A 22-year-old Victoria woman claims she was misled by a man from India who, she says, married her to get into Canada and dropped her after he obtained his visa.
"He used me to get here. It's because of me he's here," said Kara Dhaliwall. "His family thinks Canadian people are stupid.… They think money can buy you a ticket into Canada."
She says she believes her husband, Neeraj (Sunny) Kanda, now lives in the Vancouver area without her. Because of that, the bride and her mother want him deported.
"If you love someone, you don't come here and not even make contact once you are here," Dhaliwall said.
"She is devastated," said Dhaliwall's mother, Jevan. "On her part it was true — from her heart — but on her husband's side, it was all about getting to Canada."
Wife allegedly threatened
Dhaliwall has filed complaints with police and immigration authorities, alleging that since her husband arrived, his friends and family have threatened her and offered her a payoff to keep quiet.
"His father told me … 'I'll give you $15,000.' And then I'm like, 'No, I don't want money, I just want him to contact me,'" said Dhaliwall.
"Then he said, 'OK, $20,000.' I'm like, 'I don't want money, don't you understand?' And he's like '$25,000, and then I'll give you another $10,000 and another $10,000 after a month.'"
CBC News tried to reach Kanda, 25, at a residence in suburban Richmond where Dhaliwall tracked him down, but received no response. A man at the home, who would not identify himself, said Kanda's B.C. lawyer would answer any questions.
However, lawyer Dennis McCrea didn't provide any information. Instead, he wrote: "Be wary of publishing anything that is libellous of my clients."
Dhaliwall is a third-generation Canadian of South Asian heritage. She met Kanda while travelling in Punjab last year. She said she didn't like him at first, but he pursued her and she fell in love.
His family held a lavish wedding for the couple in India in September.
Dhaliwall came back to Canada to arrange spousal sponsorship for her husband. She said his family sent her to business associates in B.C., who sent her to an immigration consultant who completed the required paperwork.
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"They had day-to-day contact," said her mother. "Every morning, every evening. On the phone, webcam and emails."
Dhaliwall travelled to India to see her husband over Christmas, then came back home again. Kanda's visa was approved in India in April, but Dhaliwall said he hasn't called her since.
Cut off contact
"She was on the phone to everybody.… She just kept calling Sunny's cellphone, but it was now turned off," said her mother.
Dhaliwall learned from border authorities that Kanda arrived in Vancouver soon after he received his visa. He listed her address as his place of residence, but she said she has seen him only once since he arrived — when she followed him from his new residence to a parking lot — and he avoided her.
"I felt like killing myself," Dhaliwall said tearfully. "I felt used."
Soon after Kanda arrived, Dhaliwall and her mother said friends of her husband's family began calling, demanding the bride accept a payment from her father-in-law and sign papers agreeing the marriage wasn't real. Jevan Dhaliwall said she heard the calls and they were threatening.
"'Kara, you know you need to sign these papers. That's Sunny's father's wishes. You need to meet with us,'" Dhaliwall quoted the callers as saying, "'You're a bitch. We're going to kill you. You are dead as far as Sunny is concerned.'"
"Then one of them said, 'I didn't just build the boat. I own the boat.'"
Police have since arrested one person for allegedly uttering threats. Saanich, B.C., police confirmed charges are pending.
"He's here as her husband. Nothing else. We are not signing any papers or any payoff," said Jevan Dhaliwall.
Internet postings discovered
Her daughter said she later discovered several postings on an Indian social networking site that appear to be written by her husband, boasting the marriage was all a sham.
"I don't care. Immigration and police can't do anything. My uncle is getting a lawyer … if I lied to get in to Canada, once I get the visa no one can take it again," says one posting next to a picture of Kanda.
"My dad and my uncle tell me not to worry, lots of people lie and fraud with Canada.… If she put a case, then we will get a lawyer and try and make it her fault … I don't care, I like Canada. India is too hot."
"We are the biggest fools," said Jevan Dhaliwall. "That's how I feel right now … seeing what he's done to her. So [Canada] has to send him back. He does not deserve to be here."
"I haven't heard a single story where people were sent back," said Raj Chouhan, a B.C. MLA who said the Dhaliwall case is just one of hundreds he has heard over the years.
"These people in India use the innocent Canadians to seek admission to Canada, and the government of Canada has a responsibility to stop it," Chouhan said.
'Disgusting,' says minister
"There's always money at some point involved in this," federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney told CBC News. "It's just so disgusting. It's an industry, actually."
Kenney estimated there are thousands of fake weddings involving Canadians every year. However, he said once the spouses are in Canada it is difficult, if not impossible, to prove that fraud occurred.
"How do you get an actual criminal conviction — proving that someone entered into the marriage and filled out immigration forms in bad faith — when they never get together and the other person says, 'We fell out of love, it was never meant to be'? How do you prove they were lying in a court of law?" asked Kenney.
The minister said he's considering suggestions from victims' advocates who want Canada to adopt a probation period for arriving spouses, as in the U.S. and Australia. Under those systems, sponsored spouses don't get legal status in their new country until they have lived with their spouses for a significant period.
"I agree ... that something has to be done to prevent this exploitation. Not only of individuals like her [Dhaliwall], but of our broader immigration system.
"I'm open to ideas."
Kenney did not say what, if anything, his department can do about Dhaliwall's situation now.
Dhaliwall said that no matter what her husband tells authorities, the fact remains he is not in Canada to be her husband and that should be enough to justify deportation.
"It's obvious. It's black and white. He didn't come to me when he got here."