Immigration officers told to pay close attention to Chinese/non-Chinese marriages

Interesting release of the red flags or criteria used to assess the possibility of “marriages of convenience.”

While many of the criteria are relatively neutral, CIC is essentially using racial profiling as a key flag:

Chinese nationals who marry non-Chinese Canadians may be among those likely to be flagged by Citizenship and Immigration Canada as being involved in bogus marriages, documents released under Access to Information reveal.

The documents, dated April 2007, form part of a training manual for immigration officers who assess permanent residence applications for foreign spouses or partners who are already in Canada. Access to information records suggest the criteria were still in place as recently as October 2013. No one from Citizenship and Immigration Canada was able to comment Friday on whether the criteria remains in effect.

Canadians who apply to sponsor a spouse or common-law partner must submit several documents, including a marriage certificate, a questionnaire, proof of divorce if either partner was previously married and evidence the applicant lives with the sponsor. Couples may also submit wedding invitations or photos.


  • Chinese nationals, often university students, marrying non-Chinese;
  • Photos that don’t include parents or family members, but rather small groups of six to 10 friends;
  • An “uneducated” sponsor, with a low-paying job or on welfare;
  • In wedding photos, the couple doesn’t kiss on the lips;
  • Couples who don’t honeymoon, even for a weekend, “usually because of university and/or no money”
  • There are usually no “diamond” rings;
  • A small number of professionally taken wedding photos;
  • Photos of the couple wearing the same clothes in various locations;
  • Photos of activities together are often taken in the Niagara Falls area, Niagara-on-the-Lake and Toronto.


  • Previous relationships of the sponsor and the applicant and the length of time between a divorce and a new relationship
  • Whether Chinese surnames are unusual or common ones such as Wang, Huang, Li or Chen;
  • How much the sponsored spouse has to gain from permanent residence and whether they have taken previous steps to obtain it — a failed refugee claim, for example;
  • The length of time the couple has known one another, and whether they met, cohabited and married within six months
  • Whether there is an age gap of 10 years or more between the partners;
  • Whether there are significant differences in the education levels or ethnic backgrounds of the partners.

Vancouver immigration lawyer Steven Meurrens said he was surprised by some of the instructions. Meurrens obtained the document from Citizenship and Immigration Canada, which had previously released it under Access to Information.

“Why Chinese people are singled out I have no idea, and then that they’re training officers to be suspicious of people of lower income and lower education when they get married, I thought that was pretty offensive.”

Immigration officers told to pay close attention to Chinese/non-Chinese marriages.

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

One Response to Immigration officers told to pay close attention to Chinese/non-Chinese marriages

  1. Pingback: Immigration guide for detecting marriage fraud called ‘racist and offensive’ | Multicultural Meanderings

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