Your gateway to Canada


Immigration Newsweek

By Attorney Henry Moyal


Q. As you are aware, there is no divorce available in the Philippines. There is only annulment procedures which can be very time consuming, costly and unpredictable. I have a problem regarding my marital status. I was married to my high school sweetheart in 1995 in the Philippines. We separated in 1997 and he went to Saudi Arabia to work. I have not heard from him since that time. Shortly after, I married another man in 1999 and registered my marriage with the NSO. I am now separated from my second husband too. I am now in Canada and I am ready to file my application for permanent residence. I do not know what to do? Do I file a divorce from spouse number one or two? Do I tell immigration or should I keep on telling immigration that I am single?

A.Your last comment has really confused me. Are you saying that you have been informing Canada Immigration that you are single? I see several misrepresentations here that can result in a refusal of the application. The best advice I can provide in the limited space is to tell immigration the truth. If you do not, firstly, you are again misrepresenting yourself. And second, Canada Immigration will likely do a search with the NSO and find out anyway. If you have not filed your permanent residence application then there may be some hope for you. (If you already have, seek professional advice). However, there is a risk that you will be refused for committing bigamy. Even though the second marriage is void, bigamy is a criminal offence and can render you inadmissible to Canada even if the act was committed outside of Canada.

Q. I am living in San Francisco, California for the last 6 years. I originally arrived with a valid H1B visa but it was not renewed after the first three years. I have been out of status for three years now. Last year I married a woman in the USA. We want to immigrate to Canada but we have a few concerns. Firstly, do we need to return to the Philippines to file our application or can we file it while we are still living in USA? We do not mind returning to the Philippines as long as we have already filed the application. Secondly, my wife entered the USA a few years ago using a false document and assumed name. Will that cause a problem?

A. I will answer the easier question first. You can file the application while living in the USA. Depending on where you file the case and depending on whether you have an interview, you may need to travel to the visa office. If you do not mind returning to the Philippines, then you can travel with your spouse back home and then wait for visa processing. However, you can file the case now even if outside the Philippines. The bigger problem you face in my opinion is the fact that your spouse used a fake passport to gain entry. That is a criminal offence. If immigration department is aware of the details then the whole application may be refused. You have not stated if your marriage certificate was under her real name or assumed name. If it was under her real name, then immigration will wonder how she ever existed in the USA if she never obtained a visa to the country. You will need to strategize very carefully before submitting the file.

Q. I am married to a Canadian woman who has left Canada over a decade ago. We are both in New York and our children are all grown up. We often talk about immigrating to Canada to a more peaceful and quieter place. Do we file the application inside of Canada or here in New York? Which is faster?

A. If you enter Canada and have legal status in Canada then you have the option of filing the application inside the country. If you have legal status for at least one year in USA, you can file the application in USA for visa processing. The USA application is by far faster and recommended in most cases, if you qualify. Applications inside of Canada are taking a long time primarily due to the backlog of cases at the Case Processing Centre in Alberta.

Attorney Henry Moyal is a certified and licensed immigration lawyer in Toronto, Ontario. The above article is general advice only and is not intended to act as a legal document. Send questions to Attorney Moyal by fax, phone or email