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Conservatives Continue Their Crackdown On What They “Citizenship” Fraud

CALGARY – Conservativegovernment, which is perceivedto be anti-immigrant, continuesto crackdown on what they arecalling citizenship fraud butcritics say it is just masking theirintentions of making it hard forimmigrants to come to Canadaand settle here.This week, Citizenship andImmigration Minister ChrisAlexander said he was reinforcingthe government’s commitmentto tackling citizenshipfraud through measures proposedin Bill C-24, theStrengthening CanadianCitizenship Act.“The government is crackingdown on citizenship fraud byenforcing stronger penalties forthose who do not play by therules. Changes to theCitizenship Act reinforce thevalue of citizenship and willhelp ensure new Canadians arefully prepared to participate inCanadian life and have astronger attachment to ourcountry,” said Alexander.Under the new legislation, thegovernment will have theauthority to develop regulationsto designate a regulatory bodywhose members would beauthorized to act as consultantson citizenship matters. Thischange will help protect applicantsand deter third-partyfraud.Bill C-24 reinforces the value ofcitizenship by cracking down onfraud and ensuring Canadiancitizenship is only offered tothose who play by the rules.Proposed measures include:•stronger penalties for fraudand misrepresentation (a maximumfine of $100,000 and/orfive years in prison);•expanding the grounds to baran application for citizenship toinclude foreign criminalitywhich will help improve programintegrity; and•making it an offence for unauthorizedindividuals to knowinglyrepresent or advise a personon a citizenship applicationor hearing for a fee.According to the government,ongoing large-scale fraud investigationsconducted by theRoyal Canadian Mounted Police(RCMP) have identified morethan 3,000 citizens and 5,000permanent residents linked tomajor investigations—a majorityof them related to residence.In addition, nearly 2,000 individualslinked to the citizenshipfraud investigations have withdrawntheir applications.“Stronger penalties for thosewho commit citizenship fraudwill protect the integrity ofCanadian citizenship. The government’schanges to theCitizenship Act reinforce themessage that Canadian citizenshipis valued around the globeand will be afforded those whorecognize that it comes withduties and rights, privileges andresponsibilities.,” saidAlexander. Bill C-24 will also:•provides a clearer indicationthat the “residence” period toqualify for citizenship in factrequires a physical presence inCanada;•requires applicants to meetmore stringent languagerequirements and pass a knowledgetest;•includes provisions that willhelp individuals with strong tiesto Canada, such as by automaticallyextending citizenship toadditional “Lost Canadians”who were born before 1947 (or1949 in Newfoundland) as wellas to their children born in thefirst generation outside Canada;and•The ability to communicateeffectively in either French orEnglish is a key factor in thesuccess of newcomers toCanada. This has been borneout in a number of studieslooking at the connectionbetween language ability andsuccessful integration intoCanadian society.•As a result of changes proposedin Bill C-24, applicantswill need to be physically presentin Canada for a total of fourout of their last six years. Inaddition, they would need to bephysically present in Canada for183 days per year for at leastfour of those six years.•Proposed changes to theCitizenship Act would requireapplicants to file Canadianincome taxes, if required underthe Income Tax Act, in order tobe eligible to apply for citizenship.

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