Immigration Rules Tightened For Gay Couples

January 7th, 2011

A woman stands over a gay couple, saying "You must consummate your marriage in front of a CIC agent as proof. To help you along, I'll now hum Frankie Goes to Hollywood's 'Relax.'"

Gay Canadians who were married to foreign partners in embassies will only be able to sponsor their spouse for Canadian citizenship if the host country recognizes same-sex marriage, according to recent changes in immigration policy.

Immigration officials said there was a high demand for same-sex sponsorships in 2010, which required a tightening of the policy to close a “possible loophole.”

This change is a little odd. For one, marriage isn’t a requirement for a Canadian to sponsor their partner for citizenship. According to Canada’s immigration guide, common-law partners, even gay ones, are fully recognized. All that’s required is to be in a codependent relationship for a year, and whether or not a spouse’s country of residence has equal marriage rights doesn’t change that.

Moreover, what “loophole” exists here that doesn’t for straight couples? Marriages of convenience are undoubtedly a problem, but this policy change just thwarts gay short-term marriages of convenience while leaving the door to straight ones wide open—and surely the latter is the bigger problem here. I mean, sure, we gays are fond of mail order catalogues, but the return policies are far too limited to find fiancés that way.

Update, January 13th: According to some sharp investigation by Xtra, the CIC’s embassy marriage rules are not recent at all, having been in place for ages. There’s no explanation as to why the Toronto SUN reported the change as recent, nor as to why they attributed the change as a means to close a “loophole.” Nevertheless, I still think the specific mention of same-sex marriage legality in the CIC’s rules is bizarre. Inconsistent, too, considering that straight marriages are legal everywhere. After all, if the benefit of sponsoring a married spouse over a common-law partner is to take advantage of a shorter codependency period, then straight couples can use (or abuse) this advantage more readily than gay ones.