Canada cracks down on fraudulent citizenships
September 14, 2012
Canada cracks down on fraudulent citizenships

Fri, Sept 14, 2012

The Canadian government has started the process of revoking the citizenship of 3,100 people suspected of lying to become Canadians, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) has reported.{{more}}

Speaking at a news conference in Ottawa on Monday, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said the federal government is “applying the full strength of Canadian law” to crack down on individuals suspected of obtaining citizenship fraudulently or falsifying information required for permanent residency.

“Canadian citizenship is not for sale,” Kenney told reporters. “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.”

This crackdown on fraudulent citizenships is part of an investigation into some 11,000 people who may be lying to apply for citizenship or maintain permanent resident status.

Kenney’s department is working closely with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and Canadian offices abroad to track down suspicious cases.

Of the 11,000 people being investigated, nearly 5,000 people with permanent resident status have been flagged for additional scrutiny, should they attempt to enter Canada or obtain citizenship, a departmental release said Monday. The majority of these individuals suspected of residence fraud are believed to be outside the country.

An additional 2,500 files have been flagged by Kenney’s department for other concerns and will be “watched closely,” should the individuals make additional applications, the department’s release said.

Almost 1,800 applicants have abandoned their citizenship applications since the investigations began.

Kenney first announced a little more than a year ago that the government planned to take away the citizenship of 1,800 people it thought had used fraudulent means to become Canadians. Most of them lived outside Canada, he said at the time.

Kenney also encouraged provinces to enforce a waiting period for new arrivals, such as asylum claimants, before they can receive government benefits like welfare.

“We do know from all of the intelligence we have gathered … that many of, if not most of, the asylum claimants coming from the European Union are attracted in part because they immediately qualify for welfare benefits when they get to Canada,” Kenney told reporters. Kenney said 95 per cent of EU asylum claimants abandon or withdraw their own claims or have their claims rejected by the Immigration and Refugee Board.

“We have asked Ontario to review the eligibility rules for welfare,” the minister said. “We don’t think it’s helpful to create a ‘pull factor’ for false claims.”

To date, the Harper government has removed or denied admittance to over 600 former permanent residents and denied about 500 citizenship applications.

Up until last year, fewer than 70 citizenships had been revoked since the Citizenship Act was passed in 1947.