Canadian immigration to investigate citizenship fraud

Canada is carrying out the biggest citizenship-fraud crackdown in its history, Canadian Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney announced last week. The Canadian government is now investigating 6,500 people from more than 100 countries for their allegedly fraudulent attempts to become Canadian citizens or maintain permanent resident status.

In order to become a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident is required to have lived in Canada for three years in a four-year period. In order to retain your status as a permanent resident, you must be physically present in Canada for two years out of a five-year period.

"This is by far — by many orders of magnitude — the largest enforcement action ever taken in the history of Canadian citizenship," said Kenney. "Canadian citizenship is not for sale."

According to Kenney, Canada is seeking to revoke citizenship for more than 2,100 people; Canadian immigration officials are monitoring 4,400 permanent residents believed to be involved in residence fraud in case they try to obtain Canadian citizenship.

Kenney said nearly 1,400 of these individuals, most of whom are outside the country, have since withdrawn or abandoned their citizenship applications because of the heightened scrutiny. Since the Citizenship Act came into force in 1947 more than sixty years ago, Canada has revoked just 67 citizenships.

"Our intention is not to make it too difficult for law-abiding people to become citizens," Kenney added. "We have a very fair and relatively easy process, but the whole point here is, for those people who legally obtain it, we must protect its value."

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