships, and an unknown number in phony ones.