Spousal abuse a factor in citizenship case

In one of my recent columns I wrote about marriage of convenience and that a spouse’s permanent residence may be cancelled if he / she doesn’t meet the condition of landing. This law came into effect in October 2012.

In summary, the law states a permanent resident is inadmissible through failing to comply with any conditions imposed under the regulations. When a permanent resident is landed under a spousal sponsorship application they are subject to a condition that they must cohabit in a conjugal relationship with their sponsor for a continuous period of two years after the day on which they became a permanent resident.

The law also states that this condition ceases to apply to a permanent resident if an officer determines, based on evidence provided by the permanent resident, that that they are unable to meet the condition throughout the two-year period, because the permanent resident is subjected by the sponsor to abuse or neglect.

The law further states that   abuse consists of any of the following:

Psychological abuse, including threats and intimidation.

I will refer to a recent case in which the minister of citizenship and immigration alleged in a report that a permanent resident breached the terms of his landing as he did not cohabit in a conjugal relationship with his sponsored spouse for a continuous period of two years after landing and further the abuse does not absolve him of the cohabitation obligation.

They further alleged he was inadmissible to Canada because of this breach and that his permanent resident status should be cancelled. This case was referred to the Immigration Division for determination. Here are some relevant facts relating to this topic presented to the panel.

The following is a timeline of the uncontested facts:

  • September 2011, the parties met in Cuba. I will call them Joan (Canadian citizen and sponsor) and Frank (applicant).
  • Joan makes many trips to Cuba.
  • November 2012, they marry in Cuba.
  • December 2012, a sponsorship application is made.
  • Nov. 9, 2013, Frank arrives in Canada and cohabits with Joan.
  • Nov. 19, 2013, Frank leaves the matrimonial home and stays with a friend. Joan tries to contact him to learn why he left and to ask him to return to the matrimonial home.
  • Nov. 21, 2013, is Frank’s first day at work at an agricultural plant in the city and Joan goes to the plant around 11:30 p.m. knowing Frank will be finishing his shift. She wants to give him a ride back to Montréal and ask him why he left.
  • Frank agrees go back to Montreal with Joan and an incident takes place while en route.
  • Frank does not return to the matrimonial home.

The law states the parties must reside together for two years from the date the applicant is landed. The law also states that if a person is abused or mistreated and they can prove that then the provision of a two-year term can be off set.

Frank testified before the panel that Joan asked him to leave the matrimonial home several times, that his spouse has psychological problems and her mood swings are high and low and she had been under professional treatment for about two years prior to her husband arriving in Canada.

Shortly after her husband arrived she began a course at work which put additional stress on her. She previously failed the same course.

The stress manifested itself at home with Frank. For instance, Frank had done housework and Joan admitted she criticized the quality of his work. He had to wash her clothing again. She criticized him for washing the floor with Javex and Windex.  Joan said she was unsure if things would work out between them.

Joan was hospitalized for a suicide attempt immediately following the highway incident. The panel stated, while being distraught following a marital spat was a normal reaction, she tricked a service provider to obtain private client information respecting Frank’s cell phone account. It showed just how far she was willing to go with allegations of infidelity, theft, and her tight control.

Frank provided a psychological report in support of his defence where he was asked to leave the matrimonial home several times and she threatened to call police. The panel further ruled that where a sponsored person is asked to leave his sponsor and matrimonial home under threat and subject to intimidation, the demands constitute psychological abuse in term of the exception.

The panel concluded that Frank entered into a valid marriage with Joan and lived in a conjugal relationship with her until cohabitation ceased. The words and actions of Joan constituted psychological abuse, including threats and intimidation within the meaning of the law which forced Frank to cease cohabitation Joan, without fulfilling the residency obligation.

The allegation is therefore not founded and a favourable decision was rendered.

Sukhram Ramkissoon is a member of ICCRC and specializes in immigration matters at 3089 Bathurst St., Suite 219A, Toronto. Phone 416-789-5756.

Sukhram Ramkissoon
Sukhram Ramkissoon