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Immigration Law

Immigration Appeal Division Upholds Virtual Relationships

June 06, 2022 by Clarissa Lester

Long-distance relationships are becoming increasingly popular through dating websites and apps. Arguably, COVID-19 has only increased their commonality with people relying on technology to connect. With more relationships developing online, their genuineness is now being questioned in sponsorship applications. Visa officers must now contend with the idea that these types of relationships can still result in genuine marriages.

In a recent decision by the Immigration Appeal Division (IAD) the representative had to conclude whether a relationship, which was founded on a dating website and maintained almost entirely virtually, still resulted in a genuine marriage. The BC Man met his future wife in person on more than one occasion and they communicated daily through online messaging apps and video chat.

After being married, The BC Man sought to sponsor his foreign wife and her young daughter to Canada following their marriage in the Dominican Republic. After waiting two years for an interview, a visa officer denied their application. They found that the marriage was not genuine, citing their age gap, the limited time they had spent together, how quickly the relationship had developed, and that their ability to communicate was somewhat limited. The IAD overturned the visa officer’s decision, stating:

the rapid development of relationships through websites raises issues for visa offices but it has now become quite commonplace. Joining such a group suggests a strong desire to find a partner in circumstances where it is challenging to meet someone through daily life. While such quick attractions and connections may be dubious, it is only reasonable that doubts about the genuineness of a relationship developed online should be resolved through the passage of time and the maintenance and deepening of feelings (para 7).

Marvin Geekie at FH&P Lawyers LLP represented the BC Man and was successful in the application to have the visa officer’s decision overturned. The decision also highlights the importance of being prepared and properly counselled in the preparation for any interaction with the IRCC and its officers. If you, or someone you know, is dealing with a sponsorship issue, please contact us at FH&P Lawyers LLP for a consult.