In an ongoing crackdown on immigration fraud, the federal government is in the process of revoking the citizenship of up to 3,100 people it says obtained Canadian citizenship fraudulently.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has also flagged the cases of about 5,000 people who may have cheated to become permanent residents.
“Canadian citizenship is not for sale,” Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said in a statement Monday.
“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.”
CIC is working with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), the RCMP, and Canadian offices abroad to tackle the fraud.
The permanent residents being investigated are known to be implicated in residence fraud, and the majority of them live outside the country, the CIC said.
Typically, these permanent residents will use the services of an unscrupulous immigration representative to fraudulently establish evidence of residence in Canada while living abroad. This enables them to 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, the statement said.
Permanent residents must reside in Canada for three out of four years prior to applying for Canadian citizenship. To retain their permanent resident status, they must be physically present in Canada for two out of five years.
The CIC has flagged the files of another 2,500 individuals where there are also concerns, bringing the number of those tied to citizenship and residence fraud investigations to nearly 11,000.
To date, more than 600 former permanent residents linked to investigations have been removed or denied admittance to Canada, and about 500 citizenship applications from those who failed to meet the residence requirements have been denied.
As word spreads about the fraud crackdown, close to 1,800 applicants linked to the investigations have abandoned their bid for citizenship, the statement said.
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