US launches campaign to strip immigration cheaters of citizenship, once a rare process

No issue with cracking down on fraud and misrepresentation, unlike some of the other Trump administration policies, although legitimate concern over how it may be done:

The US government agency that oversees immigration applications is launching an office that will focus on identifying Americans who are suspected of cheating to get their citizenship and seek to strip them of it.

US Citizenship and Immigration Services Director L. Francis Cissna said his agency is hiring several dozen lawyers and immigration officers to review cases of immigrants who were ordered deported and are suspected of using fake identities to later get green cards and citizenship through naturalisation.

Cissna said the cases would be referred to the Department of Justice, whose attorneys could then seek to remove the immigrants’ citizenship in civil court proceedings. In some cases, government attorneys could bring criminal charges related to fraud.

Until now, the agency has pursued cases as they arose but not through a coordinated effort, Cissna said. He said he hopes the agency’s new office in Los Angeles will be running by next year but added that investigating and referring cases for prosecution will likely take longer.

“We finally have a process in place to get to the bottom of all these bad cases and start denaturalising people who should not have been naturalised in the first place,” Cissna said. “What we’re looking at, when you boil it all down, is potentially a few thousand cases.”

He declined to say how much the effort would cost but said it would be covered by the agency’s existing budget, which is funded by immigration application fees.

The push comes as the Trump administration has been cracking down on illegal immigration and taking steps to reduce legal immigration to the US.

Denaturalisation – the process of removing citizenship – is very rare.

The US government began looking at potentially fraudulent naturalisation cases a decade ago when a border officer detected about 200 people had used different identities to get green cards and citizenship after they were previously issued deportation orders.

In September 2016, an internal watchdog reported that 315,000 old fingerprint records for immigrants who had been deported or had criminal convictions had not been uploaded to a Department of Homeland Security database that is used to check immigrants’ identities. The same report found more than 800 immigrants had been ordered deported under one identity but became US citizens under another.

Since then, the government has been uploading these older fingerprint records dating back to the 1990s and investigators have been evaluating cases for denaturalisation.

Earlier this year, a judge revoked the citizenship of an Indian-born New Jersey man named Baljinder Singh after federal authorities accused him of using an alias to avoid deportation.

Authorities said Singh used a different name when he arrived in the United States in 1991. He was ordered deported the next year and a month later applied for asylum using the name Baljinder Singh before marrying an American, getting a green card and naturalising.

Authorities said Singh did not mention his earlier deportation order when he applied for citizenship.

For many years, most US efforts to strip immigrants of their citizenship focused largely on suspected war criminals who lied on their immigration paperwork, most notably former Nazis.

Toward the end of the Obama administration, officials began reviewing cases stemming from the fingerprints probe but prioritised those of naturalised citizens who had obtained security clearances, for example, to work at the Transportation Security Administration, said Muzaffar Chishti, director of the Migration Policy Institute’s office at New York University law school.

The Trump administration has made these investigations a bigger priority, he said. He said he expects cases will focus on deliberate fraud but some naturalised Americans may feel uneasy with the change.

“It is clearly true that we have entered a new chapter when a much larger number of people could feel vulnerable that their naturalisation could be reopened,” Chishti said.

Since 1990, the Department of Justice has filed 305 civil denaturalisation cases, according to statistics obtained by an immigration attorney in Kansas who has defended immigrants in these cases.

The attorney, Matthew Hoppock, agrees that deportees who lied to get citizenship should face consequences but worries other immigrants who might have made mistakes on their paperwork could get targeted and might not have the money to fight back in court.

Cissna said there are valid reasons why immigrants might be listed under multiple names, noting many Latin American immigrants have more than one surname. He said the US government is not interested in that kind of minor discrepancy but wants to target people who deliberately changed their identities to dupe officials into granting immigration benefits.

“The people who are going to be targeted by this – they know full well who they are because they were ordered removed under a different identity and they intentionally lied about it when they applied for citizenship later on,” Cissna said. “It may be some time before we get to their case, but we’ll get to them.”

Source: US launches campaign to strip immigration cheaters of citizenship, once a rare process

ICYMI: Federal Court asked to spare former clients of immigration consultant fraudster | Toronto Star

Well, it was misrepresentation, whether committed directly by the person or through an intermediary:

Former clients of an unlicensed consultant convicted in one of Canada’s biggest immigration scams have asked the court to spare them from being removed from Canada for “misrepresentation.”

In a proposed class action application filed with the Federal Court last week, Chao Yuan Lin and Xiang Zhou — two of Xun “Sunny” Wang’s former clients — said evidence at the man’s criminal trial indicated “Wang or his staff committed immigration fraud and not their clients.”

Wang, owner of New Can Consulting in British Columbia, was found guilty of immigration fraud in 2015 for filing fraudulent immigration applications for hundreds of clients, and was sentenced to seven years in prison. Last year, three of his former staff were also convicted of immigration fraud and were sentenced to 18 months in jail.

Wang’s services included helping clients apply for citizenship and renew what’s known as a permanent resident, or PR, card, a document required of non-citizen immigrants to enter Canada by commercial vehicle.

Wang falsified documents to make his clients appear to have met the residency requirement when they were physically out of the country in order to renew their PR card.

“Despite the mountain of evidence of Mr. Wang’s fraudulent activities committed against his clients and Canada Immigration, the respondent (public safety) minister decided to treat the clients of Mr. Wang as no less culpable and has been seeking to remove them from Canada by alleging that they committed misrepresentation,” said the court application represented by the lead claimants, Lin and Zhou.

The Immigration Department declined to comment on the class action application or reveal the number of Wang’s former clients whose immigration status is under review, as the matter is before the court.

In the court application, Lin claimed he was not aware of any suspicious or fraudulent activities of Wang, nor was he informed of any by the Canada Border Services Agency when he retained Wang to renew his PR card in 2013, a year after officials executed a warrant to search Wang’s office in Richmond, B.C.

 

According to the court submission, Lin was refused a travel document to return to Canada by Canadian officials in Beijing in 2014. He filed a successful appeal and obtained a new PR card in June 2016. Last month, however, the border agency told him he was inadmissible to Canada because he misrepresented himself on his PR card renewal, and he was referred to an admissibility hearing.

According to the submission, Zhou successfully renewed his PR card in 2010 through Wang’s company but was intercepted by border agents at the Vancouver International Airport a year later because he had failed to meet the minimum two-year residency requirement within a five-year period.

Zhou was issued a removal order but successfully appealed the decision, got his PR card renewed and sponsored his wife and child into Canada in 2013. Then last month, he too was informed by the border agency that he’s inadmissible to Canada for misrepresentation.

The court application asks that the permanent residents not have to go through the admissibility hearings for misrepresentation.

Both Lin and Zhou declined to comment.

Their lawyer, Lawrence Wong, said border officials identified about 2,000 of Wang’s clients during his criminal trial and hundreds of them had hired the unlicensed consultant for PR card renewal.

The court submission argues that misrepresentation in the PR card renewal does not imply his clients acquired their permanent resident status improperly and has nothing to do with the retention of the permanent status.

A PR card serves as proof of permanent resident status, but the status may remain without a valid card, the court application says.

“If the applicants made misrepresentation to renew their PR cards, then they should have their cards revoked or renewal applications denied. They should not lose their legally obtained PR status and be given a five-year ban from entering Canada,” the application says.

Another complaint the applicants have against the government, according to the application, was that their PR cards were successfully renewed by the Immigration Department but the public safety minister, who oversees the border enforcement agency, delayed “in shutting down the unlicensed and illegal activities of Mr. Wang” and “took it upon themselves to revisit the applicants’ cases.”

via Federal Court asked to spare former clients of immigration consultant fraudster | Toronto Star

Canada can’t strip your citizenship without a trial, court rules – VICE News

Good ruling. Senate review of C-6 included restoration of procedural protections in case of revocation for fraud or misrepresentation (along with two other amendments) and still no sign from the government whether they intend to accept the one or more of the amendments:

A landmark ruling from the Federal Court means that Ottawa will no longer be able to strip Canadians of their

A landmark ruling from the Federal Court means that Ottawa will no longer be able to strip Canadians of their citizenship without a hearing.

In ruling on the case of a group of dual citizens who had their citizenship nullified because the Canadian government believed they obtained it through fraudulent means, the court found the government’s revocation powers unconstitutional.

Under the Citizenship Act, thanks to changes brought in by the previous government, the minister of immigration could revoke the Canadian citizenship of any dual resident who, they believe, obtained it through fraud or misrepresentation, or who has been convicted of a terrorist offence.

It was at the government’s discretion whether or not there would be a trial on the matter. Thanks to those streamlined rules, revocation could take place after merely sending a letter to the person affected.

Today, the court ruled that such a process ran afoul of the Bill of Rights, a rarely-used piece of the constitution and a precursor to the more widely-known Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Those facing citizenship revocation “should be afforded an oral hearing before a court,” Justice Jocelyne Gagné wrote, adding that they deserve to be afforded “an opportunity to have their special circumstances considered when such circumstances exist.”

Today’s ruling means that all current citizenship revocation cases will be put on hold.

In some ways, these changes were inevitable.

Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government pushed forward legislation in early 2016 to make similar changes to the Citizenship Act, removing the government’s ability to strip the citizenship of terrorists, and to afford the right to a trial to all those facing revocation. That legislation has been making its way through Parliament for more than a year, and was most recently amended by the Senate earlier this month — meaning it now heads back to the House of Commons for another vote.

Despite that, the Canadian government has nevertheless pushed forward to strip the citizenship of an array of people across the country. The current Liberal government, who campaigned on repealing Harper’s changes, has revoked more citizenships in a year than the previous government did in seven years.

Previously, under both the Trudeau and Harper governments, the government has moved to take away citizenship from Canadians who obtained their citizenship as children.

Joel Sandaluk, a Toronto immigration lawyer, represents a client who got notice that Ottawa was moving to take away his citizenship as recently as last month.

“It’s always been kind of a mystery as to why the government was still pursuing revocation,” Sandaluk says, noting that the government was pursuing legislation to make that very change, and it knew that this case was to be decided imminently.

“It’s either very canny politics or it just kind of feels a little bit manipulative,” he says.

It’s quite possible that the Liberals will need to go back to their own legislation, which is currently making its way through the Senate, to make sure it complies with today’s ruling, Sandaluk says. That means Ottawa likely won’t bother appealing the decision.

Source: Canada can’t strip your citizenship without a trial, court rules – VICE News

Supreme Court to rule in immigrant’s revoked US citizenship – The Washington Post

Will be interesting to watch in the context of a Trump presidency. Similar issue as with respect to Minister Monsef’s country of  birth controversy: was it material to her family being accepted as refugees and later as citizens?:

The Supreme Court says it will hear an appeal from an immigrant who was stripped of U.S. citizenship for lying about the circumstances that brought her to this country.

The justices said Friday they will review lower court decisions that upheld a criminal conviction against Divna Maslenjak of Ohio. The conviction automatically revoked her citizenship.

The issue for the justices is how important her false statements were to her application to become an American citizen. Lower courts have disagreed about the standard.

Maslenjak is an ethnic Serb from Bosnia. She and her family were granted refugee status in 1999 and settled near Akron in 2000. She became a citizen in 2007.

She initially told immigration officials her husband had not served in the Bosnian Serb military.

Clients of convicted immigration consultant facing deportation for lying

Important conviction for immigration and citizenship fraud, and good to see that both the consultant being punished and individuals pursued with revocation.

This is important both in its own right as well as helping to maintain broader confidence in the Canadian immigration and citizenship program, and is one of better and needed initiatives of the previous Conservative government:

One by one, many of the 1,200 former clients of an unlicensed Richmond, B.C., immigration consultant are getting the bad news — they’re no longer welcome in Canada because they lied.

CBC News has learned 320 immigrants, who each paid thousands of dollars to New Can Consulting and owner Xun (Sunny) Wang, are now facing deportation to China.

One year ago, Wang, 47, was convicted of one of the biggest immigration scams in Canadian history — making $10 million by filing fraudulent immigration applications for his clients.

In one of his ploys, Wang falsely used his own home in Richmond as an address for 114 of his clients who didn’t live in Canada.

Xun 'Sunny' Wang Richmond house

Convicted immigration fraudster Xun (Sunny) Wang used his own home in Richmond as a fake address for at least 114 of his clients. (Mike Zimmer/CBC )

His appeal of his seven-year prison term and $900,000 fine was rejected last month.

Three of his former employees will be sentenced in January and three more are awaiting trial. At least three others have warrants out for their arrest.

Now the Canada Border Services Agency says of Wang’s 320 ex-clients facing review of their immigration status, approximately 200 could be stripped of their citizenship and 120 could lose their permanent residency status.

Hundreds of other former New Can clients could also be in trouble.

500 more cases being investigated

In an email to CBC News, the border agency said it is continuing efforts to “uncover fraud on approximately 500 cases remaining to be investigated”.

That means out of the 1,200 clients of New Can, over 800 could ultimately be sent back to China.

Guo Liang Lin is one of them.

At his recent hearing before the Immigration Refugee Board (IRB), the clean-cut man in his late 40s was ruled “inadmissible to Canada due to misrepresentation.”

Eric Leung and Guo Liang Lin

Immigration consultant Eric Leung, left, and client Guo Liang Lin. Lin admits he signed documents that said he lived in Canada three times longer than he actually had to obtain permanent residency. Lin was working with a different immigration company at the time, which he blames for falsifying records. (Manjula Dufresne/CBC )

Lin was issued an exclusion order, banning him from re-entry into Canada for five years unless he gets permission from immigration officials to come back sooner — something an immigration and refugee spokesperson says rarely happens.

Lin immediately launched an appeal on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, a move that will allow him to remain in Canada for nine to 12 months until his case is reviewed by the Immigration Appeal Division.

Passport ‘falsified’

To obtain details of Lin’s case, CBC News attended his IRB hearing on Nov. 23.

The board adjudicator heard that Lin, who received permanent resident status in 2010, had spent just seven months in Canada over five years — not the minimum two years required by law.

This allowed him to live and work in China, while keeping his wife, son and daughter in B.C.

But his passport was altered by New Can Consulting, his IRB hearing heard, with entry and exit stamps falsified to make it appear Lin had spent 980 days, or just over 2½ years, in Canada.

Permanent residents are entitled to most social benefits in Canada, including health care.

McCallum doesn’t want to let fraudsters ‘off the hook’ through moratorium on citizenship revocation

There is a distinction between fraud cases investigated by the RCMP and those investigated by IRCC. The Minister seems to be referring to only the latter. In general, if I recall correctly, the RCMP cases deal more with massive fraud (e.g., consultants submitted multiple fraudulent applications) whereas IRCC deal more with individual cases.

IRCC data shows the vast majority of fraud cases are a result of IRCC internal investigations, not RCMP, as the chart below indicates:

citizenship-data-slides-2015-026

The federal government is trying to revoke the citizenship of fraudsters, and that’s why it won’t agree to a moratorium on citizenship revocation, says Immigration Minister John McCallum.

“We have large numbers of a criminal element unveiled by the RCMP, and reported on by the auditor general. It was actually under the previous government that [investigations began that] we are now dealing with…and those people have really, truly abused our citizenship. So it would not be right to have a moratorium, and let them off the hook,” he said in a phone interview Thursday.

…. He [immigration lawyer Lorne Waldman] is part of a group bringing a constitutional challenge against a law brought in by the previous Conservative government, known as it was as C-24, that means a person who’s received notice of citizenship revocation doesn’t have a right to an appeal or court hearing.

 Mr. Waldman and another lawyer said they’re representing clients in similar circumstances to Ms. Monsef where their citizenship is in jeopardy because another family member is accused of misrepresentation.

Mr. McCallum (Markham-Thornhill, Ont.) acknowledged that the lack of an appeals mechanism needs to be fixed, but wouldn’t go as far as to instruct his department to stop revoking citizenships until one is set up, preferring instead to allow it to be developed through a change to a citizenship bill, C-6, currently at second reading in the Senate.

The bill aims to reverse parts of the Conservative legislation, C-24, that allowed the government to pull citizenship from dual nationals convicted of terrorism, expanded the age range of immigrants subject to language testing, and more.

Mr. McCallum told the Senate during an appearance Oct. 4 for Question Period that he would welcome a Senate amendment to C-6 to put in place an appeals process for new Canadians who had their citizenship revoked for providing false information on their citizenship application.

However, he wavered on whether he would pause revocations while C-6 went through Parliament when asked by Senate Liberal Art Eggleton, saying “no,” then saying he would “consider” it. The federal Justice Department confirmed the government would not impose such a moratorium in a letter to the Federal Court last week, the Canadian Press reported.

The government has increased the rate of citizenship revocations for fraud since the Liberals took power. That includes 104 revocations in the first eight months of this year, compared with 132 in all of last year and just 30 in the previous two years combined, the CBC reported.

‘Never entitled’ to citizenship

Mr. McCallum said the government is not trying to revoke the citizenship of the alleged fraudsters before an amended C-6 could bring in an appeals mechanism.

“Those two are not linked,” he said.

“As a result of that RCMP investigation, they are pursuing cases, which we fully support. It takes a while to pursue those cases, and some of them are just coming to the revocation point now. It wasn’t an effort for any particular reason, except that they were ready. And we are definitely supporting efforts to go after the criminal element and remove citizenship where it was clearly done for fraudulent or criminal reasons,” he said.

In a written statement provided to The Hill Times, Mr. McCallum’s office said “the recent increase in citizenship revocations is the result of large-scale fraud investigations led by our RCMP and [Canada Border Services Agency] partners that began under the former Conservative government.

“These investigations led to criminal convictions of several immigration consultants, and notices of intent to revoke citizenship were sent to their clients who had provided fraudulent documents to suggest they were living in Canada when they were living abroad, in order to gain citizenship. Others changed their identity in order to hide criminal backgrounds.

Source: McCallum doesn’t want to let fraudsters ‘off the hook’ through moratorium on citizenship revocation – The Hill Times – The Hill Times

Trudeau government revoking citizenship at much higher rate than Conservatives

The lack of procedural protections for citizenship revocation in cases of fraud or misrepresentation, flagged as a concern in both hearings on the Harper government’s C-24 and the Trudeau government’s C-6, continues to draw attention, given both the increased number of revocations and the Monsef case (although I would argue misrepresentation of her birthplace by her mother is not material in the way that misrepresenting residency).

And while the Trudeau government continued use of this power is questionable, the higher rate reflects in part the increased number of investigations following implementation of this provision in C-24 on 28 May 2015.

IRCC data shows 24 investigations initiated before this provision came into force, and 324 in the seven months after. The number of cases in the pipeline increased, and thus normal that more revocations would result, as the government applies the law:

The Trudeau government used powers granted by the Harper government’s controversial citizenship law to make 184 revocation decisions without legal hearings between November 2015 and the end of August. About 90 per cent of the decisions resulted in a negative finding and the loss of a person’s citizenship.

The numbers show that the Trudeau government has used the law far more aggressively than the Harper government itself.

But in a Federal Court filing late Friday, the government said it would not grant a moratorium on revocation cases, and added that claims by some that the system was revoking large numbers of citizenship are speculative.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau made the sanctity of citizenship an issue in last year’s federal election.

“A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian,” Trudeau said in a leaders’ debate three weeks before storming to victory.

He used it to dress down Stephen Harper for passing Bill C-24, a law that aimed to strip dual citizens of their Canadian passports if they were convicted of crimes of terrorism, treason or espionage against Canada, or took up arms against Canada.

Immigrant communities rallied to the Liberal Party, concerned that Canadians born overseas would be reduced by C-24 to an insecure second-class status.

Once elected, one of the Liberals’ first acts was to repeal the parts of C-24 that applied to those convicted of terrorism-related crimes, ensuring that they can keep their Canadian passports.

But the Trudeau government left intact other parts of the law that allow the government to strip citizenship from other holders of Canadian passports for misrepresentation.

The 184 revocation decisions of the first 10 months of the Trudeau government nearly match the total number of decisions over a 27-year period between 1988 and the last month of the Harper government in October 2015.

Revocations increase as Trudeau takes office

Although the powers being used come from a law passed by Stephen Harper’s Conservatives, the law has been used much more aggressively under Trudeau.

In the first full month of the law’s operation, June 2015, only three revocation decisions were made. None were made in July or August, two in September and two more in October.

The Trudeau cabinet was sworn in on Nov. 4, 2015. That month saw 21 revocation decisions. The following month there were 59. The year 2016 averaged 13 decisions a month up to Aug. 31, the latest data CBC News has been able to obtain.

The monthly average under the Harper government from 2013 to 2015 was only 2.4 cases a month, some under the auspices of C-24 and some under rules that existed previously.

Citizenship revocation decisions by year (in persons)

2013 2014 2015 2016 (8 months)
January 13
February 4 7 25
March 17 7
April 5 14
May 5 16 18
June 4 1 3 7
July 10
August 10
September 4 2
October 1 2
November 4 21
December 7 59
Total 15 15 132 104

Source: Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

Liberals accused of hypocrisy

In recent days, following revelations that the birthplace of one of its own cabinet ministers was misrepresented on her passport documents, the government has said it is open to reforming the system.

But in the preceding months, it had used the revocation measures at an unprecedented rate.

“The Liberals criticized these provisions when they were in opposition,” says Laura Track of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association. “They said they were going to fix it. And yet they have been using it even more than the Conservatives did.”

The government says the revocation decisions are being taken to protect the integrity of the citizenship system and are aimed at cases of fraud.

Nancy Caron of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada said “many cases that are being processed for revocation are as a result of large-scale investigations into possible residence fraud.”

The department carried out those investigations with Canada Border Services Agency and the RCMP. Investigations led by those agencies have resulted in the conviction of immigration consultants who helped individuals obtain citizenship illegally.

“The revocation process is then undertaken to determine whether the individuals associated with these investigations, fraudulently obtained their Canadian citizenship through having intentionally misled the government of Canada about key aspects of their citizenship application such as concealing past criminal activities or submitting false documents to demonstrate residence in Canada when in fact they were not living in Canada‎. Many of the decisions to revoke citizenship that have been made since May 2015 directly result from those investigations,” Caron said in an email to CBC News.

Source: Trudeau government revoking citizenship at much higher rate than Conservatives – Politics – CBC News

Immigration [citizenship] fraud makes us vulnerable: Hassan

Farzana Hassan on the OAG report on citizenship fraud (Gaps in Ottawa’s detection of citizenship fraud, auditor finds):

According to a Sun story Tuesday: “Michael Ferguson’s report uncovered instances of people with serious criminal records and others using potentially phony addresses, among those who managed to secure Canadian citizenship, thanks to holes throughout not just the Immigration Department but the RCMP and Canada Border Services Agency as well.”

Of course, we should expect some mistakes in any government department, but it is reasonable to ask how widespread is the failure to weed out undesirable people from entering Canada and what will be done to solve the problem?

Immigration Minister John McCallum reacted to the report by saying the Liberal government is already looking into the issue and trying to address the problem. But the public needs something more tangible from the government than a formulaic response.

Andrew Griffith, author of the book, Multiculturalism in Canada: Evidence and Anecdote, writes in his blog entitled Multicultural Meanderings, “One of the lasting legacies of the Conservative government was increased attention to the integrity of the program, beyond the issues identified in the OAG report (e.g., rotating citizenship test questions, more rigorous and consistent language assessment, and the integrity measures of C-24).”

The Trudeau government has retained many of these controls, but the technology solutions enabling effective oversight need to be refined.

Griffith is convinced the problem is not too widespread, but the current high reliance on manual data entry and human triggered searches is so critically prone to error that a simple spelling mistake can cause a failure in the system.

Automated alerts need to be in place. Electronic scanning for data accuracy and compatibility between security organizations needs to be a priority.

The stakes are high, and the current system has too many holes to provide the kind of assurance to which Canadians are entitled.

Despite the optimism of observers like Griffith, it is clear the system needs a thorough overhaul, especially when immigration in many cases is being aggressively and fraudulently pursued in terror-exporting countries like Pakistan and others in the Middle East.

Human error will continue to play a role in any system. But in an electronic age, automatic identification technology and smart systems that use leading-edge applications can significantly reduce mistakes.

Canadians deserve to know they are safe from people with criminal records and jihadi mindsets

Source: Immigration fraud makes us vulnerable | HASSAN | Columnists | Opinion | Toronto

Gaps in Ottawa’s detection of citizenship fraud, auditor finds

I did not find this OAG study all that surprising, particularly the challenges of maintaining accurate and consistent database records (e.g., spelling of addresses) and the lack of consistent follow-up to any cases flagged.

One of the lasting legacies of the Conservative government was increased attention to the integrity of the program, beyond the issues identified in the OAG report (e.g., rotating citizenship test questions, more rigorous and consistent language assessment, and the integrity measures of C-24).

But like many OAG reports, it is weak with respect to the materiality of fraud and the gaps it uncovered.

Six addresses out of 9,778 that IRCC officials missed is 0.06 percent. Other aspects are more problematic, multiple versions of addresses in particular, as well as lack of follow-up to warning flags and coordination between IRCC and RCMP or CBSA.

IRCC’s own number of revocation cases pending is 700, again a relatively small number (0.14 percent) compared to  the large numbers of new citizens in the past two years (500,000). And of course there is no comparative data in the report on permanent residency, EI, CPP or other program fraud to relate compare these numbers with.

So while any fraud is by definition unacceptable, the realities of large programs means that some degree, as small as possible, is inevitable, and ongoing attention to reducing its incidence is necessary:

Canada’s immigration department did not properly detect and prevent citizenship fraud, resulting in the review of some 700 citizenship cases as of January, according to Auditor-General Michael Ferguson’s spring report.

The report, tabled in the House of Commons Tuesday morning, found a number of concerns in the citizenship program affecting the department’s capability to prevent citizenship fraud, including the absence of a method to identify and document fraud risks.

“We concluded that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s (IRCC) efforts to detect and prevent citizenship fraud were not adequate,” said Mr. Ferguson in a prepared statement. “These gaps make it difficult for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada to assess the impacts of its efforts to combat citizenship fraud.”

…According to the report, the most common reasons for revoking citizenship are residency and identity fraud, and undeclared criminal proceedings.

The report found that citizenship officers did not consistently apply their own methods to identify and prevent fraud when dealing with suspicious immigration documents, such as altered passports. For example, in one region, citizenship officers did not seize any suspicious documents for in-depth analysis since at least 2010, while they did in another.

It was also found that citizenship officers did not have the information they needed to properly identify “problem addresses” when making decisions to grant citizenship. Problem addresses are those known or suspected to be associated with fraud, and used by citizenship applicants to meet residency requirements for citizenship.

“For example, one address was not identified as a problem even though it had been used by 50 different applicants, seven of whom were granted citizenship,” said Mr. Ferguson.

The problem was further complicated by poor sharing of information with the RCMP, which provides information about criminal behaviour among permanent residents, and the Canada Border Services Agency, which leads investigations of immigration fraud, said the report.

While the department did not track the exact number of citizenship fraud risks, it reported 700 pending revocation cases as of January. According to the report, revoking citizenship after fraud is discovered is “time consuming and costly.”

Source: Gaps in Ottawa’s detection of citizenship fraud, auditor finds – The Globe and Mail,

Dozens of fraudsters and suspected criminals became Canadian citizens, watchdog says in damning report

Liberals order investigation into possible citizenship fraud