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Canada aims to strip 3,100 of citizenship

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Jason Kenney, the Canadian minister for Citizenship, Multiculturalism and Immigration, announced yesterday, 10th September 2012, that his government has begun the process of revoking citizenship granted to 3,100 people who made fraudulent applications for Canadian citizenship. He said that the government is currently investigating 11,000 people suspected of attempting to abuse the Canadian immigration system. Most of the 3,100 are from the Gulf States.

Mr Kenney said 'We are applying the full strength of the law to those who have obtained citizenship fraudulently'. Several Canadian agencies have been carrying out investigations since last year including The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA). In order to obtain citizenship, individuals who have been awarded permanent residency must reside in Canada for three out of four years before applying. To maintain permanent resident status, people must be present in Canada for at least two out of five years and they must not go abroad for any lengthy periods.

However, the Canadian government came to suspect that some people with permanent residency status were paying unscrupulous immigration agents substantial sums of money to create falsified records to support their claims to be residing in Canada while they actually continue to reside abroad. RCMP and CBSA believe that an agent will charge CAN$25,000 to create documentation for a family of five over four years.

The Canadian government says it is investigating a further 5,000 permanent residents who are suspected of manipulating the system in a similar way. They also have concerns about another 2,500 permanent residents. These will be investigated if they make applications in future. So far, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), Mr Kenney's department, says 600 former permanent residents have either been removed from, or denied readmission to, the country. CIC has also refused about 500 citizenship applications where the applicants have not fulfilled the residence requirements honestly. A further 1,800 people have abandoned citizenship applications. CIC said in a press release that this was because word of the investigation had spread.

Mr Kenney said 'We will not allow people to lie and cheat their way into becoming citizens.' He encouraged anyone who knew of 'citizenship fraud' to report it to the immigration authorities.

However, Mr Kenney also said that 223,040 people applied to become Canadian citizens in 2011 so the 3,100 fraudulent applications made up 'a very small portion' of the total. Mr Kenney said that the Canadian government was considering legislation to ensure that immigration agents who help residents apply for citizenship must become members of the regulatory body, Immigration Consultants of Canada.

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