Since 2008, the Brampton woman has made three failed attempts to bring her husband here, but officials said the birth of a child does not mean the marriage is genuine.
Would people go so far as to cheat Canada’s immigration system by having a baby to cover up a marriage of convenience?
Three different adjudicators presiding over a Brampton woman’s long-drawn-out spousal sponsorship application apparently think so, even though the couple has a daughter together.
Since 2008, Saranjit Kaur Sandhu has made three failed attempts to bring her spouse, Kulwinder Singh Sangha, to Canada from India — twice the Federal Court of Canada overturned the negative decision and sent the case back to the immigration appeal tribunal for reconsideration.
“The birth of a child does not definitely prove that a marriage is genuine. Each case will turn on its own facts, although there is much to be said for the presumption that ‘the parties to a fraudulent marriage are unlikely to risk the lifetime responsibilities associated with raising a child,’” wrote Justice Yves de Montigny in rejecting the second tribunal decision in 2014.
“(T)here is no evidence that having a child was a ploy to enhance the applicant’s husband’s chances of obtaining permanent residence in Canada.”
Sandhu’s appeal has recently been rejected by the tribunal for the third time and she is back before the Federal Court for another intervention.
“The focus of the past decisions has been the conclusion that the child of the marriage was conceived to bolster the relationship for immigration purposes,” wrote tribunal adjudicator Elena Rose in the latest rejection of the couple’s sponsorship appeal.
“The panel does not believe that the mere continuation of a purported relationship during a sponsorship and an appeal period, nor a shared child, is necessarily evidence inconsistent with a primary goal of immigration on entering the marriage.”
Sandhu, 35, was sponsored to Canada by her first husband in 2005 but the couple separated after six months “because he became abusive towards me and I could not take the sufferings any longer,” according to her affidavit filed with the court.
After the divorce, Sandhu remained in Canada. In 2008, she wed Sangha in an arranged marriage, set up by her family in India. However, her sponsorship application was rejected in the same year. Her battle with the immigration appeal tribunal ensued.
In the meantime, the couple had a daughter, Arshleen, who was born in Canada in 2010 before Sandhu took the then 4-month-old baby to India to be looked after by grandparents.
In the latest rejection, adjudicator Rose wrote she didn’t understand why Sandhu remained in Canada after her marriage broke down, given she had no ties to Canada. She also pointed out that the applicant had failed to specify grounds for the divorce as cruelty.
“Given the alleged difficult circumstances that the appellant had encountered with her first husband, her quick return and immediate embracing of a second marriage, without even considering any other candidates seemed curious,” Rose wrote.
She also questioned why the husband, a never-married 40-year-old would marry a divorcee, 35, whose divorce, by her own admission, put her into a “‘low’ place in society,” the adjudicator wrote.
Although the couple provided supporting evidence detailing their relationship — calls, photographs and Sandhu’s yearly visits to see Sangha in India — the panel concluded that “while corroborating evidence is often helpful in establishing genuineness, it can also be fabricated to bolster an appeal.”
The adjudicator also took issue with Sandhu sending her daughter back to India temporarily while working three jobs — as a cleaner, at a bakery and a plastics factory — in Canada to support her husband and girl in India.
She also suggested Sangha memorized details about his wife’s life, including her address and postal code, “to show he is knowledgeable about her.”
“There is no evidence of a genuine sharing of responsibility for the welfare of the family,” said Rose in dismissing the couple’s appeal. “The evidence throughout was clear that the applicant’s marriage exists for him if he comes to Canada, reunification with his wife and daughter are very secondary.”
In an interview, Sandhu said she insisted on remaining in Canada so she could raise her family and give her child a better future. Being in Canada by herself, she said she had no choice but to send her newborn daughter to her husband’s family back home. However, she did bring the girl back to Canada in 2013.
“I had to leave my daughter with my husband so I could work and earn money to pay for immigration litigation, my own living expenses and travel to and from India,” said Sandhu.
“Canada is a country of hope and good life if one works hard. This is my home. Since we came back, Arshleen often asks me why her father is not with us and why he does not take her to school.”
In the 2014 Federal Court decision, Justice de Montigny said that the fact Sandhu has spent a few months every year with her husband indicates their established relationship.
The tribunal’s decision “must rest on a reasonable assessment of the evidence and cannot be the result of irrelevant factors, peripheral considerations or, even worse, prejudice and insensitivity to cultural difference,” said the judge.
With all that her client has gone through, Jaswant Mangat, the couple’s lawyer, hopes that this time around the Federal Court will take the rare move to order officials to approve Sandhu’s sponsorship of her husband instead of deferring to the tribunal for redetermination, again. A court date is pending.
“No one would persist like this couple has just to bring someone over unless it is a bona fide relationship,” said Mangat. “They have suffered enough.”