Immigrants and Family Law
Problems involving immigration usually crop up because one spouse 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 absolutely should speak with a lawyer who practices in this area.
If you leave your spouse while the sponsorship application is still in progress, you must inform immigration Canada of this change in your application. Failure to do so constitutes misrepresentation which is a ground for refusal of your Permanent Residence application. At this point, you may not be able to proceed with your sponsorship application for Permanent Residence, but there may be other options available to you that allow you to stay in canada. This is especially the case if you leave your partner due to abuse in the relationship. I urge you to speak to a lawyer at this point or contact Legal Services Society or other community resources to see if you qualify for a free lawyer.
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 order to keep their permanent resident status (Source- http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/department/media/notices/2017-04-28.asp).
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.
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, the government of Canada will still continue to investigate complaints about marriage fraud (that is, if someone marries a Canadian citizen or permanent residence for the sole purpose of gaining entry into Canada). This means that if you leave your spouse, there is a possibility that he or she may file a complaint of marriage fraud with IRCC. IRCC will then send you a letter with a 30 day deadline to respond to their concerns and tell your side of the story. At this point, I suggest seeking legal advice. You could also write to the IRCC officer and ask for an extension on the response date. This will buy you some time to find a lawyer. If you do not receive a positive response from the immigration officer, then you must respond by the date listed on the letter to avoid a removal order.
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 claim a share in the family property.
Although your spouse still has an obligation to support you as a sponsor, you will not lose your permanent resident status if you have to apply for welfare. If you do apply for welfare, keep in mind that you will be expected to try to obtain 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.
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.
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 Court, 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 support 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.
|This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by Taruna Agrawal, August 2, 2018.|
|JP Boyd on Family Law © John-Paul Boyd and Courthouse Libraries BC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada Licence.|
Normally 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."
A court established and staffed by the provincial government, which includes Small Claims Court, Youth Court and Family Court. The Provincial Court is the lowest level of court in British Columbia and is restricted in the sorts of matters it can deal with. It is, however, the most accessible of the two trial courts and no fees are charged to begin or defend a court proceeding. Small Claims Court, for example, cannot deal with claims larger than $25,000, and Family Court cannot deal with the division of family property or matters under the Divorce Act. See "judge" and "jurisdiction."
Under 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."
A person licensed to practice law in a particular jurisdiction. See "barrister and solicitor."
A request to the court that it make a specific order, usually on an interim or temporary basis, also called a "chambers application" or a "motion." See also "interim application" and "relief."
Acts or words tending or intended to give a misleading or false impression as to the true state of affairs. See "bad faith."
A term under the Family Law Act that describes the visitation rights of a person who is not a guardian with a child. Contact may be provided by court order or by the agreement among the child's guardians who have parental responsibility for determining contact. See "guardian" and "parental responsibilities."
A 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."
The 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."
The 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 term under the Family Law Act referring to property acquired by either or both spouses during their relationship, as well as after separation if bought with family property. Both spouses are presumed to be equally entitled to share in family property. See "excluded property."
A duty, whether contractual, moral or legal in origin, to do or not do something. See "duty."
Money 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.