Marriage fraud

Some people think marriage to a Canadian citizen will be their ticket to Canada.

It is a crime for a foreign national to marry a Canadian citizen or permanent resident only to gain entry to Canada. We are working to prevent these false marriages.

In many cases, sponsors and foreign applicants set up a “marriage of convenience.” This is a marriage or common-law relationship whose sole purpose is to let the sponsored spouse or partner immigrate to Canada.

IRCC officers are trained to recognize real immigration applications. They know how to detect false marriages. They have many ways to spot marriage fraud, including:

  • document checks,
  • visits to people’s homes and
  • interviews with both sponsors and applicants.

Canadian citizens or permanent residents who are in a marriage of convenience for immigration reasons may be charged with a crime.

Requirement you must meet when in Canada

As a sponsored spouse or partner, you may be required to live with your sponsor in a genuine relationship for two years from the day you get permanent residence status in Canada.

This applies to you if at the time of the sponsorship application:

  • you have been in a relationship with your sponsor for two years or less,
  • you have no children in common

This condition doesn’t apply to situations of abuse or neglect.

On October 28, 2016, the Government of Canada proposed changes to this requirement. Find out more.

Don’t become a victim of marriage fraud

Are you a Canadian citizen or permanent resident? Have you met someone from another country on the Internet or while travelling? If so, think carefully before marrying them and sponsoring them to come to Canada.

Sponsors must give financial support to their spouse for three years, even if the marriage or relationship fails. If your spouse uses social assistance, you will have to repay the money. Also, you cannot sponsor anyone else until you repay the debt.

Sponsorship is a legal contract with the Government of Canada. You must meet its terms.

Sponsors: Do not be tempted by offers of money or other rewards to marry a person just so he or she can immigrate to Canada. If you do this, you may face serious criminal charges. You will also still have to meet the terms of the sponsorship.

Do not feel you must help somebody by being part of a marriage of convenience, no matter what the reason. It is not worth the risks.

Visa applicants: Do not get involved in a false marriage. We will refuse your visa and may ban you from travel to Canada for two years. This will stay on your IRCC record forever.

We know that even genuine marriages can fail. But, if you enter into a marriage of convenience and come to Canada as an immigrant, Canada may:

  • take legal action against you and
  • deport you from Canada.

Top questions about fraud and scams

What kinds of fraud should newcomers watch out for?

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