Work permit for the spouse of a student in Canada can be refused if marriage not genuine

By Sukhram Ramkissoon

A reader recently contacted my office and stated that she is in Canada on a student permit.  She recently traveled to her home country and married a person whom she has known for approximately two years and they are in a genuine relationship.   She is wants him to join her in Canada on a work permit.  “Is this possible?” she asked. She also requested that I publish my reply so that it may assist others in her situation and refer to her as STUDENT.

Dear Student,

The Immigration Refugee and Protection Act states the following: A foreign national shall not study or work in Canada unless authorized to do so.

It allows a foreign national to apply for a work permit if they are related to a person holding a study permit.  In your case, it is clear that you are on a study permit and are the spouse of the person who is applying for a work permit.

I am now going to explain some of the hurdles your spouse may face in obtaining a work permit, since it is nothing automatic simply because he is married to you.

This case described below concerns the decision of a visa officer in New Delhi, India, who was refused an application for a work permit for an accompanying spouse of an Indian national who is in Canada on a study permit.   As stated, a spouse is eligible to apply for a work permit if the other spouse is in Canada on a study permit.  

Here is a recent Federal Court decision with respect to this issue:

In February 2019, the Officer refused the work permit application on the basis that an  applicant had failed to provide sufficient evidence or explanation to support his claim that his  marital relationship to his spouse is genuine or not he did not enter into the marriage primarily for the purpose of acquiring a status or privilege under the IRPA.  The Officer also found the Applicant is inadmissible to Canada as a result of misrepresentation, which carries a five-year bar on re-entry to Canada.  As a result of this decision he sought judicial review of the decision which was dismissed.   

So, here are some brief facts of the case:

Mr.  Singh (the “Applicant”) is a 25-year-old national of India.  He recently married Ms. Kaur, a 23-year old national of India, who is currently in Canada on a study permit.

The Applicant and Ms. Kaur are both residents of Punjab.  Through family connections, they were set up to be in an arranged marriage.  The families met on January 2018, which was around the same time that Ms. Kaur submitted her application for a study permit in Canada.  Ms. Kaur had drafted her application also in January 2018, and submitted it to her immigration consultant, who filed it on January 31, 2018.

The arranged marriage proceeded quickly after the families met, as the Applicant was the eldest of two sons and his family was keen on an early marriage for their son.  On February 1, 2018, a small engagement ceremony was held.  The marriage took place later in February 2018, with religious ceremonies and a large gathering of friends and family.  After the wedding, the couple visited various relatives.  Ms. Kaur states in her affidavit that she was with the Applicant’s family for over two months prior to her departure to Canada.

Ms. Kaur received her visa on March 2018.  She left for Canada on April 13, 2018.  Ms. Kaur alleges that upon landing, she informed the immigration officer at the airport about her change in marital status.

On or about June 2018, the Applicant submitted his work permit application as an accompanying spouse to the Canadian Visa Officer in New Delhi.  The Applicant was invited for an interview, which was conducted in New Delhi in November 2018, the interview was conducted in New Delhi.

Immigration records indicate that Ms. Kaur had been single when she applied for her student permit and married shortly before her visa was issued.  Ms. Kaur arrived in Canada soon after the wedding but did not inform the visa office or the immigration officer at the port of entry that her marital status had changed.

During the interview, the Officer noted several concerns regarding the bona fides of the marriage between the Applicant and Ms. Kaur, such as the incompatibility of education; the hastily finalized marriage; the inability of the Applicant to explain how the wedding could have been arranged in 3-4 days; the Applicant’s lack of knowledge on the fact that Ms. Kaur had been planning to go to Canada; the fact that the photographs did not show the stated attendance of 250-300 guests at the wedding; the Applicant’s lack of holiday with Ms. Kaur and the Applicant’s inability to provide an explanation when questioned; the Applicant’s lack of knowledge of Ms. Kaur; and the limited evidence of contact between the Applicant and Ms. Kaur.

In February 5, 2019, the Officer refused the work permit application based on his interview and supporting documents and found that the marriage was not genuine, and its purpose was for the applicant to acquire a status or privilege under the Act.  The applicant’s judicial review application was dismissed. 

So, it is clear that for your spouse to obtain a work permit he must establish that his marriage is genuine and not for immigration purposes.  Hope the information provided will be helpful in having your husband join you in Canada.   Good luck.

This article is for information purposes only and should not be interpreted as legal advice.  Persons should seek their own independent legal advice,

 SUKHRAM RAMKISSOON is a member of ICCRC and specializes in Immigration Matters at No 3089 Bathurst Street, Suite 219A, Toronto, Ontario.  Phone 416 789 5756.