Canada is carrying out the biggest citizenship-fraud crackdown in its history, the country's immigration minister said Friday.
Jason Kenney said the federal government is investigating 6,500 people from more than 100 countries for their allegedly fraudulent attempts to become Canadian citizens or maintain permanent resident status.
Kenney said Canada is seeking to revoke citizenship from more than 2,100 people who cheated the system _ a total that has climbed from 1,800 last July.
"This is by far _ by many orders of magnitude _ the largest enforcement action ever taken in the history of Canadian citizenship," said Kenney, who spoke from a podium adorned with a sign that read: "Canadian citizenship is not for sale."
The federal government is also monitoring 4,400 permanent residents believed to be involved in residence fraud in case they try to obtain citizenship.
Kenney said nearly 1,400 of these individuals, most of whom are outside the country, have since withdrawn or abandoned their residency application because of the heightened scrutiny.
Kenney said Canada has the highest rate of immigrants in the developed world who go on to become citizens.
The Citizenship Act was adopted in 1947. The minister said the federal government had yanked citizenship from about only 80 individuals until this year.
To become a citizen, a permanent resident is supposed to have lived in Canada for three years in a four-year period. Permanent residents must be physically present in Canada for two years out of five to retain their status.
Kenney also issued a warning to "crooked" immigration consultants who offer to help foreigners meet residency requirements and acquire Canadian citizenship without ever having to live in Canada.