I’ve been following the news regarding Canadian Immigration pretty closely — not surprising considering my immigrant status. Last week this article in the Globe and Mail talks about the percentage of immigrants who settle in Ontario vs. other provinces, which kind of bored me. What was interesting, though, were two issues in the continued fight against immigration fraud. When Andrea and I filled out our application, most of our time was spent collecting evidence to prove our relationship — records of emails, phone calls, meetings between us, friends, and family, etc. It’s extensive.
Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced Friday a government crackdown on marriage fraudsters: people who marry and enter Canada under spousal sponsorship, only to abandon their partners shortly thereafter.
Sponsored spouses will also be restricted from sponsoring others for five years – a change effective immediately. This is meant to put an end to the “revolving door” of serial marriage, sponsorship and divorce, Mr. Kenney said.
Basically, foreigners have been wooing Canadians into marriage in order to get permanent residence and absconding once they have it. Some unscrupulous folk, in turn, see this as an opportunity and have been marrying for profit, in exchange for legal status. Good that they’re fixing this loophole. Surprised it’s taken this long. Saddened that it’s necessary in the first place.
The last realization might have led to a discussion of Dungeons & Dragons character alignments. I am totally Lawful Good, btw. If I stop and think about it, I know people can be dicks and do horrible, horrible things but on an individual level its hard for me to fathom this.
There’s another pending change to immigration law:
Starting this summer, those who are sponsored by their spouses to come to Canada will only be given temporary resident status for two years before they can gain permanent residency. If, during that period, the government discovers the marriage was one of convenience, the individual will be denied permanent residency. The new policy will include a provision to protect spousal abuse victims, who may be reluctant to end their marriages out of fear of jeopardizing their chances at gaining permanent resident status.
The fine print clarifies that the temporary resident status would only applies to couples who’ve been in a relationship less than two years when they file for sponsorship.
When you’re going applying for permanent residence in-country, you can’t help but feel like a non-entity. I was able to get on Ontario Reciprocal Drivers License (eventually), but I can’t work so I can’t pay taxes. Without paying taxes here, I get no benefits, like health insurance and I can’t buy it, either. Supplemental insurance is for visitors with fixed times of entry and exit, and even if I could finagle that, they only a) cover emergency room visits and b) are cost-prohibitive when you’re on a very tight budget.
My visitor visa doesn’t cover me going to school, either, so that excludes any formal continued education; I’m mostly self-taught, but it would be nice to take some classes. You know, maybe something like French to help me better integrate? There isn’t a huge French population in our part of Ontario, but I have a maybe, possible job offer waiting for me when I do have my permanent residence in Ottawa, a stone’s throw from Quebec and it would sure be nice to get more of a leg up on top of the other stuff I’m teaching myself.
That’s a lot of putting life on hold. We want to find a place of our own. Take some classes together. Have kids. It’s next to impossible to do any of that, though, until I can do my part.
By the time our application is approved, I’ll have been living in Canada for almost 18 months. I may have to wait another two years before I can apply for citizenship and you can be damn sure I will be as soon as I’m eligible. Under the new plan, an applicant may have to wait a year to get a temporary residence permit, two years to earn their permanent residence permit, and then another two years to be able to apply for citizenship — effectively five years.
You could argue that having a residence permit is not much different than having citizenship and I’m not sure all of the differences but it includes the ability to vote, which is kind of a big deal, at least for me.
I don’t think there are any easy solutions. Fraud is fraud and I’d like to flay the soles of anyone caught red-handed. I would like to see, though, a better solution for those of us who are trying to make a new life here. Make it easier to obtain a work permit — and pay taxes — while I’m waiting. Let me volunteer, or study, and integrate better.