By: Kerry Molitor
Telling the Truth in Your Application is Important.
When clients come to me for immigration advice I always mention the importance of full disclosure in an application. That includes telling the whole truth when answering questions on the forms and providing only genuine documents. Most people seeking immigration advice are committed to following the law, but occasionally someone comes to me trying to manipulate the system to their advantage.
There are several reasons why this is a bad idea. The most obvious reason is that it is against the law to misrepresent or lie about the facts of a case. Despite this, people think they can get away with things like exaggerating work history, making up refugee claims, and hiding the existence of family members who might harm the success of an application. Sometimes immigration applicants get away with committing fraud, but often it backfires on them even years later.
Possible consequences of misrepresentation include having the application refused, being barred from entering Canada, having a permanent record of fraud in Canada’s global immigration database, having status as a permanent resident or Canadian citizen taken away, being charged with a crime, and being removed from Canada. The applicant’s spouse and children may also be negatively impacted by the misrepresentation.
Even people who encourage someone to commit immigration fraud can face fines of up to $100,000 and five years of imprisonment. Jin ‘Fanny’ Ma, Wen ‘Vivian’ Jiang, and Ming Kun ‘Makkie’ Wu of British Columbia have learned this the hard.
These women, lead by Xun ‘Sunny’ Wang, committed residency fraud for up to 1,200 clients of their unlicensed immigration business. Wang has already been sentenced to seven years in jail for convictions on multiple charges.
Under Canadian law, permanent residents must be physically present in Canada for 730 days out of every five years. They also must meet separate residency requirements to apply for Canadian citizenship. Occasionally people want the benefits of living in Canada, such as free health care, without actually living in Canada and paying taxes. In response to this growing trend, the Canadian government has started asking for detailed proof of residency in Canada.
According to CBC News, the Canada Border Services Agency started investigating Wang’s criminal enterprise in 2010, when immigration officials noticed that multiple applications for immigration documents showed 63 people using the same house as their residential address. The CBSA looked at those applications and found that each of the applicants was represented by the same company. This triggered an investigation into all the company’s clients.
Now approximately 1,200 people are being investigated for residency and citizenship fraud. Most of these clients are not victims of scammers. They knew that they did not live at the address given on their application forms. They were deliberately mispresenting their country of residence to obtain or keep Canadian benefits.
The fraud went beyond simply misrepresenting a residential address. Wang and his staff advised clients to get multiple passports, one used to travel to Canada and one used for travel elsewhere. They also arranged for the passports to receive false stamps showing frequent entries and exits from China so it appeared that these clients were only visitors to China, not residents.
Wang’s staff set up fake Canadian lives for people living overseas, including fake addresses, phone numbers, and employment. All this was done to create paperwork showing that his clients were living in Canada when they were not. Wang also incorporated shell companies that appeared to hire his clients. The clients then gave him money to pay back to them as salary so it looked like they were employed by these companies in Canada.
The fraud perpetrated by Wang and his staff is a good example of why it is important to use an ethical immigration advisor. Wang’s 1,200 clients were caught because they were part of a pattern of deceit. The Canada Border Services Agency saw the pattern and brought down Wang and everyone else associated with him.