Some ‘remarry’ in Canada without getting divorced
A reader from Trinidad recently wrote to me for advice about what she described as a “serious problem” with respect to her husband. Here is her letter, followed by my response:
Dear Mr. Ram.
I am seeking your advice about a serious problem. I hope you will be able to help me. It’s about my husband, Freddie, that “good-for-nothing,” and his “outside ” woman.
Freddie left our home in Trinidad and came to Canada looking for “betterment,” as he called it. That was more than ten years ago.
Before he left, he told me that he would find a job “up there” and send money back home to support our six pickneys and myself. He also promised to send for me and our children when he got settled in Canada.
True, at first Freddie used to send some money but he stopped sending me money a long time now. In fact, he has not been in touch with me by phone or letter for more than a year.
I have been making inquiries about his whereabouts and I found out that he
finally got his papers.I really do not know how he got through but Mr.Freddie
is now a permanent resident in Canada and he is remarried. He sent for his long-time “outside woman” in Trinidad and they got married.
Mr. Ram, the Canadian authorities and the general public should know what this man did. Tell me: what should I do?
Dear Worried Wife.
Your case is similar to several that have come to my attention over the years that I have been representing persons who have run into problems with the Canadian immigration authorities.
Some who have come to Canada leaving their spouses behind in the Caribbean, are willing to run the risk of being deported for lying to the immigration authorities about their marital status. Some have even “remarried” in Canada without getting divorced.
Under Canadian immigration law there are several programs under which a foreign national such as your husband may apply for permanent residence in Canada. For example, did he marry or was he in a common law relationship with a Canadian citizen or landed immigrant? And if so, did he apply for permanent residence with a supportive sponsorship from that person?
Or did he apply for convention refugee protection in Canada? application, He would then have to meet certain criteria as set out in the refugee definition and Canadian law.
Or did he apply for humanitarian and compassionate consideration? Again he has to meet the criteria.
Of course, there are other programs which are available and for which he may have applied – depending on factors such as his age, education, skills or job offer.
In all of these applications he would have to declare his marital status and any past relationships and other information with respect to divorce, separation, and his dependent and non-dependent children in Trinidad or elsewhere.
He has to answer truthfully all the questions in the various applications forms. If he fails to do so and this is brought to the attention of the immigration authorities at a later stage, he may removed from Canada and also barred for five years. As stated in my column last week, immigration authorities take a very serious view of misrepresentation.
Of course, under privacy laws, the immigration authorities will not divulge personal information that was disclosed to them in his applications to any person without his written consent.
I understand your plight as a spouse, and mother of his six children. But unfortunately, there is nothing I can do with respect to your situation.
You may wish to contact the office of the Canadian High Commission in Port of Spain, and provide them with a written detailed statement about your relationship with Freddie.
The Canadian authorities will then assess the merits of your claim by verifying the facts on his immigration application forms and supportive documents.
The investigators will also review his visitor’s application form submitted to the visa office. If upon investigation it was discovered that he failed to declare that you are his spouse and did not provide information about his children, the authorities may initiate proceedings against him for misrepresentation, which may lead to his removal from Canada.
It should be noted that the advice provided in this column is for information purposes only and anyone in this situation should seek independent legal advice.
SUKHRAM RAMKISSOON is a member of ICCRC and specialises in Immigration Matters at No. 3089 Bathurst Street, Suite 219A, Toronto, Ontario. Phone 416 789 5756.