By Sukhram Ramkissoon
These are some of the relevant facts in a spousal sponsorship appeal recently concluded by the Immigraton Appeal Division (Montreal) in early December.
The sponsor, who I will call (A), was born in Trinidad and Tobago in 1985 and the applicant, who I will call (B), was born in Algeria in December 1984. They married in a civil ceremony in Algeria in December 2009. It was a first marriage for both and neither has children.
A sponsored B for a permanent resident visa and the same was refused in March 2011 as the visa officer was of the opinion the marriage was entered primarily for the purpose of acquiring status under the act and it was not genuine. A appealed the matter and after a full hearing a decision was rendered in December 2014.
At the hearing A and B testified and after considering the testimony, documentary evidence and submissions of counsel the panel rejected the appeal.
As mentioned above, A was born in Trinidad and Tobago and she and her father were sponsored by her stepmother. She was landed in 1991.
In 2004 she went to work for a company as a secretary where she was still working at the time of the hearing. In 2008 a lady by the name of D started working at the same company. D came from Algeria and her family and A are longtime friends.
According to A, she and D took a photo of themselves which D sent to her parents in Algeria along with other photos. One day, B dropped by D’s parents’ home and her mother showed him the photos including the one with A. B liked what he saw and he asked D for A’s email address which she gave him after consulting with A.
Thus began an exchange of messages, supplemented by several phone calls discussing plans.
B got his wish fulfilled as on July 22, 2009, A arrived in Algeria and stayed until July 30, 2009. B proposed marriage to A on the fourth day of her trip and they underwent a religious marriage the next day. A testified about only getting engaged during this trip.
A returned to Algeria for her second trip on Dec.16, 2009, and went back to Canada on Jan. 1, 2010. They were married in Algeria in a civil ceremony on Dec. 22, 2009. A took a third and last trip to Algeria from Dec. 19, 2012, to Jan. 1, 2013.
The panel stated in its reasons that it finds it fanciful that a 24-year-old man, who had never been in a serious relationship with a woman in his life, would suddenly fall head over heels in love with a woman he had never met in person.
The panel notes that this young man, who appears to be in perfect health, did not arrange for the time or place to consummate his marriage after the religious ceremony before his bride returned to Canada. According to their testimony they had their first sexual relationship during the appellant’s second trip although there were no impediments once they had undergone the religious ceremony.
The panel notes that, during the course of their relationship, they have spent a little over a month together. The panel also notes that the short courtship prior to the religious marriage cannot be explained by Algerian customs. The “marriage was not arranged in any special sense of the word.”
They have very little in common except that they are compatible in terms of age. B described himself as a practising Muslim and A is Catholic.
B’s mother tongue is Kabyle; he needed help to write his emails in French, the language they communicate in. A’s mother tongue is English.
There is a factor pulling B to come to Canada. His sister, who was sponsored by her Algerian-born husband, lives here. They have four children. B’s parents have also come to Canada for long visits.
Indeed, according to the visa officer, B told him he was introduced to A by his sister, who, of course, also knows D, the person they named in their testimony as the introducer.
The panel also notes there is a push factor for B to leave Algeria. The country has a high rate of unemployment among young people and he declared he was unemployed between June 2002 and March 2008. He finished school in Grade 8 and he is working for his brother as a truck driver, earning the equivalent of $350 – $400 a month.
The panel cannot determine if A is a vulnerable woman who had been in two failed relationships and who fell in love with B or whether she is just helping out B’s sister, with whom she has become good friends, to bring him to Canada.
However, the panel finds, on a balance of probabilities, that B entered into this marriage for the purpose of immigrating to Canada and that he is not committed to the marriage.
The panel ruled the marriage was entered into primarily for the purpose of acquiring any status or privilege under the act and is not genuine and dismissed the appeal.
Sukhram Ramkissoon is a member of ICCRC and specializes in immigration matters at 3089 Bathurst St., Suite 219A, Toronto. Phone 416-789-5756.