MEDIA ADVISORY
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

New Immigration Sponsorship Conditions Would Jeopardize Women’s Safety

Anti Violence Advocates Address New Rules of Engagement for Immigrants

March 30, 2011, Vancouver, BC – In a move that will hurt women in violent relationships, Canada’s federal government has quietly proposed new engagement rules for marriages involving Immigrants.  Under the proposal, a spouse or partner from abroad who has been in a relationship with the Canadian sponsor for two years or less would be granted only “conditional permanent residence” or risk having their permanent status revoked.   In turn, this could lead to their removal from Canada. 

At Battered Women’s Support Services, 48% of women who access our services are recent Immigrants and the newly proposed sponsorship obligations and conditions would further jeopardize their safety. We anticipate this having devastating implications for women who have been sponsored by their abusive partner. The Canadian government will, by policy, be forcing women to stay in abusive relationships to experience emotional and physical damage or risk being in violation of the conditional permanent residence status with potential removal from Canada which could further complicate access to safety and security.

“Placing women on conditional permanent resident status exacerbates their already vulnerable situation.  Not only are they at risk for abuse due to their status as women in a culture in which violence against women is relatively common, but also to their position as conditional permanent residents.” Said Darla Tomeldan, BWSS Legal Advocate “Threats of deportation, fear for her own safety, fears of bureaucratic entanglement, language barriers, poverty, and lack of privacy due to extended family shared dwellings, community pressure, social consequences, no access to legal and social services can impede a battered woman from seeking help.”

The Canadian Press reported that “the federal notice says that given concerns about violent relationships, a process for allowing bona fide spouses and partners in such situations to come forward without facing enforcement action”.  Though this measure will seemingly have the most profound impact on women dealing with violence; this provision appears to be an afterthought.  

“Assessing violence and abuse in relationships can not be taken lightly, said Rose Elena Arteaga, BWSS Manager, Direct Services and Programs, “there must  to be clarity around evidentiary requirements, definition of the types of abuse, training for immigration officers on violence against women, legal services and social services for abused women on conditional permanent resident status.”

Without firm figures defining the extent of marriage fraud, this measure seems to be manufacturing a crisis for which women who are dealing with violence will ultimately pay the price. 

Media

Darla Tomeldan, Legal Advocate 604-808-0507

Rosa Elena Arteaga, Manager, Direct Services & Programs 778-996-5993

BWSS Website: www.bwss.org

The Canadian Press Article: http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/canada/breakingnews/new-rules-of-engagement-proposed-for-marriages-involving-immigrants-118807564.html

The Canadian Government is receiving feedback on this proposal until Monday, April 25th 2011.

Send your feedback to Justine Akman, Director,
Social Policy and Programs, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, 365
Laurier Avenue W, 8th Floor, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 1L1, 613-941-9022
(telephone), 613-941-9014 (fax), [email protected] (email)