The government of Canada is investigating 6,500 people from more than 100 countries for fraudulently attempting to gain citizenship or maintain permanent resident status.
‘Canadian citizenship is not for sale. Canadians are generous people, but have no tolerance or patience for people who don’t play by the rules and who lie or cheat to become a Canadian citizen,’ said Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney.
‘The government will apply the full strength of Canadian law to those who have obtained citizenship fraudulently,’ he added.
In July Kenney announced that Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) was beginning the process to revoke the citizenship of up to 1,800 citizens who obtained it fraudulently; that number has now risen to more than 2,100.
The department has also been working on cases of those who are not yet citizens. Nearly 4,400 people with permanent resident status who are known to be implicated in residence fraud have been flagged for additional scrutiny should they attempt to enter Canada or obtain citizenship. The majority of these individuals are outside the country.
In typical cases, permanent residents will use the services of an unscrupulous immigration consultant to establish evidence of residence in Canada while living abroad most, if not all, of the time.
This fraud is perpetrated so that individuals can maintain their permanent residence status and later apply for citizenship. A family of five may pay upwards of $25,000 over four or more years to create the illusion of residence in Canada.
‘My department is working closely with the Canada Border Services Agency, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Canadian offices abroad to prevent people who are suspected of non-compliance with the permanent residence requirement from being admitted to Canada without proving they meet the requirements and take enforcement action when necessary,’ explained Kenney.
To date, of the 4,400 permanent residents who have been flagged, nearly 1,400 people have withdrawn or abandoned their citizenship application because of new scrutiny.
Permanent residents must acquire three years of residence out of four years to apply for Canadian citizenship. To retain their status as permanent residents, they must be physically present in Canada for two years out of five.
‘I encourage anyone who has information regarding citizenship fraud to call our tip line to report it,’ urged Kenney.
Cases involving false representation, fraud or knowingly concealing material circumstances in the citizenship process, for example, pretending to be present in Canada to meet the residence requirements for obtaining citizenship, should be reported.
As should tips about suspicious cross border activity, marriages of convenience, misrepresentation in any temporary or permanent immigration application, or the whereabouts of any person wanted on an immigration warrant.
The government of Canada is also taking action to crack down on the actions of crooked consultants during the immigration process. Bill C-35, originally introduced as the Cracking Down on Crooked Consultants Act, came into force on June 30, 2011. The Act imposes penalties on unauthorized representatives who provide, or offer to provide, advice or representation for a fee at any stage of an immigration application or proceeding.