Credits: CARMINE MARINELLI/QMI AGENCY
The Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) said in a release Friday the women were arrested following a four-year investigation. They allege the women "arranged for Canadian citizens to marry and sponsor Chinese foreign nationals by recruiting sponsors, arranging weddings and completing all applications and supporting documentation."
The agency said fees ranged from $30,000 to $35,000 per person.
Starting in 2008, Inland Enforcement and Criminal Investigations officers "determined that these marriages were not genuine and the couples never intended to live together," the CBSA press release quoted Greater Toronto Area regional director-general Goran Vragovic saying.
The women arrested Wednesday are: Wei Ren, also known as Christine Molson; Min Li, who also uses the name Michelle; Cheryl Patry, also known as Cheryl "Suni" Phillips; Nicole Marie Martin; Denise Gray, also known as Denise Lucy "Bee" Dwyer; Cassandra Isabelle Dwyer; and Patricia Andrade Monteiro.
They are each charged under federal immigration law with several counts of counselling or aiding and abetting persons to commit misrepresentation.
Federal officials enacted tougher marriage regulations last fall by requiring childless immigrant spouses to live two years with a sponsor. Those who fail to live together could lose their permanent resident status.
"There are countless cases of marriage fraud," Kenney told reporters in October.
The cohabitation requirement was designed to thwart individuals and organized gangs arranging marriages with Canadian citizens, whose new spouses leave or never meet their sponsors.