Getting a divorce for Canadian immigration purposes

divorce for immigration

Matilde, a Portuguese citizen, intends to immigrate to Canada. Matilde has a spouse. However, she realizes if she gets a divorce, she may qualify for immigration. Therefore, Matilde and her spouse decide to get a divorce. They intend to remarry after Matilde’s immigration. Of course, they hope she sponsors her spouse later after immigration. Unfortunately, a consultant informs them this is not an option. Matilde wonders why getting a divorce for Canadian immigration purposes could be problematic.

Why getting a divorce for immigration purposes could be on the table?

Many immigration options to Canada are point-based. Some require minimum points for qualification, and some use a scoring system for competing with other candidates. Here are some examples:

Depending on the option, you and your spouse or common-law partner could contribute to these points. Ironically, having a spouse or common-law partner does not necessarily increase your score. For example, their lack of education, work experience, or knowledge of English or French languages could reduce your points. Of course, not every immigration option is like this. However, divorcing your spouse or breaking your common-law relationship could benefit immigration if your partner affects an immigration option negatively.

A known scheme for immigration

Getting a divorce or ending a common-law relationship for immigration is a known scheme. The couple ends their relationship. One of them successfully immigrates and then sponsors the other one. If you think your brilliant mind has proposed this scheme, I’m afraid you are not the first one. Regardless, the immigration authorities are aware of this scheme and have even coded this matter in the Immigration Regulations (Regs).

What do the Regs say about getting a divorce for immigration purposes?

Section 4.1 of Regs addresses divorce-then-marriage-scheme for immigration. Regs call this type of activity a New Relationship.

4.1 For the purposes of these Regulations, a foreign national shall not be considered a spouse, a common-law partner or a conjugal partner of a person if the foreign national has begun a new conjugal relationship with that person after a previous marriage, common-law partnership or conjugal partnership with that person was dissolved primarily so that the foreign national, another foreign national or the sponsor could acquire any status or privilege under the Act.

New relationship under the Immigration Regulations.

In layperson terms, you may divorce your spouse or end your common-law partnership for immigration to Canada. However, you may not later renew the relationship and sponsor them to Canada. Of course, if the divorce-marriage occurs naturally and not for immigration, you may sponsor them. However, proving the genuineness of this matter is not easy.

Misrepresentation is another risk.

The immigration officer could argue you hid a material fact when you claimed you ended your relationship. In other words, they may claim you never finished the relationship but pretend it ended. If they go in that direction, you may face misrepresentation allegations. Misrepresentation could result in one or more of the following adverse outcomes:

What if the marriage is fake?

Sometimes the new marriage is fake. In other words, the couple only marries for gaining status in Canada. In such situations, they add another level of complexity to the matter. I have another article that addresses fake marriages for immigration to Canada.

Let us help!

Instead of focusing on schemes such as getting a divorce for immigration, please book a consultation with me. I’ll review your case and offer you ethical and lawful options. Of course, if you are already facing an immigration or visa problem, you may fill out the following form. Alternatively, book a mentorship session with me or fill out our assessment form. The mentorship sessions are available to licensed practitioners only.

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    Al ParsaiAl Parsai, LLM, MA, RCIC-IRB
    Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
    Adjunct Professor – Queen’s University – Faculty of Law
    Ashton College Instructor – Immigration Consulting
    Author – 88 Tips on Immigration to Canada

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    This article provides information of a general nature only. Considering the fluid nature of the immigration world, it may no longer be current. Of course, the item does not give legal advice. Therefore, do not rely on it as legal advice or immigration advice. Consequently, no one could hold us accountable for the content of these articles. Of course, if you have specific legal questions, you must consult a lawyer. Alternatively, if you are looking for immigration advice, book an appointment.

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    Al Parsai

    Al Parsai is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (class L3 RCIC-IRB – Unrestricted Practice) in Toronto, Canada. He is an adjunct professor at Queen's University Law School and Ashton College. Al, who holds a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from York University, is a member of CICC and CAPIC organizations. Al, the CEO of Parsai Immigration Services, has represented thousands of applicants from more than 50 countries to the immigration authorities since January 2011.

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