Canadian border guards currently do not collect information about who is exiting the country. That will change and make it easier to stop fraudulent residency claims to obtain citizenship.

Canadian border guards currently do not collect information about who is exiting the country. That will change and make it easier to stop fraudulent residency claims to obtain citizenship.
Photo Credit: Canadian Press file photo

Former immigration officer not surprised at fraud

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Canada’s auditor general has noted several inadequacies in the immigration department’s detection and prevention of citizenship fraud. Michael Ferguson found the most common reasons for stripping someone of Canadian citizenship were identity fraud, not meeting residency requirements and not reporting criminal proceedings.

Citizenship officials failed to apply their own procedures to deal with suspicious documents, said Ferguson. He noted they did not have the information they needed to recognize that several people were using the same address to meet residency requirements and that there was “poor information sharing” between the immigration department, police and the Canada Border Services Agency.

Not surprised, says former immigration officer

“I wasn’t really surprised,” says Raj Sharma, an immigration lawyer and former immigration officer. “No system is perfect. A lot of this is built upon human input and there’s always going to be human error in any kind of system…

“No system is perfect. In terms of immigration fraud, this has always been a cat-and-mouse game.”

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Trying to control citizenship fraud has always been ‘a cat-and-mouse game,” says former immigration official Raj Sharma.
Trying to control citizenship fraud has always been ‘a cat-and-mouse game,” says former immigration official Raj Sharma.

Canada to begin exit controls at borders

The immigration department must update its database of so-called problem addresses, recommended the auditor general. Also, it should clarify immigration officer’s authority to seize problem documents and there should be better sharing of information between the department, police and border services.

Coming exit controls will help

Sharma is confident the minister is taking the recommendations seriously and will make changes. He adds that the issue of residency fraud will be mostly resolved when Canada implements a promise it made to the U.S. to start using exit controls at its borders.

When the changes are made there may be a few more people who lose their citizenship, says Sharma, but he believes that as long as Canadian citizenship is valued there will always be a certain amount of fraud.

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Categories: Immigration & Refugees, Society
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2 comments on “Former immigration officer not surprised at fraud
  1. Avatar Jon Wenger says:

    Well, I don’t think he will be the only person that is not surprised about it. If you talk to immigration lawyers like http://www.maxberger.ca/ or immigration officials you may find that many of them share similar opinions. You can’t just say that the system is not perfect and let it be like that. It will damage the culture and reputation of an otherwise great country named Canada. Government and each and every member in immigration department should take necessary action to make good, if not perfect immigration system for our country.

  2. Avatar Sterling says:

    I recall back in 2006 when Canada airlifted thousands of Canadians out of Lebanon they found that many had received citizenship in error and had never met the residency requirements.

    There are consultants who charge $10,000 to $20,000 per person to create evidence that a person is residing in Canada when they are really elsewhere in the world. This includes creating bank statements, T4s, pay stubs, employment references, leases, mortgage documents etc.