In Canada, there is a physical presence condition for being granted Canadian citizenship, and for maintaining a permanent resident status. To obtain Canadian citizenship, a permanent resident must have been physically present in Canada for three years during a four years period preceding the citizenship application. A permanent resident, in order to maintain his/her status, must be physically present in Canada for a total of two years in any five year period.
The federal government is carrying a major investigation targeting 6,500 people from 100 different countries, suspected to have obtained their Canadian citizenship fraudulently, or to have maintained their permanent resident status fraudulently.
According to Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism: “This is by far — by many orders of magnitude — the largest enforcement action ever taken in the history of Canadian citizenship”.
2,100 individuals will very likely have their citizenship revoked under the current crackdown, whereas Canada has revoked only 67 citizenships in total since 1947.
Jason Kenney said that the point is not to make it more difficult for people to legally obtain their citizenship, but to protect the value of citizenship altogether.
Permanent residents are also under scrutiny. 4,400 of them are suspected to have committed residence fraud. They are red-flagged for any attempts to enter Canada or obtain citizenship. Most of these individuals live outside Canada.
Typically, permanent residents use the service of a crooked immigration consultant to help them fraudulently prove their physical presence in Canada, while living outside Canada. They need to cheat the system and pretend they are living in Canada to be able to meet the physical presence requirement to apply later for citizenship. This service can cost a family of five up to $25,000 over four years or more, just to pretend they are physically present in Canada.
The Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism is working in partnership with the RCMP, the Canada Border Services Agency and Canadian consulates or embassies abroad. This partnership is in place to prevent individuals, who are suspected of cheating the physical presence in Canada requirements, to be admitted in Canada without demonstrating proof of their physical presence.
Of the 4,400 permanent residents who are under scrutiny, 1,400 of them already gave up their citizenship application because of the crackdown.
The Government of Canada is also cracking down on crooked immigration consultants since the introduction of a new Bill, the “Cracking Down on Crooked Consultants Act” in June 2011.
The Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism is actively encouraging anyone with citizenship fraud information to report it to their tip line (1-888-242-2100) or their email (Citizenshipfirstname.lastname@example.org).
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