Men Outnumber Women 2-1 Among Temporary Foreign Workers in Canada

Many temporary foreign workers are employed by immigrant-run businesses like the above, and data from Citizenship and Immigration Canada shows that the majority are men (CICS News)

The gender makeup of Canada’s foreign worker population is like that of foreign workers around the world, with men outnumbering women by a large margin.

The data, collected by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), shows that over 143,000 men entered the country in 2012 as temporary foreign workers (TFWs), over double the approximately 70,000 TFWs who were women.

Men, who are the primary breadwinner in most households around the world, are often driven to work abroad by pressure to provide for their families, when wages in their own country are inadequate.

A recent MacLean’s story on outgoing foreign remittance from individuals in Canada reports that the country has the highest foreign remittance rate in the world, at $667.57 per capita, suggesting that many of these TFWs are in fact sending the money they earn in Canada to family living in their country of origin.

Differences between genders in temporary foreign worker occupations

The CIC data also points to male and female TFWs tending to work in different types of occupations. While 75 percent of male TFWs worked in occupations that have well defined skill levels (e.g. managerial, professional, skilled and technical), only 40 percent of female TFWs did the same.

Six out of ten female TFWs were categorized as working in occupations where the skill level was not stated, which usually either means an individual is a family member of a foreign worker, or they are working in an unskilled occupation.

More women becoming permanent residents than men

Despite men outnumbering women in the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), slightly more women become permanent residents in Canada than men every year.

TFWs with skilled work experience in Canada can qualify for permanent residence through economic class immigration programs like the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) and Canadian Experience Class (CEC), however the number of men who become permanent residents through economic class programs is only slightly higher than the number of women.

This could suggest that more women apply for permanent residency from outside the country than men, making up for the larger number of men whose path to permanent residency was through the TFWP.

What puts women over the top in the total permanent residency numbers is the family class immigration programs, which grant 37 percent more women permanent residency than men, mostly as a result of more foreign women being sponsored for immigration by their Canadian spouse than foreign men.

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Parent and Grandparent Immigration Program to Re-Open in 2014

Citizenship and Immigration Canada announced on Friday that it is re-opening the Parent and Grandparent Sponsorship Program in January 2014, with new financial requirements and responsibilities for sponsoring children and grandchildren

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) announced on Friday that it will lift the moratorium on new Parent and Grandparent (PGP) permanent resident applications on January 2, 2014.

The program has been closed to new applications since November 2011 to give CIC time to work down the mounting backlog of parent and grandparent sponsorship applications.

Commenting on the program re-opening, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said:

“The Action Plan for Faster Family Reunification is on track to meet the goals of cutting in half the backlog and wait times in the Parent and Grandparent program. It is very important that we continue to make progress and not return to the old broken system with wait times as long as a decade—that would be unfair to families.”

CIC also said that the total number of parents and grandparents admitted as permanent residents through 2012 and 2013 will be 50,000 which is the highest level in 20 years, and it intends on maintaining these levels in 2014.

Another change announced on Friday is the Super Visa program, while allows foreign parents and grandparents of Canadians to visit Canada for up to ten years, for two years at a time, becoming permanent. Over 15,000 Super Visas have been granted since the program started in December 2011.

With regard to the Parent and Grandparent sponsorship program, CIC says they plan on accepting 5,000 new applications in 2014, and continue to reduce the backlog by processing applications faster than receiving them.

New financial requirements for Parent and Grandparent sponsorships

When the Parent and Grandparent sponsorship program re-opens next year, it will be with new qualifying criteria which will increase the financial responsibility of sponsors to ensure their parents and grandparents can be supported for the remainder of their life in Canada and to reduce the likelihood they will increase expenses for Canada’s social welfare programs.

Minimum income for sponsors will increase from the current Minimum Necessary Income (MNI), an income threshold used by the federal government to establish eligibility in many programs, to Minimum Necessary Income + 30 percent, to account for the greater costs of supporting an elderly person.

The type of proof of income that CIC will accept will be limited to documents from the Canada Revenue Agency, and the length of time that a person applying to be a sponsor has to demonstrate that they met the minimum income requirements will be increased from the current one year to three years.

Kenney said these changes are necessary to protect Canadians from being burdened by higher taxes as a result of sponsors having inadequate financial resources to support their sponsored parents and grandparents:

“These new criteria ensure sponsored family members are well supported by their sponsors throughout their time in Canada. The redesigned Parent and Grandparent program reunites families faster while respecting Canadian taxpayers and the limited resources for health and social programs.”

CIC says that Canada is one of the few developed countries to allow grandparent sponsorship, with this option either not existing or being extremely limited in United States, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, and measures like those announced Friday are needed to prevent this generosity from being abused.

Age limit on Dependent Children sponsorship

The Dependent Children sponsorship program is also going to see maximum age limit of 19 years imposed, disqualifying those older than 19 years old from being considered dependent children even if they are full time students or financially dependent on their parents.

The change was made after research by CIC found that many of those qualifying as dependent children were in their late 20s or 30s, and that those who immigrate at an older age have a lower likelihood of successfully integrating into the Canadian labour market and have poorer socioeconomic outcomes than those who immigrate at a younger age.

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Family Class Immigration Increases by 15% in 2012

Family class permanent residence applications increased by 15 percent in 2012 over the year before according to Citizenship and Immigration Canada

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) announced on Tuesday a 15 percent increase in the number of individuals admitted under the family class immigration program in 2012 over the year before.

In the announcement, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney promoted CIC’s faster processing of family class applications:

“By reducing the backlog through increased admissions, we have dramatically reduced wait times so that parents and grandparents no longer have to wait close to a decade to be reunited with their loved ones.”

The increase in admissions occurred despite CIC having stopped accepting new applications under the Parent and Grandparent stream of the family class program in November 2011. The moratorium on new Parent and Grandparent sponsorship applications likely contributed to the reduction in the program backlog.

CIC is targeting a 50 percent reduction in the family class application backlog and in the processing time of applications in 2013.

The department has been moving away from sponsorship of Parent and Grandparents for permanent residence, and moving toward extended temporary stays, with the creation of a new ‘Parent and Grandparent Super Visa’ in December 2011 that allows unlimited re-entries for parents and grandparents of Canadians for up to ten years, and allows them to stay in Canada for two years on each visit.

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Toronto Star Reports On Government Efforts Against Marriage Fraud

Efforts by Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency and the RCMP seem to be reducing the number of fraudulent marriage sponsorships (Ra Boe)

The Toronto Star, the most widely circulated newspaper in Canada, published a story on Wednesday that describes the marriage sponsorship fraud that authorities are clamping down on and some of the obstacles the anti-abuse measures are imposing on Canadians seeking to sponsor foreign spouses.

The article, by the Toronto Star’s immigration reporter, Nicholas Keung, profiles Sarem Soomro, whose marriage sponsorship application was rejected by Canadian immigration officials due to the education and age gap between the younger, high-school educated, Soomro, and his Pakistani wife, who has a degree in economics.

Despite showing logs of Facebook chats, wedding photos, receipts, and a wedding certificate, authorities did not accept the sponsorship application.

In another case, a spouse who was already living in Canada while the sponsorship application was being reviewed received a surprise visit at her home which convinced the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) that the marriage was a fraud:

That occurred in a case where border officers noticed the address on Xiu Yi Xuan’s driver’s licence was different than the address of her Canadian husband.

In a scene reminiscent of the 1990 romantic comedy Green Card, about a marriage of convenience, the Canada Border Services Agency made an unannounced visit to the couple’s Markham home to investigate.

Xuan, a failed refugee claimant from China, was home at the time and unable to produce her husband’s toothbrush (she claimed they shared one). She couldn’t say whether her husband used an electric razor or a disposable one, nor could she show the officer any evidence of his socks or underwear.

Despite other indications it was a genuine marriage — joint bank accounts, joint insurance, joint donations and ownership of a Stouffville property — Xuan was arrested. The couple’s spousal sponsorship was rejected and, most recently, their appeal to Federal Court denied.

The two types of immigration fraud that Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) encounters, Keung notes, are cases where a foreign national manipulates and defrauds a Canadian, in order to get sponsored by them for permanent residence, and then leaves them once they have gotten what they wanted, and cases of collusion between the Canadian and the foreign national, where both understand that the primary purpose of the marriage is to provide the foreigner with Canadian permanent residency.

CIC has made changes to sponsorship rules to reduce the incidence of the first type, including instituting an initial two year probationary permanent resident status for sponsored spouses. Under the new rules, if the foreign spouse leaves their Canadian partner within that two year period, due to reasons other than neglect or abuse, their conditional permanent residency status is repealed.

The RCMP has had some successes prosecuting crime rings involving the second type of marriage fraud, including one where nearly 300 Canadian women, mostly of Haitian descent, were sponsoring men from North Africa in exchange for money.

The changes by the involved government agencies seem to be having an effect, with more people being deported on charges of sponsorship fraud annually, and a higher percentage of marriage sponsorship applications being found inadmissible due to lack of evidence of a genuine marriage.

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Canadian Immigration Department Releases TV Ad Warning of Marriage Fraud

A new television ad warns Canadians that their foreign spouse could just be using them to get a ticket to Canada (Citizenship and Immigration Canada)

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) began airing a television ad today warning Canadians of the dangers of marriage sponsorship fraud.

The ad tells Canadians that some foreign individuals seek out Canadians and feign genuine affection for them, in order to convince the Canadian to marry them and sponsor them for permanent residence.

The ruse is part of a ploy to get into Canada, something that would otherwise require meeting the federal government’s stringent and often unattainable requirements.

Victims of marriage fraud are legally responsible to pay for any social assistance that their foreign spouse uses while in Canada for a period of three years, which can cost them tens of thousands of dollars per year.

CIC also posted a seven minute video on its website today recounting the story of three Canadians who were victims of marriage fraud: an Anglophone woman, a Francophone man, and an Indo-Canadian Anglophone man, showing that this crime can affect any one.

The video (below) and the 30 second television ad (bottom) can be seen here:

New rules

CIC instituted a new rule last October requiring that a foreign spouse who has not had a child with their Canadian spouse be required to be in a relationship with their spouse in Canada for two years before they are granted full permanent residency status.

For the two year period, the foreign spouse can live in Canada under a provisional permanent resident status, that can be revoked if the relationship does not last the whole period, unless there is evidence of abandonment or abuse by the Canadian spouse.

In March 2012, CIC also began barring individuals who had been sponsored as a spouse or common-law partner, from sponsoring a new spouse or common-law partner for five years.

The new rules were motivated by the fallout from stories from Canadians like Lainie Towell, who brought national attention to the issue of marriage fraud in 2009, when she went public with allegations that her Guinean husband left her 29 days after arriving in Canada, in 2007.

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Canadian Immigration Department Enacts New Marriage Sponsorship Rules

Under rules announced today, sponsored spouses will receive conditional permanent residence upon arriving in Canada and be required to live with their spouse or partner for two years to receive full permanent residence

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) introduced new spousal immigration sponsorship regulations today to reduce the incidence of marriage fraud. The new rules require sponsored spouses who have no children with their sponsor to be in a live-in relationship with their spouse for two years to get full permanent residence status.

Under rules in place until today’s announcement, a sponsored spouse received permanent residence on the day they arrived in Canada, and subsequently could leave their spouse and retain their residency status in Canada.

Calls to reform immigration sponsorship rules have increased as several high-profile cases, like those of Lainie Towell and Heinz Munz, have brought the issue of foreign spouses leaving their Canadian husbands and wives soon after arriving in Canada to the public’s attention.

The new rules will not apply to sponsored spouses who have a child with their sponsor on the date of their spousal sponsorship application submission. The regulation also includes an exemption for sponsored spouses or partners who suffer abuse or neglect from their Canadian partner or someone related to their partner.

Those not exempt from the regulation must be in a relationship with their sponsoring spouse or partner for two years from the date that they receive their permanent residency or have their status in Canada revoked.

“I have consulted widely with Canadians, and especially with victims of marriage fraud, who have told me clearly that we must take action to stop this abuse of our immigration system,” said Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney in announcing the new rules.

“Sometimes the sponsor in Canada is being duped and sometimes it’s a commercial transaction. Implementing a two-year conditional permanent residence period will help deter marriage fraud, prevent the callous victimization of innocent Canadians and help us put an end to these scams.”

Until today’s announcement, Canada was one of the few countries that did not have an initial conditional permanent residence period for foreign nationals sponsored for immigration by a spouse, and consequently, CIC says was considered a “soft target” by criminal organizations seeking to exploit Canadian immigration rules.

Several large-scale marriage scams have been uncovered in recent years, including the case of over 600 people involved in trading marriage sponsorships for money between 2007 and 2009.

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Russian Bride Ditches Canadian Pensioner, Collects $25K in Welfare On His Dime

BC resident Heinz Munz is being ordered to pay nearly 25 thousand dollars after his Russian bride left him and began collecting social assistance (Jeff Belmonte)

An elderly Russian woman left her Canadian husband and subsequently collected nearly $25,000 in social assistance payments that have been charged to the 82 year pensioner who sponsored her immigration to Canada, said the Canadian man affected.

In an interview with the CBC, BC resident Heinz Munz said he had no idea that his Russian ex-wife, Polina Telyuk, was receiving social assistance until he received the $24,899.34 bill from the BC provincial government:

“When she applied for assistance, they should have told me. They never did.”

Under Canadian immigration law, a Canadian permanent resident or citizen can sponsor their foreign spouse for Canadian permanent residence, but is financially responsible for any financial assistance their spouse receives from the government for three years from the date they become a permanent resident.

Munz said in the interview that he began paying the bill for Telyuk’s social assistance payments because he feared his home could be seized by the government if he didn’t.

He said he did not suspect there was any thing amiss until his Russian wife, who he had met on the internet, left him, as she was “so nice” to him up to that point. Munz said that the day after Telyuk received her permanent resident papers, she left in a taxi with her daughter, laughing and chatting in Russian.

Possible reforms

Munz complained to the RCMP and Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), but nothing came of it. Allegations of marriage fraud typically do not end in charges being laid, as it is usually difficult to prove the sponsored party broke any law by planning to marry their partner to immigrate to Canada and then leave them.

Experts for years have cited examples like Munz’ to make the case for toughening immigration sponsorship rules. Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said that new rules would soon be put in place requiring sponsored spouses to live with their Canadian spouses for two years to be eligible for permanent residency.

This is similar to a rule in place in the US, which gives a two year ‘conditional resident status’ to sponsored spouses, after which they can apply for permanent residency if they have met all of the eligibility conditions.

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Charges Laid in Marriage Immigration Scam Involving More Than 600 People

The RCMP investigation into the alleged 'marriage of convenience' fraud has now moved to the stage of laying charges. (Vince Alongi)

The RCMP laid charges against 39 people on Tuesday for their part in a marriage scam involving Canadian women marrying North African men and sponsoring them for Canadian permanent residency, in exchange for money. The RCMP investigation has so far uncovered 315 marriages, involving over 600 people, that it believes to be fraudulent, and it’s possible more people will be charged in the future.

The group arrested on Tuesday are having a total of 78 charges laid against them, including for misrepresentation and procuring feigned marriage. The alleged organizer of the scam is unlicensed immigration consultant Amado Niang, who was indicted on 42 counts.

He allegedly found Canadian women, many of Haitian descent, and offered them an arrangement whereby they would get paid to marry men from North African countries who were in Canada and had visas that were close to expiry. Mr. Niang appeared in court in Montreal on Tuesday and has another hearing scheduled for October 23rd.

Project Conjugal, the RCMP investigation that led to the charges, began in 2009 with the purpose of investigating suspicious marriages that took place between 2007 and 2009, and lead to the dismantling of the alleged criminal organization behind the scam in February. The purpose of the investigation is now to lay charges against those allegedly involved.

Reform of Immigration Rules

In an effort to reduce marriage sponsorship fraud, the Canadian government this year changed spousal sponsorship rules to bar a sponsored spouse from sponsoring a new spouse for at least five years after they are granted permanent residence.

The Department of Citizenship and Immigration has also proposed that Canada adopt the US-style sponsonship process of granting sponsored spouses a two year ‘conditional resident status’, after which they can apply for permanent residency if they have met all of the conditions required of them, instead of the current process of granting permanent residency to sponsored spouses immediately upon their arrival in Canada.

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Guinean Deported In Spousal Sponsorship Case Marries New Canadian Woman

Soumah, who was deported back to the West African country of Guinea this year, is appealing the deportation order based on the results of a new paternity test that his lawyer says shows he did not lie about not having a dependent (CIA)

A Guinean man who was deported from Canada after his Canadian wife and sponsor for permanent residence alleged that he lied to her about a child he had fathered and walked out on her three weeks after arriving in Canada has married another Canadian woman, it has emerged.

Lainie Towell married Fode Mohamed Soumah, a native of Guinea and ten years her junior, and sponsored him for immigration to Canada in 2007. Soon afterward, Towell learned in a phone call from a mutual friend in Guinea that Soumah had fathered a child with a 15 year old girl in his home country. She also discovered emails that Soumah had sent to his friends that led her to believe that Soumah was the baby’s father.

The Immigration and Refugee Board agreed with Towell and ordered Soumah deported in 2009 for not having declared his dependent to Towell during his application for permanent residence. In February 2012, after three years of appeals, Soumah was deported from Canada.

The new development in this story is Soumah’s marriage to another Canadian woman, Cassandre Blier, who he met 16 months after his marriage with Towell ended.

Blier and Soumah filed a lawsuit on July 23rd seeking to ban the publication of Towell’s book about the events, How to Catch an African Chicken: A Canadian Woman’s Outrageous but True Story of Marriage Fraud. A Superior Court of Québec justice ordered the sale and marketing of the book halted for 30 days to prevent potential damage to Soumah’s reputation.

The lawyer representing the married couple in the suit, Denis Roumestan, says that a paternity test proves with 100 percent certainty that Soumah is not the father of the child. He also said that Soumah is appealing the deportation order in light of the paternity test.

Towell is not backing down, insisting her book is an accurate account of events, and says she feels sorry for Soumah’s new wife and believes she is a victim.

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Foreign Sponsored Spouses of Canadians to Face Tougher Rules

A proposed new federal rule aims to clamp down on immigration fraud committed by foreign spouses of Canadians. This type of fraud involves a foreigner marrying a Canadian and getting their Canadian spouse to sponsor them for Canadian permanent resident status, then getting a divorce once they have gotten their permanent residency.

The new rule would allow Immigration Canada to deport a foreign spouse if the marriage does not last two years. The proposal for a two year probationary period will be open to public input until early April. The Canadian government is planning to enact it in late summer.

The Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration has already started tightening spousal visa rules. On March 2nd it ruled that a foreign spouse who divorced her husband had to wait five years before sponsoring a new partner.

Marriage fraud has become the focus of much attention recently with a series of high profile cases involving Canadians being defrauded by their foreign spouses. The most notable of these is the one of Lainie Towell, who married Fode Mohamed Soumahm, a native of Guinea, and sponsored him for Canadian permanent resident status, only to have him walk out on her three weeks after he had arrived in Canada. Mr. Soumahm was eventually deported, three years after arriving in Canada.

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