Harassed hubbies in Canada mull legal options

Fed up with what they say is inaction by Citizenship and Immigration Canada [Images] and the Canada Border Services, about 74 people want to initiate a class action lawsuit against the government agencies.

The applicants are Canadian citizens or permanent residents who say they are ‘victims of immigration fraud marriages or relationship of convenience.’

They say that they have written to the CBSA and the CIC many times, requesting the agencies to investigate their complaints and take action against their former spouses, but the agencies have ‘failed to take action ‘in a timely and lawful manner pursuant to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.’

The representative applicant for the class action is Saranjeet Singh Benet, who in his court submission says he married Opinder Kaur Saini, 33, an Indian citizen, in 2003 but the marriage ‘was never consummated because, as she admitted, she had married me primarily for the purpose of acquiring immigration status in Canada.’

Before Saini arrived in Canada, Benet says, ‘At no point in time was there any hint of her ulterior motive or any cause of suspicion that the entire marriage was staged to defraud and cheat my family and I and to dupe the Canadian Immigration Department so that she may come to Canada and thereafter desert me. It was actually a marriage of convenience for her.’

He commenced annulment proceedings against Saini at the Superior Court of Justice in Brampton, Ontario, March 26, 2007 and then wrote a ‘series of complaints asking CIC and CBSA to investigate the case without any action on the part of the government agencies.’ 

The 73 other people who want leave of the court to join the class action have similar stories. Ramesh Maharaj of Toronto married Sudha Arora in India in 2003 and Maharaj says a few weeks after Arora landed in Toronto in 2007, she and her daughter — who came with her from India — moved out of his house.  

Benet says he initially filed his ‘complaint, report and supporting evidence on March 22, 2007, reporting a clear fraud being committed against the laws of Canada’, and against him as a sponsor by his sponsored spouse. His letter was acknowledged by the minister of citizenship and immigration June 9, 2007 but he received no further information and so he sent two other letters.

Finally, he received a response from Stockwell Day, who was then minister for public safety, who said ‘the issue of sponsorship falls under Citizenship and Immigration Canada but CBSA officers have a shared responsibility to investigate reports of marriages of convenience and related fraud.’

Nothing happened after that, Benet claims.

Nearly 300 men like him have established an organisation called Canadians Against Immigration Fraud to help ‘victims of immigration fraud by providing emotional support and rendering assistance to the Canadian government by supplying information collected as a result of research from victims of immigration fraud’.

They recently organised a demonstration outside the CIC office in Toronto asking the department to investigate marriage frauds.

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