Skip to main content

Interculturality and Legal Innovation: Establishing Marital Status During Sponsorship Appeals at The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada

Joao Velloso, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa

Published April 20, 2018 by Technologies of Justice.

On January 27, 2018, Joao Velloso presented Interculturality and Legal Innovation: Establishing Marital Status During Sponsorship Appeals at the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. The talk was part of the Immigration and Refugee Law Issues Under the Microscope session at the Technologies of Justice Conference, which took place at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology.



Velloso asked, “What does sponsorship and sponsorship appeal mean?” and explained the legal priorities within the immigration framework. He presented three main case studies related to Triple Talaq, sponsorship appeals, and what it means for the man who married his wife twice. He explained the idea of being able to import a partner if you can support them, covering topics such as the meaning of marriage, the decisions of visa officers versus tribunals, and the revisions of these decisions.
In his first case study, he explained Triple Talaq, an Islamic law of automatic divorce, and the official divorce proceedings in these cases. He pointed out that there are often no records of the proceedings, making it difficult to discover the nuances of these cases.
In his second case study, he touched on 'snowbirds:' those who meet abroad and marry, sometimes while still previously married.
In the third case study, he discussed those married abroad under Islamic law, but not under national law, who can be forced to remarry to validate their marriage. He also talked about the problems this type of situation can cause both in the books, and for the people trying to legally express their marriage when the paperwork hasn't gone through.
He explained the cultural differences in the definition of marriage, and how often cases are handled through discretionary decision-making based on cultural knowledge and legal knowledge of a foreign country. He described the need to learn about customary and Indigenous practices abroad. He also talked about how changing the way we deal with these situations, and making sure people who are dealing with these situations are studied in the cultural and legal nuances in the location in which the cases occur, can greatly help increase innovation in the legal areas of immigration and refugee law.