New Immigration Act Protects Canada From Fraudsters

By Klaudios Mustakas | July 21, 2015

Canada’s New Immigration Protection Act

Klaudios Mustakas – Senior Immigration Advisor: Bill C-24, aka the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act, came into force this month with relatively little fanfare from the Canadian government, but some hand wringing in the press.

The Act serves as a major overhaul of the 1977 Citizenship Act, which itself replaced the 1947 Citizenship Act. As you can see, changes to the citizenship rules don’t happen everyday.

Major changes brought about by this Act include:
1) Increasing the number of days an individual must reside in Canada before they are eligible for Canadian Citizenship. The new rules require applicants who are permanent residents to “physically reside” in Canada for a total of 4 years in a 6 year period. Any year used in the calculation must have a minimum of 183 days of physical residency. Further, you can not count any time a person resided in Canada as a visitor.
2) You must show an intent to reside in Canada after becoming a Canadian citizen.
3) The government can revoke the citizenship of any Canadian who has dual citizenship and has been involved in acts of terrorism.

Most individuals will not be aware that they’ve been flagged until they show up at a Canadian port of entry, only to be arrested by officers of the Canada Border Service Agency.

Many Canadian passport holders who received their citizenship, Permanent Residence status, or Canadian passport through fraud or misrepresentation are now on borrowed time.
This new Act is created in part to deal with individuals who obtain or maintain Canadian status without meeting the most basic requirements. In order to maintain one’s Permanent Residence status, an individual must reside (with very few exceptions) in Canada for a minimum of two years within a five year period. To apply for Canadian citizenship, the Permanent Resident must physically reside in Canada for 4 out of the last 6 years preceding their application.
Unfortunately, some individuals use the services of unscrupulous lawyers or consultants or even family members to fraudulently establish false evidence that they have resided in Canada for the required period. As a former CBSA official, I have seen such practices first hand.
This Act will now make it easier for the government to go after such fraudsters. By the government’s own figures, more than 3000 cases are in the process of having their status revoked and another 8000 are under investigation or have been flagged for further review. As former Minister of Immigration Jason Kenney said when this crackdown began, “We will not stand by and allow people to lie and cheat their way into becoming citizens.”
Most individuals will not be aware that they’ve been flagged until they show up at a Canadian port of entry, only to be arrested by officers of the Canada Border Service Agency. Their illusion that they will be Canadians then comes to an abrupt end.
People who have no intention of residing in Canada , but are looking for other citizenship options, have other means to accomplish their goals. Countries in the Caribbean and Europe do offer programs that provide automatic citizenship or permanent residence status with little if any residency requirements. With the passage of this new Act, Canada has become a less palatable option for those dishonestly seeking citizenship of convenience.