‘IELTS Weddings’ Face Setback In Punjab as Canada Imposes Restrictions on Spousal Work Permits
Recent regulatory changes in Canada specify that spouses of undergraduate students are ineligible for open work permits, restricting this avenue for many.
Of late ‘IELTS weddings’ have become a new route to Canada in Punjab. A recent study conducted by Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) spanning from 1990 to 2022 sheds light on the migration trend in rural Punjab, revealing that 9.51% of migrants from the region moved abroad on a spouse visa, with over 50% being males.
The study indicates a shift in this trend due to a new phenomenon known as ‘contract marriage,’ where men initiate marriages with women who have obtained high IELTS bands for study visas, subsequently sponsoring their husbands on spousal open work visas.
The gender distribution shows that males (53.16%) outnumbered females (46.89%), indicating a significant change. Families often seek IELTS-passed girls through matrimonial advertisements, with grooms’ families covering wedding expenses, sending the girl to Canada, and bearing financial burdens exceeding 25 lakhs.
However, recent regulatory changes in Canada specify that spouses of undergraduate students are ineligible for open work permits, restricting this avenue for many. The impact extends to immigration agencies, with survival becoming challenging for consultants and institutes heavily reliant on spouse visa applications.
Nitin Chawla from Kapri Education and Immigration Services Inc. in Ludhiana expressed concerns, stating, “Many immigration consultants’ offices had a substantial portion, around 80%, of files related to spouse visas. Now, with the end of open work permits for spouses of undergraduate students, survival will be challenging for numerous immigration and IELTS institutes.”
The study also sheds light on the practice of using immigration consultants as informal marriage bureaus, facilitating alliances between boys and IELTS-passed girls. However, challenges emerge as couples divorce after obtaining permanent residency, leading to police complaints and even suicides in some cases.
The recent restrictions in Canada pose a setback for Punjab’s ‘IELTS weddings,’ impacting not only the migration trend but also the business landscape for immigration consultants and institutes in the region.
Parvasi Weekly Inc.