ICYMI: ‘They were very persistent’: CBC finds more cash-for-jobs immigration schemes

Good article on one of the fraud schemes, appears largely related to Saskatchewan’s provincial nominee program:

An ongoing court case suggests this sort of thing may have been going on for years in Saskatchewan.

In December 2015, Qi Wang and Yujuan Cui, a couple from White City, Sask. — a bedroom community of Regina — were charged with violating the Criminal Code and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act for allegedly creating fake job offers or inducing others to do so.

The husband and wife, who now live in Roberts Creek, B.C., are set to stand trial in January for their actions related to hundreds of immigration files in Saskatchewan.

Wang and Cui have been on the radar of immigration authorities since 2008.

In its fact statement filed in court, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) says from 2008 to 2010, the province of Saskatchewan had suspended Wang from using its Immigrant Nominee Program because “he had been offering jobs from Saskatchewan companies that were not in existence and offering positions from a company for which authorization had not been received.”

Then, in 2012, CBSA was tipped off by provincial officials about some more suspicious activity.

During the two-year investigation that followed, from 2012 to 2014, CBSA seized material including “documents containing signature blocks and business header information taped onto job offers as well as documents with the employer’s email address portion cut out or taped over with a new address.”

Investigators allege that Wang and Cui made fake job offers to Chinese nationals, sometimes using non-existent companies. They also theorize that the couple approached and counselled “legitimate Saskatchewan companies to provide fraudulent job offers to Chinese nationals” and promised “to compensate legitimate Saskatchewan companies for providing fraudulent job offers.”

In all, CBSA says the couple “illegally received $600,000 from Chinese nationals” and “paid out approximately $95,000 to seventeen different Saskatchewan business owners.”

In documents seized from the couple, investigators found the names of 1,229 people. The province had received immigration applications from 422 of them.

CBSA found that 27 of those had their applications rejected, but 78 had already become permanent residents.

The court document says “CBSA did not have the capacity to ascertain with certainty the number of applications that were fraudulent.”

Permanent residency marketed as ‘commodity’

None of this is surprising to Raj Sharma, a Calgary immigration lawyer who used to work for the immigration refugee board as a hearing officer.

“Wherever you have this hot economy and favourable immigration climate, you’re gonna see this type of action,” he said.

He said this is precisely the sort of thing they’ve been seeing for years in Alberta.

Sharma said he knows it goes on because he regularly gets calls from people wanting his firm to find them a job in exchange for money — which he says is illegal.

“We respond and say that’s not what we do. But obviously they make that inquiry because there are others who do,” he said.

He said those who are willing to flout the law can command “five to 10 to 100 times more than our fees.”

“Canadian residency is a sought-after commodity and an asset,” he said.

He insisted in order to stop people from exploiting that fact, enforcement needs to be tougher and the rules need to be strengthened.

He said that’s especially so in Saskatchewan, where the program “is looser and more generous than Alberta.”

When asked about CBC’s Vstar investigation, the Saskatchewan premier’s office responded with a brief written statement, saying, “Saskatchewan has the strongest nominee program in Canada and we are determined to make sure that it remains the strongest.”

“As always, the government treats any suspected immigration infractions very seriously. Government officials look into information provided by anyone showing potential evidence of wrongdoing.”

When asked, the premier’s office didn’t explain what it meant by “strongest.”

Sharma said Alberta prioritizes approving the immigration applications of people who already live in the province and work or study there, whereas Saskatchewan “will still allow someone to come directly from overseas and I think perhaps that should be tightened up.”

He said it’s implausible that someone from China with weak language skills would be able to land a job in Canada without assistance.

And he said there are many who are willing to “help.”

“It is inevitably fostering fraud,” Sharma said.

Source: ‘They were very persistent’: CBC finds more cash-for-jobs immigration schemes – Saskatchewan – CBC News

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About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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