Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney expressed his optimism on greater cooperation with Pakistani authorities in combating crooked immigration consultants following a meeting with Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik.
“I am delighted that Minister Malik understands that unscrupulous, unlicensed immigration consultants operating in Pakistan are often misleading or defrauding would-be visitors and immigrants to Canada,” Minister Kenney said. “Minister Malik expressed to me his concern with widespread advertisements placed by apparently unlicensed immigration agents who promise ‘guaranteed’ visas to Canada, and he committed to cracking down on those agents who are acting unlawfully.”
Kenney also raised the fraud issue on a major trip last fall to Paris, Beijing, New Delhi, Chandigarh, Hong Kong and Manila. He met Minister Malik after attending memorial ceremonies in Islamabad for Pakistan’s Minister of Minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti, who was assassinated.
“Minister Malik indicated a keen interest in having Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) work closely with Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to identify and bring charges against unlicensed immigration agents and document counterfeiters,” Minister Kenney said.
“I thanked Minister Malik for his awareness of the problem of immigration fraud, and his desire to help us crack down on it. I assured him that by taking meaningful law enforcement action against the profiteers who prepare and submit fraudulent applications and documents, we will be able to better serve Pakistani citizens who submit bona fide applications for Canadian visas. I further assured him that CIC will work closely with officials of Pakistan’s Interior Ministry and with the FIA to identify unlicensed agents involved in exploiting Pakistanis and facilitating immigration fraud.
“Immigration fraud is a serious offence that implicates both applicants and consultants. That is why, last year, I introduced the Cracking Down on Crooked Consultants Act which, if passed, proposes new and stronger penalties for being a crooked immigration consultant, including fines or prison, or both.
“That’s why I also introduced the Strengthening the Value of Canadian Citizenship Act which, if passed, will amend the Citizenship Act by increasing the penalties for fraud and strengthening citizenship residence requirements to specify in law that people applying for citizenship would have to be physically present in Canada for three of the previous four years.
“This deepened Canada-Pakistani cooperation to combat crooked consultants is a continuation of my efforts launched in January 2009 when I visited Pakistan and met with Pakistani enforcement authorities. In our follow-up meeting, I discussed a range of security issues with Minister Malik, including the recent assassination of the late Shahbaz Bhatti, as well as Pakistan’s efforts to combat terrorism and to build Afghanistan-Pakistan border cooperation through the Canada-sponsored Dubai Process. I look forward to the continued cooperation of our two countries.”