Cheating Canada

By Zhang Hui Source:Global Times Published: 2015-9-23 19:48:02

Chinese immigrants use fraud to acquire foreign residency

Immigration agency consultants talk with potential clients at an immigration and investment expo in Shanghai on March 2, 2014. Photo: CFP

A recently exposed immigration case in Canada, in which an unlicensed immigration consultant allegedly helped over 1,000 Chinese nationals illegally acquire Canadian citizenship or residency, will lead to a stricter immigration policies towards Chinese, observers said.

The consultant, Wang Xun, who ran two illegal immigration firms in Vancouver, was charged with 10 offences in October 2014 including advising foreign nationals to provide misleading and untruthful statements on their permanent resident card renewal applications, forgery and fraud, according to an announcement by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the Canada Revenue Agency, the country's tax collector.

The CBSA described the case as a "significant" fraud, as it involved a large number of clients. Although the exact number of clients is still unclear, Wang's lawyer, Ritchie Clark, estimated it at several hundred. "All of them are Chinese," Clark told the Global Times via an e-mail interview.

Canadian Federal Crown counsel Bruce Harper, the lawyer representing the government in this case, told local media that the total number is likely to exceed 1,000.

Wang faced a sentencing hearing in the provincial court in Vancouver on September 17. "Wang has pleaded guilty to a number of charges, and he will be sentenced on October 23," Clark said, adding that further details are not available as the judges are still deciding his sentence.

Wang was arrested in October 2014, and has been in custody since June, according to The Vancouver Sun.

This is not an isolated case in a country which sees an average of 30,000 new Chinese immigrants every year, and immigration fraud involving Chinese has also been reported in countries including the US and New Zealand.

"After the exposure of this case, Canada will further tighten its immigration requirements toward Chinese people," Liu Guofu, a scholar on Immigration Law at Beijing Institute of Technology, told the Global Times. 

Waves of immigrants

The number of immigrants applying to live in Canada has risen in recent years, as now one can apply for residency directly to individual Canadian regions rather than only to the federal government and the country has adopted a faster immigration system, said a Beijing-based immigration consultant surnamed Zhang.

In January, the Canadian government implemented an electronic immigration system known as Express Entry to issue permanent resident permits to immigrants more quickly.

China has been the largest source of Canada's new permanent residents for several years. Around 33,000 new permanent residents were Chinese in 2012, and that number rose to almost 34,000 in 2013, according to the latest Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration published on the Canadian government's website. Canada admitted 258,953 new permanent residents in 2013, a slight increase over the 257,887 that came to the country in 2012.

Canada's Chinese populations are highly concentrated in Vancouver and Toronto. Richmond, the Vancouver satellite city where Wang lives, is Canada's only majority-Chinese city. Protests from locals over monolingual Chinese-language advertisements and signs occasionally make it to the front pages of Canadian newspapers.

One of the difficulties for applicants is to secure a job in Canada; many immigration firms including Zhang's offer to help find work for applicants, Zhang said.

Wang's firms also offered such a service, but he created fake jobs, according to Canadian media.

Wang's clients were aware of this scam and were willing to use it to gain Canadian citizenship, Clark said, adding that the status of those people will be reviewed by the immigration authorities.

Liu said the authorities will likely annul the residency permits of those who gained permanent resident status through Wang's fraud, and they will face penalties including jail sentences and fines, and will finally be deported to China.

Clark, Wang's lawyer, said that he has dealt with a number of improper or failed residency application cases in the past.

Liu said many countries have already adopted strict immigration policies toward Chinese.

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