If you are having relationship difficulties with your new Canadian partner, don’t make false claims to get the partner deported because that constitutes “family violence,” states a new ruling by the Supreme Court of British Columbia.
The ruling by Justice Gordon Funt also denied the bid for spousal support by the claimant, a B.C. based investment advisor Benjamin He, who had falsely reported that his former partner, Vivian Guo, was involved in immigration fraud, in an effort to get her deported.
“The claimant’s filing of the baseless Immigration Marriage Fraud Report was designed to cause the respondent’s immigration status to be revoked and thereby destroy the economic component which forms part of one’s immigration status,” Justice Funt wrote.
“An immigrant applying for permanent residency status is vulnerable to threats, intimidation and unfounded accusations,” the ruling reads. “The claimant’s threats in relation to the respondent’s immigration status constitute ‘family violence.’”
Ninu Kang, Associate Executive Director of The Ending Violence Association of BC (EVA BC), said her organization agrees with the judge’s conclusion.
“We agree with the conclusion of the judge that anyone who falsely reports fraud by their spouse to Immigration, knowing that their actions will cause emotional and financial harm to their spouse, is acting maliciously,” she said.
“Such malicious conduct is family violence, pursuant to the Family Law Act,” added Kang, whose organization supports more than 300 anti-violence programs across B.C.
Immigration fraud and “family violence”
Veteran Vancouver immigration lawyer Catherine Sas said this is an issue that comes up frequently in the immigration context and is referred to as “the poisoned pen letter.”
“In our office we have seen numerous cases between jilted lovers, jealous spouses, angry siblings, and many other hostile relationships that result in letters being sent to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and/or the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), or the filing of spurious criminal allegations to the police, all with significant immigration consequences to the individual immigrant and their extended family,” she said.
“As the Court rightly recognized, such allegations can have life-altering consequences for wrongly accused immigrants. The next vital step in the course of preventing the actions of persons such as [Benjamin] He should be to provide for criminal prosecution against false immigration accusations,” said Sas.
According to the ruling issued last week, Guo arrived in Canada in January 2014 with her teenage son from a previous marriage, who has autism-related challenges. Guo was granted a visitor visa, while her son was admitted on a student visa.
In August, she purchased a home on Meadedale Drive in Burnaby, B.C., and met He online a few months later.
In November of 2014, the couple started living together “in a marriage-like relationship.”
Two years later, He applied to sponsor Guo for a work permit and subsequent permanent residency status in Canada.
However, the relationship fell apart and the couple separated in March 2018. Within a month of the separation, He filed an Immigration Marriage Fraud Report to the immigration authorities, accusing his former partner of beating him, threatening a particular witness, and claiming that she was “dating with some men for money” and violating her work permit.
Justice Funt said the assertions of fraud, violence, witness threatening, and working in the sex-trade were baseless.
The judge dismissed He’s claim for spousal support of $1,500 monthly for two years and partial proceeds from the monthly income derived from renting suites located in the Meadedale residence and appreciation of the property.
Instead, he awarded Guo the $12,000 she was seeking and allowed her to keep the entire amount that Meadedale house appreciated.
Funt said it would be “unfair” to support He’s false report to immigration authorities by giving him the spousal support he was seeking. “By filing the false immigration marriage fraud report, [He] has deliberately attempted to cause financial harm [to Guo] and emotional harm to her son,” the judge wrote.