Some African immigrants are marrying their own sister - even their mother - to get into Canada
Montreal immigration lawyer Awatif Lakhdar says he is aware of two cases in which bogus couples managed to thwart the law before appearing in his office.
"The first had married his sister, the second his mother. They had managed to slip through the cracks in the system, but eventually they found themselves before the courts," he said.
People are ready to go to this extreme because it is much quicker to get a spouse into Canada than a sibling or parent.
In addition to presenting forged documents to immigration officials, many also produce phony wedding photos depicting the happy couple kissing.
According Immigration Canada, 70 per cent to 80 per cent of those claiming marital status are accepted on production of documentation only.
Lawyer Patric-Claude Caron, said he knows of at least three cases involving wedded brothers and sisters in recent years which had been foiled.
"They asked me to help them. It didn't take long to figure out they were brothers and sisters," he said.
The practice is not unheard-of in several ethnic communities of Montreal, including those of Somalis, Congolese and Guineans, and others from countries where it is relatively easy to falsify documents.
One case was cited of a man of Guinean origin arriving at Montreal in 2001. He married his own sister in 2004 after wedding another woman in a nearby country.
His sister arrived in Montreal early this year and he has since left the country to be with his real wife.
Another man from Guinea, however, was tripped up in his attempt to bring his sister to Canada. Sources say Immigration officials raised questions when he attempted to bring in more than the two children registered in his file and ordered DNA tests.
It's very difficult to know exactly how widespread the practice is.
Our reporters met at least 30 recent immigrants who claim to know at least one person who gained entry to Canada this way. All requested anonymity, fearing personal retribution.
An Immigration Canada official said the federal department is aware of the practice of using fraudulent marriages between brothers and sisters to gain entry, but is not planning any special attention to address it.