Parliament Video: Jenny in the House: Couple denied application and accused of "staging" their marriage photos

On October 29, 2018, Jenny rose to ask this question:

Jenny Kwan (NDP) Vancouver East, BC

"Mr. Speaker, in May I rose in the House to draw the minister's attention to the spousal sponsorship case of Mr. Baig and the inappropriate language used in a procedural fairness letter to “tease out a response”. The language was offensive and relied on ethnic stereotyping to question the legitimacy of a marriage.

I was glad to hear over the summer that the application had been approved and that refresher training was provided to the officers processing permanent resident applications in London. The minister acknowledged that “the lack of a clear explanation of the intent of the procedural fairness letter deserves to be acknowledged and addressed. The concern of the officer could have been expressed in a less abrupt manner by providing more context and I would like to assure you that steps have been taken to address this issue.”

I had hoped that we would no longer require debate on this subject. Unfortunately, it appears that similar practices continue within IRCC.

Jason Abrahamson, a Canadian citizen, married his wife Suhkpreet Kaur, who goes by the name Sooke, in India in 2016. After living together for some time in India, they applied for a visitor visa for Sooke to come to Canada. That application was rejected.

As members of this place know all too well, visitor visa rejections contain little to no information about why a negative decision was reached and are immensely frustrating for applicants as a result.

In February 2017, Jason had to return to Canada to go back to his job, leaving his new wife behind. In May 2017, they applied for Sooke to obtain permanent resident status through the spousal sponsorship program.

In the meantime, through visits to India, this new family was expecting their first child. Their healthy baby boy was born on October 21, 2017. In December 2017, just months after meeting his newborn son, Jason had to leave his family to come back to Canada to return to work. The application was in process for over 17 months before it seemed to start moving.

The couple responded to all lRCC requests as quickly as they could, including interviews that were required because IRCC officials believed that the wedding pictures were “staged”. A request for a special marriage certificate, with a 30-day deadline to respond, was made, all because Jason was not Sikh. That was despite having already submitted their marriage certificate signed by the Minister of External Affairs of India. IRCC staff suggested to Jason staff that this was because he was a “white boy”.

The delays caused medicals to expire and, at great travel expense and other costs, they had to be redone. A second visitor visa for Sooke was denied. The family spent over $10,000 in legal fees trying to deal with IRCC requests.

Thankfully, I found out just days ago that this application had finally been approved. However, once again we are dealing with inappropriate, intrusive and rude lines of questioning and accusations.

This is not the approach necessary to determining legitimacy of a relationship, and in the summer, the minister agreed with me on that. Why is this kind of approach continuing?"

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