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

UPDATE: Highway 1 closed near Revelstoke

A vehicle incident has closed Highway 1 in both directions

Mt Cartier Court gifted a wheelchair accessible bus

Mount Cartier Court has been gifted a brand new, top of the… Continue reading

The cost of Christmas light displays

BC Hydro talks incandescent versus LEDs

Snow warning: Bad for the highways, great for the ski hills

Get your ski gear ready as area mountains are ready for you to enjoy all the Interior winter has to offer this season.

Okanagan professor pitches passenger rail

UBC Okanagan engineering prof envisions tram train from Okanagan to Kamloops

VIDEO: Close encounter with a whale near Canada-U.S border

Ron Gillies had his camera ready when a whale appeared Dec. 7

France shooting: 2 dead, several wounded in Strasbourg

A world-famous Christmas market was put on lock down on Tuesday

Canadian warship witnesses possible violations of North Korea sanctions

Crew members on HMCS Calgary took photos and collected other information

Christine Sinclair named Canadian Women’s player of the year again

This is the 14th time Sinclair has been named player of the year

Women charged with stealing money from Okanagan hospice return to court

Susan Steen and Melanie Gray are charged with theft over $5,000 and fraud over $5,000

B.C. man wants trapping laws changed after dog killed

Louis Seguin’s 10-month-old Australian shepherd died in a body-gripping trap last month

Nearly 8,000 homeless in B.C., first province-wide count reveals

Twenty-four seperate counts in B.C. cities found there are thousands of homeless in all corners of province

UPDATE: B.C. judge grants $10M bail for Huawei executive wanted by U.S.

Meng Wanzhou was detained at the request of the U.S. during a layover at the Vancouver airport

Rikhi family donates $60,000 to Penticton Regional Hospital expansion

Donation made in memory of Raksha Rikhi, a nurse from Summerland

Most Read