Family reunification is a key objective of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Despite this, cross-national couples continue to experience challenges during the spousal sponsorship process. The spousal sponsorship regime must be situated in the context of Canada’s history of racist immigration policies, and consider the nature of neo-racism, and the function of securitization. It is evident in the negative social construction of foreign spouses, and the conflation of cross-national couples with marriage fraud, that the government prioritizes fraud
detection over family reunification. Interviews with ten individuals of cross-national marriages revealed challenges related to finances, emotional well-being, power imbalances, and the stigmatization of marrying a foreign spouse. The process was made more difficult by the government due to inadequate information, communication, and transparency. While processes of racialization can be seen to inform practices and policies of the spousal sponsorship system, other factors such as bureaucracy and socioeconomic status also appeared to play a role.
Key words: family; spousal sponsorship; cross-national; racism; marriage fraud