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

Road work closes a section of Richter Street in Kelowna

Installation of a new water main has closed the portion between Stockwell and Cawston Avenues

New summer bus route for West Kelowna

Gellatly Road service expanded on weekends, holidays

Paynter’s market is officially re-open

The West Kelowna staple is open again for the summer season

UPDATE: Police watchdog looking into high velocity crash on Highway 33

A motor vehicle incident has closed Highway 33 in both directions

Marijuana to be legal in Canada Oct. 17: Trudeau

Prime Minister made the announcement during question period in the House of Commons

In reversal, Trump signs executive order to stop family separation

President had been wrongly insisting he had no choice but to separate families apprehended at border

Hergott, does he hate cell phones?

Lawyer Paul Hergott puts to rest the argument he has something against a handheld device

UPDATED: Polygamous wife appeals conviction in B.C. child bride case

Emily Blackmore was found guilty of taking her underage daughter to U.S. to marry church leader

B.C. sets deadline for Indigenous salmon farm consent

All 120 operations will need agreements by 2022, province says

Family of 4 from Oregon believed to be missing in northern B.C.

RCMP, Search and Rescue crews searching area where vehicle was abandoned

Pickle Ball Depot picks up award

Vernon business earns Business Examiner’s Retailer of the Year

B.C. creates public registry to track real estate owners

The first registry of its kind in Canada aims to end the hidden property ownership

BC SPCA receives 400 reports of dogs in hot cars so far this year

Society is again urging people to leave their pets at home if they can’t keep them safe in the heat

Penticton to host first Okanagan Medicinal Cannabis Conference

The September event will address many aspects regarding the access and use of medicinal cannabis.

Most Read