Immigrants and Family Law

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Immigration issues

Problems involving immigration usually crop up because one spouseUnder the ''Divorce Act'', either of two people who are married to one another, whether of the same or opposite genders. Under the ''Family Law Act'', married spouses, unmarried parties who have lived together in a marriage-like relationship for at least two years, and, for all purposes of the act other than the division of property or debt, unmarried parties who have lived together for less than two years but have had a child together. See "marriage" and "marriage-like relationship." has sponsored the other spouse into Canada, or a spouse is concerned about deportation once the relationship ends. The discussion that follows provides only an overview of some of these problems. If you have an immigration concern, you really should speak to a lawyerA person licensed to practice law in a particular jurisdiction. See "barrister and solicitor." who practises this kind of law.

Permanent resident spouses

In October 2012, the Government of Canada introduced a new rule that sponsored spouses are under a conditional permanent residency status for the first two years (with some exceptions). This condition was removed on April 28, 2017. In April 2017, the government introduced a rule that sponsored spouses or partners of Canadian citizens and permanent residents no longer need to live with their sponsor in orderA mandatory direction of the court, binding and enforceable upon the parties to a court proceeding. An "interim order" is a temporary order made following the hearing of an interim application. A "final order" is a permanent order, made following the trial of the court proceeding or the parties' settlement, following which the only recourse open to a dissatisfied party is to appeal. See "appeal," "consent order," "decision" and "declaration." to keep their permanent resident status. The government notice was published online.

This means that if your sponsor is abusive, you no longer need to worry about the threat of deportation or potential loss of status. Your residency status is no longer contingent on the length of the relationship. That being said, government of Canada will still continue to investigate complaints about marriage fraud (that is, if someone marries a Canadian citizen or permanent residenceThe geographic place where a person permanently lives. This is different from a person's "domicile" in that a person's residence is more fixed and less changeable in nature. A person's residence can also have an impact on a court's authority to hear and decide a legal action. See "domicile" and "jurisdiction." for the sole purpose of gaining entry into Canada).

The change applies to those who were under investigation under the previous rule. That is, if you left your spouse within two years of receiving your permanent resident status and the government of Canada was investigating you under the previous conditional permanent residency rule, they will no longer continue that investigation.

No matter what, your spouse may still remain responsible for supporting you and your children. If you are married, you will also remain entitled to claimThe assertion of a legal right to an order or to a thing; the remedy or relief sought by a party to a court proceeding. a share in the family assets.

Although your spouse still has an obligationA duty, whether contractual, moral or legal in origin, to do or not do something. See "duty." to support you as a sponsor, you will not lose your permanent resident status if you have to apply for welfare, although you will be expected to try to get support from your spouse. If your relationship ended because of abuse, you may not have to try to get support from your spouse. Speak to your caseworker or lawyer right away.

Non-resident spouses

If you do not have permanent resident status, you must seek legal advice and help right away, since the breakdown of your relationship with your sponsor may affect your ability to remain in Canada (if that is in fact what you would like to do). There are a number of agencies that help immigrants and refugees. Seek them out immediately.

Sponsoring spouses

If you have sponsored your spouse into Canada, you have certain obligations to continue to provide for your spouse's needs and the needs of any dependent children. These responsibilities are for a fixed amount of time, and you will have promised to support your spouse when you signed the immigration forms.

You have these responsibilities in addition to your responsibilities under the Divorce Act and the Family Law Act. A 2004 case of the Supreme CourtNormally referred to as the "Supreme Court of British Columbia," this court hears most court proceedings in this province. The Supreme Court is a court of inherent jurisdiction and is subject to no limits on the sorts of claims it can hear or on the sorts of orders it can make. Decisions of the Provincial Court are appealed to the Supreme Court; decisions of the Supreme Court are appealed to the Court of Appeal. See "Court of Appeal," "jurisdiction," "Provincial Court" and "Supreme Court of Canada.", Aujla v. Aujla, 2004 BCSC 1566 held that a sponsor's obligations under a sponsorship agreement were obligations between the sponsor and the federal government, separate from the sponsor's obligation to pay spousal supportMoney paid by one spouse to another spouse either as a contribution toward the spouse's living expenses or to compensate the spouse for the economic consequences of decisions made by the spouses during their relationship. under those Acts.

If you are a sponsor and your relationship has ended, contact an immigration lawyer right away to find out exactly what your rights and obligations are.

Resources and links




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