Some people use marriage as a means of gaining Canadian citizenship. When someone gets married for the sole reason of immigrating to Canada, this is known as a marriage of convenience. Under Canada’s immigration law, marriages of convenience are considered immigration fraud and are not allowed. Marriage fraud affects both men and women from all ethnic groups. While official statistics are not readily forthcoming marriage frauds are common, so much so that several organizations have started campaigns against the practice. Usually victims meet their future spouses on vacations in a foreign land. Once the fraudsters arrive in Canada they abandon their spouses or fiancés. Some organizations have also been created to have elaborate fraud schemes. One such scheme was discovered when immigration officials spotted the same guests in the photographs from different wedding gatherings.
The so called marriages of convenience in which many Canadians marry foreigners only for the purpose of enabling that foreign person to immigrate to Canada have received attention recently due to reports that this fraudulent practice is on the increase. While the practice of marrying only to allow a bride or groom to immigrate to Canada is known to have existed for many years, in 2008 the Canadian government decided to adopt a new strategy to control it. The State has clandestine teams to fan out across foreign countries and gather raw information about elaborately staged phoney weddings aimed at duping Canadian immigration officials.
Commentators have noted the difficulty and perhaps the impossibility of determining such marriages which are phony and not real. Arranged marriages are common in many ethnic communities in Canada and that people meet and arrange long distance marriages by internet. Financial arrangements are typically part of the discussion between couples before they marry and that many marriages break down within months or a year after they were formed. What the State regards as fraudulent and those that are found more generally in society makes it very difficult to distinguish between the two. The great danger is that officials will deem legitimate marriages to be contrived ones. Several cases have come to light in which brides or grooms have been refused admission despite being genuine.
The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) (Canada) 2002 replaced the Immigration Act of 1976 for a major reason. The purpose was to protect Canada against potentially hostile immigrants and entry by fraudulent marriage was one of them. The act provides for the removal of anyone involved in human or international rights violations and this encompasses abandonment. It also makes easier for immigration officials to detain people on reasonable suspicion and refusing to give information to the immigration officials.