OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 20, 2013) - Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney is advising Canadians and newcomers to inform themselves to avoid becoming victims of immigration fraud during Fraud Prevention Month.
"I have heard stories from victims across the country that have been left emotionally and financially devastated because of immigration fraud," said Minister Kenney. "The best way to protect oneself is to become informed. I encourage Canadians, and especially newcomers, to visit the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) website during Fraud Prevention Month to learn about their rights and responsibilities as they relate to citizenship and immigration so they can protect themselves."
The focus of this year's Fraud Prevention Month for CIC is combating marriage fraud. A new video has been created which features real victims of marriage fraud and explains how others can avoid becoming victims. The government has also launched an ad campaign warning permanent residents and Canadian citizens to protect themselves against marriage fraud. To watch the video or view the ad campaign, visit: www.cic.gc.ca/fraud.
The focus last year was informing Canadians about unauthorized immigration consultants who guarantee visas or high-paying jobs for a fee, taking large sums of money with no tangible results for the prospective immigrant. To learn more about unregistered consultants, please visit: www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/representative/index.asp.
These initiatives seek to improve awareness of the dangers of citizenship and immigration fraud and equip people with the knowledge to avoid becoming victims of fraud. In recent years, the government has implemented a number of reforms to protect the integrity of Canada's immigration system. These include:
- Cracking down on unscrupulous immigration consultants. In June 2011, the government introduced legislation to designate the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC) as the new regulator of immigration consultants. All immigration consultants must be in good standing with the ICCRC in order to practice. Since June 2011, CIC has referred a number of cases to the ICCRC for investigation and disciplinary action.
- Deterring marriages of convenience. The government has implemented changes to deter people from using marriages of convenience to come to Canada. As of October 25, 2012, sponsored spouses or partners are subject to a conditional permanent residence measure and must live in a legitimate relationship with their sponsor for two years from the day they become a permanent resident. The government also introduced a sponsorship bar requiring sponsored spouses or partners to wait five years from the day they are granted permanent residence status in Canada before they can sponsor a new spouse or partner themselves.
- Combating residency fraud. The government is cracking down on residency fraud and has uncovered over 11,000 cases where individuals from over 100 countries lied about their presence in Canada to keep their permanent resident status or to become a Canadian citizen. Once news spread of the investigation, 1,800 citizenship applications were voluntarily withdrawn by the applicants themselves. The government has also created a citizenship fraud tip line. Canadians can contact Citizenshipfirstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-888-242-2100 to report citizenship fraud.
- Strengthening aspects of the International Student Program (ISP). The government has proposed regulatory changes which would aim to verify that study permit holders are genuine students by introducing new study permit conditions requiring students to enroll in and actively pursue a course or program of study after arrival in Canada. The proposed changes would also ensure that international students study at accredited institutions designated by provinces and territories.
"The Government continues to improve the integrity of Canada's immigration system," said Minister Kenney. "Through ongoing attempts to prevent fraud, we are sending a clear message. Canada's doors are open to the vast majority of newcomers who are hard-working and follow the rules, but Canadians have no tolerance for anyone who tries to jump the immigration line to gain entry to Canada or acquire permanent residency or citizenship through fraudulent means."
To report immigration fraud, please call the Border Watch Tip Line at 1-888-502-9060.
To learn more about immigration fraud, please visit www.cic.gc.ca/antifraud.
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Photos of Minister Kenney available at: www.cic.gc.ca/english/department/media/photos/high-res/index.asp.
Building a stronger Canada: Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) strengthens Canada's economic, social and cultural prosperity, helping ensure Canadian safety and security while managing one of the largest and most generous immigration programs in the world.