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 really should speak to a lawyer 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 order 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 residence 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 claim a share in the family assets.
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, 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.
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.
- Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, SOR/2002-227
- Clicklaw Common Question: A friend was sponsored to come to Canada but the sponsor left her. What can she do?
- AMSSA Settlement Service Provider Directory
|This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by Taruna Agrawal, March 13, 2017.|
|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.|