$120,000 Fine for Residence Fraud

By James Metcalfe | October 5, 2012

James Metcalfe – Pace Immigration: A Turkish couple have been fined $120K for lying to Canadian officials about their residence in Canada. Not only that, but presumably they have lost their Canadian residence status, as well. Ouch.  The National Post quotes Jason Kenney and Vic Toews here:

“Our government will not tolerate the deliberate abuse of Canada’s immigration system,” Mr. Kenney and Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said in a joint statement issued after the Ozceliks’ verdict. “Our message is clear: individuals who choose to commit fraud will be caught and punished.”

Citizenship and Immigration is cracking down on persons who have resident status and who are not living here. The Minister of Immigration made other comments recently about this phenomenon and referred to residence fraudsters as “spacemen.” Twenty years ago, they were commonly known as “astronauts,” referring to Hong Kong Chinese who spent hours in the air flying from Hong Kong to Vancouver to maintain their resident status.

Residence fraud results in huge fines.

Alas, in those days Canada Immigration did not have the tools they have today. These tools include Advance Passenger Notification from airlines on the arrival of all passengers, as well as electronic carding of all arrivals at a port of entry. The latter creates a record of entry in a database, which is known as a travel history.

While the system does not yet have a record of exits, it will probably soon have one, at least in the foreseeable future for persons crossing into the USA. As part of the perimeter security program with the US, Canada and the US will exchange information on arrivals and departures across the world’s “longest undefended border.” Times are getting tough for the fraudsters.

I believe Canada is very generous when it comes to maintaining resident status. One only has to reside physically in Canada for any 730 days in any 5 year period to maintain status. In addition, there are exceptions to the rule, including: working outside of Canada for a Canadian organization which has operations in Canada; accompanying a Canadian citizen’s spouse outside of Canada; and compelling humanitarian and compassionate ground which require a resident to be out of Canada.

From recent media reports and reported court cases, we will be hearing about more people losing their status. With this latest announcement, the government is obviously sending a message.