An elderly Russian woman left her Canadian husband and subsequently collected nearly $25,000 in social assistance payments that have been charged to the 82 year pensioner who sponsored her immigration to Canada, said the Canadian man affected.
In an interview with the CBC, BC resident Heinz Munz said he had no idea that his Russian ex-wife, Polina Telyuk, was receiving social assistance until he received the $24,899.34 bill from the BC provincial government:
“When she applied for assistance, they should have told me. They never did.”
Under Canadian immigration law, a Canadian permanent resident or citizen can sponsor their foreign spouse for Canadian permanent residence, but is financially responsible for any financial assistance their spouse receives from the government for three years from the date they become a permanent resident.
Munz said in the interview that he began paying the bill for Telyuk’s social assistance payments because he feared his home could be seized by the government if he didn’t.
He said he did not suspect there was any thing amiss until his Russian wife, who he had met on the internet, left him, as she was “so nice” to him up to that point. Munz said that the day after Telyuk received her permanent resident papers, she left in a taxi with her daughter, laughing and chatting in Russian.
Munz complained to the RCMP and Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), but nothing came of it. Allegations of marriage fraud typically do not end in charges being laid, as it is usually difficult to prove the sponsored party broke any law by planning to marry their partner to immigrate to Canada and then leave them.
Experts for years have cited examples like Munz’ to make the case for toughening immigration sponsorship rules. Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said that new rules would soon be put in place requiring sponsored spouses to live with their Canadian spouses for two years to be eligible for permanent residency.
This is similar to a rule in place in the US, which gives a two year ‘conditional resident status’ to sponsored spouses, after which they can apply for permanent residency if they have met all of the eligibility conditions.