Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Ahmed Hussen speaks to reporters outside the House of Commons on Parliament Hill on Thursday, May 31, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle

NDP MP calls letter to spouse applying for Canadian citizenship ‘offensive and insulting’

Federal NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan has asked Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen to look into what she calls a systemic problem

A letter sent by a Canadian immigration officer to a couple questioning the legitimacy of their marriage includes language that an NDP MP says is “offensive and insulting.”

Federal NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan has asked Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen to look into what she calls a systemic problem with the way Hussen’s department is treating citizenship applications under the spousal sponsorship program.

“To me, it’s completely inappropriate and I think it’s offensive and insulting,” Kwan said.

“I would like for the government to look at the systemic issue of this letter and why such letters are being sent out through those spousal sponsorship applications.”

The letter, from a Canadian immigration officer based in London, England, to a female applicant from Pakistan, says her permanent residency application appears suspect for a number of reasons — including that she is three years older than her husband, a Canadian citizen who has lived in Canada since 2005.

“You and your sponsor (husband) do not appear well matched,” the letter states, a copy of which was provided to The Canadian Press.

“You are three years older than him, he comes from a town four hours from where you live and you are not related, so it is unclear to me why the match was made.”

It is unusual for Pakistani men to marry older women, especially if they are not related, the unnamed immigration officer writes. The officer also notes their wedding guest list of 123 people was small compared to traditional Pakistani weddings.

“This apparent deviation from the cultural norm raises concerns that your wedding may have taken place in order for you to gain permanent residence in Canada.”

Related: Immigration nightmare separates woman from family

Related: Fix low incomes among family-class immigrants to help Canada’s economy: study

Kwan said she followed up with the department, only to find letters with such language are routinely sent to spousal sponsorship applicants from Pakistan to “‘tease out a response.’”

“Who are they judge whether or not that marriage is well-matched?” Kwan said.

“It’s one thing to say, ‘I do not believe in the authenticity of this marriage,’ it’s another to make a judgment on the quality of the marriage…. I find that offensive.”

Kwan raised the issue in question period this week and again with Hussen during a Commons committee meeting Thursday, asking for the government to review its treatment of spousal applicants.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defended the program during question period, saying he was pleased his government has reduced a backlog of applications under spousal sponsorship and has also reduced waiting times from two years to 12 months.

“We also know there is more to do,” Trudeau said.

Improvements to the program have been made, and scrutinizing spousal sponsorship applications is an important part of the work of his department, Hussen added.

“Our department continues to uphold measures to safeguard against marriage fraud and other program integrity risks.”

Indeed, it’s not uncommon for the immigration minister to become involved in cases involving spousal citizenship cases that go before the courts.

Last week, a Federal Court judge rejected a judicial review application from Hussen’s office in a spousal case that was initially rejected and then won on appeal. The office felt there was evidence contradicting the wife’s claim that her marriage to a Nigerian man in 2014 was legitimate.

Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Man pleads not guilty in 1987 slayings of Victoria couple

William Talbott of SeaTac was arraigned Tuesday in Snohomish County Superior Court

BC Supreme Court rules in favour of Victoria’s plastic bag ban

Court dismisses a challenge by the Canadian Plastic Bag Association

Officials worry of fire risk at homeless camp

Regina Park camp has grown to 77 tents

Crews search for missing kayaker near Sooke

The person was seen launching their kayak from Beecher Bay on Monday at noon

Forced to flee: public partakes in refugee simulation

Locals go through detailed scenarios in honour of World Refugee Day

Homeless people living on ‘Surrey Strip’ move into modular housing

BC Housing says 160 homeless people are being moved into temporary Whalley suites from June 19 to 21

Port of Prince Rupert names Shaun Stevenson as new CEO

Stevenson has worked for the port for 21 years as vice president of trade development

WEB POLL: Should illegal immigrants be separated from their children?

Should illegal immigrants be separated from their children?… Continue reading

Senate officially passes Canada’s marijuana legalization bill

Bill C-45 now moves to royal assent, which is the final step in the legislative process

Fake attempted abduction not funny to B.C. neighbourhood residents

Two teenage boys won’t face criminal charges after scaring girl

Mosquitoes out in full force already? Blame the weather

But a B.C. mosquito expert says the heat wave will help keep the pests at bay

New GOP plan: Hold kids longer at border – but with parents

Move would ease rules that limit how much time minors can be held with their parents

Without a big data strategy, Canadians at risk of being ‘data cows’

Presentation said artificial intelligence could give Facebook and Amazon even more power

Five B.C. families stuck in Japan as Canada refuses visas for adopted babies

Lawyer points to change in American policy around adoptions from Japan

Most Read