Thousands to Be Stripped of Canadian Citizenship in Historic Fraud Sweep

National Post, December 9, 2011

The federal government is set to crack down on 4,700 more people believed to have obtained citizenship or permanent resident status illegally in what’s being dubbed the biggest citizenship fraud sweep in Canadian history.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is expected to make the announcement that “Canadian citizenship is not for sale” on Friday.

He will unveil the details in Montreal where Nizar Zakka–an immigration consultant suspected of fraud–was arrested in 2009. Zakka is suspected of providing would-be Lebanese immigrants with false evidence–indicating that they were living in Quebec when they were not–to support their cases for permanent residency.

He’s also accused of filing or contributing to the filing of 861 false tax returns for at least 380 clients between 2004 and 2007. The returns allegedly were then used to claim refunds for child care and property taxes as well as the provincial sales-tax credit.

The announcement comes six months after the government moved to strip 1,800 people of their Canadian citizenship or permanent resident status for the same reasons. Up until this year, Canada had revoked just 67 citizenships since the Citizenship Act came into force in 1947.

The bulk of the citizenship fraud cases are said to be linked to Zakka as well as Halifax immigration consultant Hassan Al-Awaid, who was charged in March with more than 50 citizenship fraud-related offences.

The cases are also tied to a third consultant from Mississauga, Ont., west of Toronto, who remains under investigation, according to a government source who noted the others were brought to light thanks to the new citizenship fraud tip line.

Unveiled in September, the tip line already has fielded 5,366 calls.

Letters are currently being sent to the 6,500 people from 100 countries indicating that Canada is revoking their citizenship or permanent resident status due to fraud.

This comes following a lengthy investigation by the RCMP and the Department of Citizenship and Immigration.

Alleged fraudsters, the majority of whom are not currently living in Canada, have up to 60 days to appeal the decision in Federal Court before cabinet moves to void their passports and strip them of all rights and privileges.

According to Citizenship and Immigration, to maintain permanent resident status a person must reside in Canada for at least two years within a five-year period. Permanent residents seeking citizenship must show proof that they’ve lived in Canada for at least three of the last four years before applying.

At the time of Al-Awaid’s arrest, Kenney said he was suspected of helping people “create the appearance they were residing in Canada in order to keep their permanent resident status, and ultimately attempt to acquire citizenship.”

He said investigators had linked Al-Awaid to 1,100 applicants and their dependents, 76 of whom had obtained Canadian citizenship.

He noted that many people were prevented from “fraudulently obtaining citizenship” as a result of the investigation.

The government has been taking action against citizenship fraud for some time. The Cracking Down on Crooked Consultants Act, which imposes tough new penalties for immigration consultants convicted of fraud, including fines and/or prison, is now law in Canada.

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  • highduke

    It’s probably being initiated by PM Harper who has curbed immigration and moved to preserve imperial nomenklature in the military. This is purely a top-down phenomenon without grass-roots support but without opposition either. Harper’s past as Reform leader before the PC merger indicates at least some nationalist sentiment. The Prairie provinces have welcomed immigration since the merger bc this new party that emerged abandoned the cause. Did Harper compromise to change the system from within?

  • fred

    Letters are currently being sent to the 6,500 people from 100 countries indicating that Canada is revoking their citizenship or permanent resident status due to fraud.

    How nice of the government to give them a warning. Now, they’ll have plenty of time to run and hide. Most likely they’ll slip into the U.S.

  • Jeddermann.

    These persons should not only be stripped of their citizenship illegally obtained but thrown in prison for a long time. Made to work on chain gangs. A little bit of the winter in Canada outside will do them good. But they don’t have chain gangs in Canada do they?

  • Anonymous

    Don’t buy it folks. My country has the worst most out of control horrible immigration system and policies in the whole world. Don’t believe me? Just come to Toronto or Vancouver and see for yourself.

  • Anonymous

    Oh come on now this Canadian citizenship is not for sale business is just too outlandish. Canada hands out citizenship to Haitians and similar types like someone would candy at Halloween. This whole story reeks of propaganda to nudge naïve citizens into trusting there is no problem with immigration and everything is under control when in fact the truth is something far different. As an example look at Vancouver once a city that had hardly any Chinese and today reminds the visitor more of Hong Kong than Hong Kong. Canada is being flooded with the strangers from afar and this without asking Canada.

  • Anonymous

    #4 – I’ve been to Toronto, looks like Mumbai.

  • chuck

    5 — Anonymous at 4:44 AM on December 10:

    You are so right with this comment…Canada throws the doors open for the rabble of Haiti and Jamaica. Who wants to bet that most of these “citizens” will challenge in the court system and it will go on for years and years.

  • Anonymous

    I’m optimistic that this is a small step in the right direction. Apparently a lot of these “Canadian citizens” don’t live in Canada or pay taxes. (I believe a lot of them are in Lebanon.) I suppose they want the Canadian passport so they can travel easily, and if they get sick they can come “home” and get free health care. A few years ago when war broke out in Lebanon we found out that there were thousands of “Canadians” living there and they demanded the Canadian government send a ship to rescue them (which it did) and then complained that the service wasn’t good or fast enough. Throw the bums out, I say, and the sooner the better.

    I’m afraid that this is just the tip of the iceberg. I think our entire immigration system is riddled with corruption, since it is mostly run by cultural enrichers from very corrupt places.

    Trudeau broke Canada years ago, sadly.

  • Anonymous

    #7 wrote:

    Who wants to bet that most of these “citizens” will challenge in the court system and it will go on for years and years.

    ————————————————

    Most certainly. And we, the tax payers, will pay for all the legal costs, plus the welfare and free medical care for the bogus citizens. I’ve read that half the courts of law in Canada are tied up with immigration cases.

  • Anonymous

    American citizens ship is for sale. If you have $500,000 to ‘invest’ in America you can become an American citizen.

  • WyattWhite

    Here’s a modest proposal: draft illegal aliens and give them a 10 year stint in the Canadian Foreign Legion. They can do good in Rwanda, Africa.

  • Anonymous

    “I’ve been to Toronto, looks like Mumbai.”

    There are days when I don’t think I would feel much more alienated or out of place if I WAS living in Mumbai. I never wanted to feel this way, so I never went to Mumbai. I stayed in my home in Toronto, where my family has lived for generations. But Mumbai CAME TO ME. (With a little help from my treasonous Liberal government).