Government of Canada Cracking Down on Citizenship Fraud

CIC News
Published: August 5, 2014

In order to be eligible to obtain Canadian citizenship, prospective Canadian citizens must meet a number of requirements. One such requirement is a minimum 1,095 days spent living in Canada in the four years before the date that the individual’s citizenship application is signed. 

In 2012, the Government of Canada announced a crackdown on new Canadian citizens who lied about the amount of time they had spent in Canada prior to obtaining Canadian citizenship. Since then, officials have been acting swiftly to punish offenders. Canadian police are currently targeting about 11,000 people from over 100 countries who are suspected of defrauding the government by misrepresenting their periods of residency in Canada. Additionally, nearly 2000 other people have withdrawn their applications after questioning from officials.

An example of fraudulent Canadian citizens being punished occurred earlier this month, when the Government of Canada stripped members of a Lebanese family of their Canadian citizenship and fined them $63,000 after the amount of time they had claimed to have spent in Canada before obtaining citizenship was found to be false. The family signed citizenship forms claiming they had lived in Canada for almost four years. However, government officials revisited the case, making a diplomatic request to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the family’s travel records. They concluded that the family had really spent the vast majority of their time in the UAE. The judge declared their applications contained “patently false information”.

“Determining whether you meet residency requirements is not always easy,” said Attorney David Cohen. “However, in light of the government’s recent crackdown on citizens who did not have adequate physical presence in Canada before applying for citizenship, I recommend that individuals, who seek Canadian citizenship, ensure they spend the minimum 1,095 days in Canada in the four years before sending in an application.”

Meeting the Requirements

Citizenship applicants can avoid scrutiny and maximize their chances of success by complying with the rules. There are a number of requirements that must be met in order to be eligible to obtain Canadian citizenship as an adult. All applicants must:

  • Be permanent residents;
  • Be at least 18 years of age;
  • Have lived in Canada for at least 1,095 days in the four years before the date that their application is signed (time spent residing legally in Canada prior to acquiring permanent residency counts as a half day of residency);
  • Have adequate knowledge of English or French;
  • Have adequate knowledge of Canada and the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship;
  • Not be under removal order (ordered to leave Canada);
  • Not be considered a security risk; and
  • Not be criminally prohibited.
  • Attend a ceremony and take the oath of citizenship.

As mentioned above, the Government of Canada has been strict about the requirement for citizenship applicants to have spent 1,095 days Canada in the last four years before the date their application is signed. However, in the past, there have been cases where individuals have been granted citizenship without meeting this requirement. The confusion regarding such cases is due to the fact that determining one’s period of residency in Canada is not always a straightforward process.

Generally, individuals must be physically present in the country in order to earn Canadian residency days. However, this regulation has been successfully contested in Federal Court before on numerous occasions. In some cases, individuals are compelled to leave Canada (for instance, while working for a Canadian company abroad). These individuals may be eligible to apply for citizenship based on a combination of factors that assess their connection to Canada. However these cases are rare and only a citizenship judge can determine if an applicant meets the residence requirements with fewer than 1,095 days of physical presence.

To find out if you are eligible to immigrate through any of Canada’s over 60 immigration programs, please fill out an online assessment today. 

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