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

Find your groove with hand drums in Port Alberni

Nanaimo-based trio will be holding drumming workshop and concert

115 new wildfires burning across B.C. due to 19,000 lightning strikes

More fires expected to start today, says BC Wildfire Service officials

Alberni Senior Men’s Floor Hockey League reunites

Port Alberni has always been a hockey town, even when there was no ice

Heat wave hits Port Alberni

Open fires prohibited in Coastal Fire Region

Rollin Art Centre hosts open house for artists’ networking

Teas on the Terrace kick off July 5 with teen musician Morgan Schoen

VIDEO: B.C.’s ‘unicycle cowboy’ aspires to be rancher one day

Burklan Johnson has only ridden a horse once, but this unicyclist has big plans to become a cowboy.

Crown appeals B.C. polygamous leader’s acquittal in child bride case

James Oler had been charged with taking his underage daughter to the U.S. to marry her off

Keep your pets safe while driving

ICBC and SPCA join forces on pet safety awareness initiative

Reports of explosion in Okanagan turn out to be squirrel vs. power line

The noise was described as ‘similar to a shotgun blast’ that shook the Earth

A look at what Canadian teams might do in the 1st round of the NHL draft

Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver and Edmonton in top 10 of upcoming draft

Koko, the gorilla who knew sign language, dies at 46

Western lowland gorilla, 46, died in her sleep in California

California court hears tales of shackled, starved children

David and Louise Turpin have pleaded not guilty to torture, child abuse of their 12 children

Trudeau announces bioregional oceans protection agreement in Prince Rupert

Agreement announced in partnership with 14 central and north cost First Nations

FIFA World Cup weekly roundup

Host nation Russia remains unbeaten in Group A, tied with Uruguay

Most Read