Marriage fraud: Stories from victims
Are you a Canadian citizen or permanent resident?
Have you met someone from another country on the Internet or while travelling?
Some people think marriage to a Canadian citizen will be their ticket to Canada. You should think carefully before marrying someone and sponsoring them to come to Canada, especially if:
- you’ve just met,
- they want to get married quickly,
- they’ve been married or in a common-law relationship many times before,
- they haven’t shared very much information about their background or family.
If you sponsor your spouse, you must give them financial support for three years even if the marriage or relationship fails. Sponsorship is a legal contract with the Government of Canada. You must meet its terms.
If your spouse uses social assistance, you’ll have to repay the money. Also, you can’t sponsor anyone else until you repay the debt.
It is also a crime for a foreign national to marry a Canadian citizen or permanent resident only to gain entry to Canada.
Marriages of convenience
In some 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.
Our 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.
Don’t 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'll also still have to meet the terms of the sponsorship.
Don’t feel you must help somebody by being part of a marriage of convenience, no matter what the reason. It’s not worth the risks.
Don’t get involved in a false marriage. We’ll refuse your visa and may ban you from travel to Canada for five years. This will stay on your immigration record forever.
We know that even genuine marriages can fail. But, if you enter into a marriage of convenience to come to Canada as an immigrant, we may:
- take legal action against you,
- not allow you to enter Canada for five years, and
- deport you from Canada.
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, and
- 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.
Top questions about fraud and scams
- What happens if I owe IRCC money? Will you call to ask for unpaid fees?
- Will you ask me for personal information over the phone?
- Do you accept prepaid credit cards, Western Union, or Money Gram to pay my fees?
- If I have not paid fees, will you have me arrested or deported?
- I received threats from someone who says they are from the immigration department. Is it a scam?
- See all questions about this topic
Protect yourself from fraud
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