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As reported by Joe Friesen of the Globe and Mail, approximately 300 applications for Canadian citizenship directed to a single address in Mississauga, Ontario are subject of an RCMP Investigation. The suspicion is that applicants who live abroad may have retained the services of unscrupulous Immigration Consultants to file these applications naming a fake address.
In order to qualify for Canadian Citizenship, applicants are generally required to live in Canada for three years of the four years proceeding the application. As part of the application process, applicants are required to enter their Canadian address on the Canadian citizenship application form and have a Canadian address as part of proof of their Canadian residency.
The address under investigation is located at Palestine House in Mississauga, a language and settlement service centre for Arab and Palestinian immigrants. But apparently no one really lives at this location.
This case illustrates a chronic problem in the immigration and citizenship industry: unscrupulous immigration consultants filing fraudulent applications for financial gain. In this case, it is suspected that overseas applicants who never had a chance for Canadian citizenship may have hired immigration consultants to get them Canadian citizenship in the hopes of making higher wages abroad. Holding Canadian passports gives such workers a leg-up in the pay scale in places like Dubai.
The RCMP has no idea how many of these applicants actually obtained Canadian citizenship. But Citizenship Judges have been notified about the problem.
It is clear that 300 people do not live at the Palestinian House. Therefore 300 potential citizenship applicants may be roaming the world with Canadian passports who have no business calling themselves citizens. It is time that the Federal Government invest more resources in catching these wayward immigration consultants who are responsible for perpetrating such fraud.
One way to stop it is for the public themselves to be better educated on who can or cannot call themselves immigration consultants or immigration lawyers. Firstly, immigration consultants now have to be licensed by the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants (CSIC). There is a list of licensed members. And even before you inquire about a consultants CSIC membership, make sure they are themselves Canadian citizens or Canadian Permanent Residents. If not, they have no standing to file an application on behalf of anyone for a fee.
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