Canadian secret squads to track marriages of convenience(Lead)

May 23rd, 2008 - 1:17 am ICT by admin  

By Gurmukh Singh
Toronto, May 22 (IANS) With increasing cases of foreigners coming to Canada through marriages of convenience and then dumping their partners, the Canadian government has reportedly sent secret squads to many countries to collect information on these weddings to stop the trend. Immigrant communities, including Indo-Canadians, which seek matrimonial alliances in their native countries, have been the major victims of such marriages.

The Globe and Mail, which is Canada’s most respected daily, reported Wednesday that the department of citizenship and immigration has sent teams, each comprising up to five members, to many countries to track information on these marriages.

Without identifying the target countries of these wedding spies or their modus operandi, government sources said they will collect information about fake marriages where photo shoots are enacted to get a visa, and send it to Canadian visa offices in those countries.

Visa officials are also being trained to ask better questions of the couples seeking life together in Canada, the paper said.

Under the current immigration system, someone in India can come to this country within six months after marrying a Canadian, while others wait up to six years.

Worse still, unlike countries like Australia where it is mandatory for a newly arrived spouse to spend at least two years with his or her partner to be eligible for permanent residency, Canada grants them this status immediately on arrival.

Not surprisingly, there have been cases where newly arrived brides, particularly from Punjab, have dumped their husbands on landing and disappeared from the airport.

Since most of these fraudulent marriages are arranged in Punjab, India is definitely under the scanner of these wedding squads.

Further, it is not uncommon for married Indo-Canadian men to go to Punjab and dupe foreign-crazy families into marrying their daughters with a huge dowry.

There have also been instances where people have entered into incestuous marriages on paper to bring their siblings to Canada.

Quoting immigration lawyers and consultants, the newspaper said they have come across everything from phony photos to the conception of children so that applicants can gain an edge in their bids to live in Canada.

There are thousands of victims of such marriages in British Columbia province where the majority of Indo-Canadians, mostly Punjabis, live.

According to the newspaper, Canadian immigration minister Diane Finley has sought cooperation from the provincial government “to warn and remind Canadians (read Indo-Canadians) and they will be on the hook financially if their new husbands or wives immediately leave them and apply for social assistance”.

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