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True Love or Marriage Fraud?
Monday September 19 at 10 pm ET/PT & Sunday September 25 at 8 pm ET
What’s the dirty little secret about spousal immigration sponsorships in Canada? It’s that many Canadians are being duped into marriage, not for love, but for Canadian residency. And even if the fraud is discovered, the victims have little real power to get their fraudulent spouses deported from Canada — plus they’re financially responsible for them for three years.
True Love or Marriage Fraud? The Price of Heartache, introduces viewers to these startling facts about the Canadian immigration system and the devastation it causes to its shattered victims. Canada is, perhaps, the easiest among all developed countries in which to commit marriage fraud — and without any repercussions. Around one thousand cases marriage fraud are reported to the government every year – stories of would-be immigrants who woo and marry Canadians as a doorway into Canada.
Lainie, an Ottawa artist, is seen in the midst of a public protest wearing a wedding dress with a door strapped to her back, to symbolize her experience marrying a man who she says used her to gain entry into the country. She says “The easiest way to become a permanent resident in this country is to get married. As soon as you step into the country you’re granted permanent residency status. There’s no other country that grants this…..I was duped into marrying this man who had no intention of staying with me.”
Foreign nationals who can’t get into Canada through regular channels are finding unsuspecting Canadians to marry and then leave. Some then sponsor their own family — even secret spouses and children— to come to Canada afterwards.
True Love or Marriage Fraud? The Price of Heartache touches on the stories of other victims, including men who have been used, dumped and even threatened by foreign women. It also tells the stories of two women who have married foreign men, believe they are truly in love, and are willing to take the risk of sponsoring them. Viewers watching may be suspicious, considering the men are substantially younger.
Roxanne, 40, has a child, lives in a B.C. suburb and has fallen in love with Abdel, 26, a Moroccan who likes city life. Stephanie is also older than her new husband, Abderrahim, who waits in Morocco to join his wife in Canada. Both women know the risks — including the fact that, even if their spouse leaves them, they’ll be on the hook to pay back any social assistance he may receive from the government — but they’re willing to take a leap of faith. Time will tell what will happen to these relationships.
For those whose dreams have already been shattered, it will take time to have their faith restored, not only in love but the Canadian government.
Abdollah, a male victim, says he called Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the Canada Border Services Agency and was told that it happens a lot in Canada. “They asked me to go and basically live my life.”
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, who is interviewed in the film, says if the government removes the financial obligation of sponsors, he fears there will be more false marriages than now, only with Canadians paying the tax bill at the end of the day.
But, immigration lawyer Julie Taub says that “Love is blind and you see what you only want to see.” So why are marriage victims in Canada still paying for the misdeeds of someone who betrayed them and the system? Why aren’t the actual perpetrators facing any consequences?
“Marriage fraud victims are penalized twice. First by the fraudsters that cheat and deceive them and then by the government that forces the victims to pay back any assistance that these fraudulent spouses collect from the government,” says director Julia Ivanova, a Russian-born immigrant in Canada. “To add insult to injury, these fraudsters remain in Canada and may in turn go back home and marry their girlfriends and boyfriends that they’ve had all along and sponsor them into Canada as permanent residents.”
In 2010, Citizenship & Immigration Canada conducted a series of public consultations about the problems with the sponsorship system (see: www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/protection/fraud/marriage.asp).
In March 2011, the government filed notice of possible changes to immigration regulations which may include a two-year conditional period before a new spouse could be granted permanent residence status (see Canada Gazette, March 26, 2011, p. 1077). CIC will seek public comment on possible changes before legislation is brought forward.
On June 3rd, 2011, in the Throne Speech of the new Parliament, the government confirmed that it will introduce measures to address the marriage fraud problem.
True Love or Marriage Fraud? The Price of Heartache was developed by Interfilm Productions and produced by Heartache Productions Inc. in association with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Knowledge Network, and with the support of Canada Media Fund, Rogers Cable Network Fund, the Canadian Film and Video Production Tax Credits, and Film Incentive BC.