Area of Law: Criminal Law
Answer # 1805
Immigration fraudRegion: Ontario Answer # 1805
There are many types of immigration fraud. If you believe you are a victim of fraud, you should call the police. If you have been charged with a criminal offence such as fraud, it is important to hire an experienced criminal defence lawyer as soon as possible.
Common types of immigration fraud
1. Lying or providing false information on an application: misrepresentation
If you lie on an application or in an interview with an Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) officer, this is fraud.
Providing false or altered information on any type of immigration application – known as misrepresentation – is immigration document fraud. Documents may include:
- certificates of birth, marriage, final divorce, annulment, separation, or death;
- passports and travel documents;
- diplomas, degrees, and apprenticeship or trade papers; and
- police certificates
If you send false documents or information, IRCC will refuse your application and may also:
- forbid you from entering Canada for at least 5 years;
- give you a permanent record of fraud with IRCC;
- take away your status as a permanent resident or Canadian citizen;
- have you charged with a crime(which can result in imprisonment and/or fines); or
- remove you from Canada.
2. Fraud committed by immigration professionals – counselling misrepresentation
Immigration fraud can be committed by individuals wishing to immigrate to Canada, as well as people hired as licensed immigration professionals. Under the Citizenship Act, this is known as counselling misrepresentation.
In the case of immigration professionals, the person is usually:
- an immigration professional properly licensed by a Canadian province,
- an individual pretending to be a licensed immigration professional in Canada, or
- a foreigner purporting to be, or who actually is licensed in their country.
The immigration professional can commit fraud in many ways, and it usually involves one or more of the following:
- a promise to file applications for which the fraudster collects fees but which the fraudster does not file,
- the collection of ‘extra’ fees to ‘guarantee’ the success of the application, which is solely the decision of the Canadian Federal Government,
- falsifying the applicant’s documents,
- provide the applicant with false documents,
- encouraging the applicant to enter into a fake marriage, or ‘marriage of convenience’, and file documents where the immigration professional did not encourage, but had prior knowledge of the fake marriage.
The fraudster may find their victims through a fake ‘immigration services’ website, or by posing as a consultant in a phone call or email, or they may find their victims through legitimate business channels.
If found guilty of counselling misrepresentation under the Act, an individual could face imprisonment and/or fines.
3. Citizenship and Visa fraud
Citizenship fraud occurs many ways, including when an individual:
- pretends to live in Canada in order to become a citizen
- uses someone else’s citizenship documents to personate that person
- does not provide all information relevant to their application for citizenship
- knowingly uses a citizenship document with false information
- lives in Canada illegally, without the proper immigration documents
- overstays the time permitted by their visa
- works more hours than is allowed when living in Canada on a student visa
Penalties for committing citizenship fraud include possible imprisonment and/or heavy fines.
4. Marriage fraud
Marriage fraud, known as marriages of convenience, occurs when sponsors and foreign applicants enter a marriage or common-law relationship strictly to let the sponsored spouse or partner immigrate to Canada. IRCC officers can discover false marriages through
- document checks
- visits to people’s homes and
- interviews with both sponsors and applicants
If a Canadian citizen or permanent resident commits marriage fraud as a sponsor they may be charged with a crime.
If an applicant attempts to enter into a marriage of convenience, IRCC can:
- charge them with crime (which can result in imprisonment and/or fines)
- refuse their visa
- ban them from travel to Canada for 5 years
- remove them from Canada
More information on immigration fraud can be found from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.
If you discover you are a victim of fraud, it is a good idea to contact a fraud recovery expert for advice.
If you have been charged with a fraud or any criminal offence, contact our preferred criminal law expert, Calvin Barry Criminal Lawyers.
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