In Spousal/Common Law Sponsorship
Mary Keyork
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Love and betrayal- CBSA investigation on the genuineness of a relationship

We first met Maria later in the evening in December, when she stopped by our office to discuss the permanent residence process; she was distraught and appeared very stressed. Her relationship with her husband had been crumbling, and Maria was not sure whether there was anything an immigration law firm could have done for her.

She was ashamed that her love story did not turn out exactly as she would have dreamt when picking a wedding dress and coordinating the color scheme for the wedding theme. She was heartbroken that her husband, the man with whom she thought had built a loving and healthy relationship and with whom she was planning to start a family, would betray her and leave her shortly after he arrived in Canada.

Maria first met her husband, Paul, when she was taking a vacation with friends in Bali three years ago, in early spring of 2013. He was charming and kind and happened to work as a diving instructor on the island. Maria was very excited to finally take some diving lessons, as she always wanted to.

Maria learned how to swim at a very early age, and water was always her element. Getting a driving license was her dream for a very long time and finally, it was about to become real. Maria decided to take the full 10-day licensing course; coincidentally she also happened to like the instructor. However, she was never a big fan of long distance and did not plan to start a relationship with Paul.

The lessons were intense, but Maria enjoyed them every single day. In the evenings, she would spend time with her friends and Paul would frequently join them. Shortly after, both realized that they liked each other and had so much in common that keeping in touch after Maria left for Canada only seemed natural.

After going back to Canada, Maria and Paul quickly established a routine; in the mornings they would call each other on Whatsapp, and on the weekends they would chat on video calls. It was a challenging time for the couple, but also rewarding. All they had was communication tools, and the distance required the use of communication tools so they could get to know each other and build a relationship.

About two months into their long-distance relationship, Paul confessed his love to Maria, and they officially became a couple. Both realized that distance was going to be challenging and their relationship would not be anything like they had before. However, they decided to give it a try and did their best to keep in touch throughout the day and planned the next visits.

Unfortunately for Maria, her family was not thrilled about their relationship; her sister especially was against it, since she heard many stories from her friends experience when Canadian citizen was tricked into a relationship and was used just to get a permanent residence in Canada.

There is always a risk that long distance does not work out or that it is simply an attempt on the part of a foreigner to get permanent residence in Canada. However, Maria was confident that her relationship with Paul was different; after all, she was the one spending time with him, and she believed he was genuine about his feelings.

Indeed, when Paul found out that Maria was from Canada, he told her during one of their diving lessons that he always wanted to move to Canada, but never actually looked into it, as it seemed like a long and complicated process.

Maria did not consider this as a red flag, unlike her sister, who didn’t trust Paul and was very skeptical of their relationship. Maria did not become alarmed by this, as she sincerely believed that the fact that he did not hide that information from her was a good indicator of his honest character.

In October of 2013, Maria left for Bali for a week to visit Paul; she was very excited and was looking forward to their reunion since she last saw him seven months ago. The week flew by, and when Maria went back to Canada, she was even more confident that her relationship with Paul was genuine. She visited him again in April of 2014 and then in October 2014, when Paul asked her to marry him. The proposal was very romantic; he set up a small candle and flowers table on the beach.

While the engagement did not come off as a surprise, the proposal caught Maria off guard. She was excited to start a new chapter in her life with a man she believed she would grow old together. Before the proposal, Paul and Maria already discussed the prospects of their life together and decided that it would be more beneficial for the couple if Paul moves to Canada.

While Maria would be able to move to Bali, since she was a yoga instructor and would not mind trying to establish herself in Bali, Paul convinced her that regarding financial security Canada seemed like the best option. Shortly after the proposal, the couple started planning the wedding for the May of 2015.

With her day and yoga classes in the evening, Maria struggled to keep the same level of communication with Paul; however, she noticed he was also not very involved in the planning. Text messages would become less frequent, and the calls would only happen if Maria called Paul.

Maria’s sister did not like that Paul was acting cold and slightly disinterested and tried to warn Maria. Maria, however, was convinced that Paul’s behavior was just wedding jitters and everything would go back to normal once they are married and his sponsorship application is approved.

On May 23, 2015, the couple got married in Bali with close friends and family present. They had a small but beautiful ceremony and spent a week together honeymooning on the island before Maria had to leave for Canada. Once she arrived in Canada, Maria started the process of spousal sponsorship, and in June 2016 the application was approved.

Maria was excited to finally have her husband with her and was hoping that his behavior would change once they are together. The time apart was very hard, and Paul was not always as kind to her as he was at the beginning of their relationship.

However, love is blind, and Maria would never believe that at the end he simply used her to get to Canada. After all, they have been through so much together already and survived the distance.

The day Maria was supposed to go pick up Paul from the airport promised to be one of the best and most memorable days in her life. Unfortunately, it turned out to be the day Maria’s heart would be broken.

Paul was cold; he was complaining during their entire ride back, but Maria thought it was because of the stress. Later in the evening, he sat with her and told her that he needed to take a break from their relationship because he was not sure how he felt about her. Maria was shocked; how could Paul do that to her? Suddenly, all her suppressed worries that he had been using her all along became a reality.

She cried and cried, and did not even notice that he already left. After six days of not hearing from him, she finally gathered the courage and called her sister to tell her what happened. Surprisingly, her sister was very understanding and did not resort to usual “I told you so”.

However, she was very adamant, that Maria should get in touch with an immigration law firm because after all Paul used her to get to Canada and faked his way to permanent residence. It is important to realize that family reunion programs in Canada are aimed for those who have genuine feelings towards each other and just happen to have different nationalities.

As her sister explained to her, this was not only betrayal of Maria, but also family values that Canada’s immigration system embraces. Contacting an immigration law firm to figure out what can be done is the least Maria owed to herself; it was not a punishment for Paul, but the first step towards healing from this painful end of her relationship.

While her sister was right, Maria still waited until December to contact the immigration law firm, because she was hurting and hoping he would come back.

Sadly, Paul did not get in touch with her after their first and last conversation, and she knew it was over. He simply used her; she had to accept the reality and finally gathered the courage to move towards the healing process from her failed marriage.

Maria contacted our office to obtain some advice. We advised her that she can submit a package to Canada Border Services Agency detailing her entire story with ideally some paper evidence and request CBSA to open an investigation. Should the investigation go through, Paul will be interviewed by immigration, and it will be determined whether he is allowed to maintain his permanent resident status. We comforted her by advising her that immigration takes these matters very seriously.

Maria decided to put in the investigation package.