Probe opens on P.E.I. im­mi­grants al­leged to have used fake ad­dresses

The Western Star - - ATLANTIC - BY MICHAEL TUTTON

A sec­ond fed­eral probe is un­der­way in Prince Ed­ward Is­land al­leg­ing hun­dreds of peo­ple gained per­ma­nent res­i­dency in Canada by us­ing lo­cal ad­dresses where they didn’t live, un­der a pro­vin­cial busi­ness im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem that’s faced crit­i­cism for loose over­sight.

A search war­rant from the Canada Bor­der Ser­vices Agency (CBSA) al­leges 462 ap­pli­cants to the pro­vin­cial nom­i­nee pro­gram used Char­lot­te­town homes be­long­ing to two Chi­nese im­mi­grants over the past four years as “ad­dresses of con­ve­nience.”

Lead in­ves­ti­ga­tor Lana Hicks says in the doc­u­ment, filed June 13, that she sus­pects the im­mi­grants didn’t come to the Is­land and set­tle, con­trary to the re­quire­ments of the pro­vin­cial pro­gram.

Rather, she al­leged their im­mi­gra­tion doc­u­ments are col­lected and sent on to them, “at their real ad­dress else­where in Canada or back in China,” she writes.

The al­le­ga­tions, which have not been proven in court, come just two months af­ter two Char­lot­te­town hote­liers were charged with aid­ing in im­mi­gra­tion fraud, with the CBSA al­leg­ing 566 im­mi­grants used the ad­dresses of the sib­lings’ ho­tel and home.

The sib­lings’ lawyer re­cently de­nied the al­le­ga­tions of mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion in com­ments to re­porters, and said they in­tend to plead not guilty.

How­ever, the lat­est al­le­ga­tions, if they lead to charges, would bring the to­tal num­ber of “ad­dress of con­ve­nience” cases to about 1,000 in the pro­vin­cial nom­i­nee pro­gram (PNP), with all but a few of these im­mi­grants gain­ing per­ma­nent res­i­dency in Canada.

Per­ma­nent res­i­dents are im­mi­grants who are not Cana­dian cit­i­zens, but they have been given per­mis­sion to stay and work in Canada for five years be­fore ap­ply­ing for re­newal. They have most of the rights of cit­i­zens and can take ad­van­tage of so­cial pro­grams, but they can’t vote, seek pub­lic of­fice, ob­tain a Cana­dian pass­port or hold jobs that re­quire a se­cu­rity clear­ance.

Un­der the P.E.I. pro­gram, the ap­pli­cants pro­vide the Is­land govern­ment with a $200,000 re­fund­able de­posit, and com­mit to in­vest $150,000 and man­age a firm.

Af­ter the deal is signed, the prov­ince nom­i­nates the in­vestor to the fed­eral Im­mi­gra­tion De­part­ment as a per­ma­nent res­i­dent, which they usu­ally re­ceive in the mail be­fore they ful­fil the con­di­tions of set­ting up a busi­ness and liv­ing on the Is­land.

The prov­ince has al­ready ac­knowl­edged that two-thirds of the PNP busi­nesses in 2016-17, a to­tal of 177 peo­ple, didn’t get the re­fund­able de­posit back, with the ma­jor­ity sim­ply never open­ing a busi­ness.

The June search war­rant al­leges that the 462 peo­ple giv­ing the three Char­lot­te­town ad­dresses are “well be­yond what would be ex­pected for sin­gle dwelling homes,” and says the use of the ad­dresses is “con­cern­ing and un­rea­son­able.”

“The num­bers are in­dica­tive of what is known within Im­mi­gra­tion, Refugees and Cit­i­zen­ship Canada and Canada Bor­der Ser­vices Agency as an ‘ad­dress of con­ve­nience,’ which is cre­ated to fa­cil­i­tate im­mi­gra­tion fraud,” writes Hicks.

Hicks based her view that peo­ple weren’t liv­ing full-time at the homes partly on surveil­lance of the houses, and from “garbage grab” searches of doc­u­ments thrown out from the homes.

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