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Canada and entry of gay couples

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As well as the genuine applicants there have been reports of abuses of the immigration system by people claiming to be homosexual partners. A new trend in India is for men to claim to be homosexual partners to gain immigration to Canada. They apply on the basis that they cannot stay in India as homosexuality is illegal.

The Indian media reported in June that many youths are using the ban on homosexuality to get an immigration visa to certain western countries where homosexuality is legal.

Sources associated with the Canadian embassy in India said the diplomatic mission was seeing an increase in the number of "gay applications." After Canada, Australia and New Zealand are the next hot spots for such immigration visa seekers, the news website reported.

Around 15 percent of those making Canadian immigration visa applications had cited the issue - that India does not accept them as legally married - as the reason for seeking immigration. The greatest number of applicants came from Punjab, followed by West Bengal and Delhi.

"Unless we are absolutely sure that the credentials of the applicants are accurate, we do not grant visas. Apart from carrying out psychological tests on such applicants, we try to collect information from local authorities. We also counter-check with gay rights groups," an official associated with the Canadian embassy was quoted as saying.

It is not only Indian gays that are blazing a trail to Canada. Since Canada's immigration law was changed in 2002 to recognize same-sex partners for immigration purposes, an ever-growing number of American gay and lesbian couples have uprooted and migrated -- especially couples in which one partner is a U.S. citizen and one is not.

Canadian immigration officials do not track the number of gay couples applying for permanent residency but officials admit that they are fielding significantly more inquiries from gay couples in the last couple of years.