Almost 11,000 people are being investigated in Canada over lying in a major crackdown against citizenship fraud, the government has revealed.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has begun the process to revoke the citizenship and permanent residence status of 3,100 who obtained it fraudulently, 5,000 people with permanent residence status have been flagged for additional scrutiny and 2,500 individuals will be watched closely should they make future applications.
‘We are applying the full strength of Canadian law to those who have obtained citizenship fraudulently,’ said Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney. ‘Canadian citizenship is not for sale. We are taking action to strip citizenship and permanent residence status from people who don’t play by the rules and who lie or cheat to become a Canadian citizen,’ he added.
CIC is working closely with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), and Canadian offices abroad to tackle this fraud.
‘This announcement is the end result of the hard work done by the RCMP and CBSA, and they should be congratulated for their dedicated effort in bringing these charges forward,” said Canada’s Public Safety Minister Vic Toews. ‘These efforts reinforce our government’s commitment to protecting the integrity of our immigration system,’ he added.
The Department has also been working on cases of those who are not yet citizens. Nearly 5,000 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 believed to be outside the country.
Permanent residents must reside in Canada for three years out of four years prior to applying for Canadian citizenship. To retain their status as permanent residents, they must be physically present in Canada for two out of five years with few exceptions.
In typical cases, permanent residents will use the services of an unscrupulous immigration representative to fraudulently establish evidence of residence in Canada while living abroad most, if not all, of the time. This is perpetrated so that individuals can fraudulently maintain their permanent residence status and later apply for citizenship. RCMP and CBSA criminal investigations have found that a family of five may pay upwards of $25,000 over four or more years to create the illusion of Canadian residence.
To date, CIC and its partners have removed or denied admittance to over 600 former permanent residents linked to the investigations, and have denied about 500 citizenship applications where the applicants do not meet the residence requirements. Almost 1,800 applicants linked to the investigations have abandoned their citizenship applications as word about these investigations spreads.
‘We will not stand by and allow people to lie and cheat their way into becoming citizens. I encourage anyone who has information regarding citizenship fraud to call our tip line to report it. There is no time limit for investigating this type of fraud,’ said Kenney.
‘Over the past six years, Canada has had the highest sustained level of immigration in Canadian history. The Government of Canada is committed to creating an immigration system that brings the world’s best and brightest to Canada while protecting our immigration system against those who would abuse our generosity,’ he added.