We Should Show Understanding Towards Indian Students Coming to Canada Through “Fake” Marriages
Opinions / September 11, 2017
Canadians shouldn’t judge international students trying to get an education here, even through arranged marriages
Alyssa Laube, Coordinating Editor
Newspaper ads in India designed to set up “fake” marriages between Indian and Canadian students have recently been discovered as a method of bypassing the hassle that comes with paying international student tuition and maintaining the paperwork needed to stay in the country.
For the students that are emigrating, this deal promises much easier access to an education, job, and citizenship in one of the world’s most desirable locations for attending post-secondary school. Those waiting for their new spouse in Canada get a partner for the cost of paying their travel expenses and housing an extra person in their home.
Although deals like this seem simple at a distance, they can end up being extremely complicated for both sides. Arranged marriages can easily go wrong when, for instance, the couple finds that they are completely incompatible or downright miserable together once they start their marriage in Canada. What’s more, if an aspiring Canadian student from India has troubles getting into school or into the country, the entire agreement can fall apart. What happens if one party wants a divorce, and the other wants to stay together? What if the student from India is forced out of their agreed-upon living or financial situation, and is left on the streets?
In an advertisement found in an Indian newspaper called Jagbani, a 24 year-old Canadian man named Barbar Sikh requested a “BSc or IELTS pass girl” as a wife. The advertisement stated that the “boy’s side will pay all expenses to go to Canada.” Other ads follow a similar format—almost always with the Canadian family offering to pay travel and citizenship expenses in exchange for the Indian family’s son or daughter, as long as they can speak English and have an education.
Students from India make up a huge portion of KPU’s international student body, and the likelihood of some of them being involved in these fake marriages for citizenship is quite high. This could potentially be an issue for the financial side of KPU, as the university makes a substantial profit off of international student tuition. It also very likely irritates members of the provincial and federal government, but technically, there is nothing illegal about arranged marriages.
There is a clear distinction between forced and arranged marriages, and while the federal government has been talking about making forced marriage illegal here for years, action is yet to be seen. This makes life easier for those happy in their arranged spousal situation, but probably much harder for everyone else being held hostage in a relationship they aren’t enjoying.
It’s reasonable for international students in Canada to want to avoid paying fee after fee to settle and go to school here. As Canadians, our primary concern should be the well-being of the people involved in these marriages, and the government should have legislation in place to prevent toxic forced marriages from taking place on Canadian soil.
When it comes to setting up a fake marriage to get a proper education, however, there’s little reason to get upset with the students smart enough to find a way to better themselves without paying through the nose to do it. Keep in mind that they’re sacrificing a great deal by coming to Canada to live with a stranger as well. The quality of a life is immeasurably more valuable than a few dollars in international tuition for post-secondary institutions.