Report 2—Detecting and Preventing Fraud in the Citizenship Program
Audit at a Glance Report 2—Detecting and Preventing Fraud in the Citizenship Program
What we examined (see Focus of the audit)
This audit examined whether Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada detected and prevented fraud in adult citizenship applications to ensure that only applicants who met selected eligibility requirements were granted Canadian citizenship.
We also examined whether the Citizenship Program obtained accurate, complete, and timely information from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to inform its decisions to grant citizenship.
Why we did this audit
Verifying that applications are not fraudulent is a key activity when assessing eligibility for citizenship. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada reports that it must continually adjust its systems to combat new types of fraud in its programs. The impact of fraud in the Citizenship Program is that some people receive citizenship and all its associated benefits without being entitled to them. Also, once citizenship has been granted, revoking it—if fraud is discovered later—is time-consuming and costly. The Department reported that in January 2016, it had about 700 revocation cases pending.
What we concluded
We concluded that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada did not adequately detect and prevent fraud to ensure that only applicants who met selected eligibility requirements were granted Canadian citizenship.
What we found
Detecting and preventing fraud
Overall, we found that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada was not adequately detecting and preventing fraud in the Citizenship Program. The Department did not have a systematic method of identifying and documenting fraud risks in the Citizenship Program and did not verify that the measures it implemented to detect and prevent fraud were working as intended. We found that some important controls designed to help citizenship officers identify and act on fraud risks were not consistently applied. We also found that the Department was not reliably receiving from its partners—the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Canada Border Services Agency—important information on criminal charges and potential residency fraud that citizenship officers need to make informed decisions about granting citizenship.
These findings are important because failing to carry out essential steps, such as obtaining necessary information and conducting adequate analysis, creates gaps in the process that make it easier for people to obtain citizenship when they may not be eligible. Since revoking citizenship after it has been granted is costly, while the cost to grant it is far less, it is important to ensure that only eligible applicants receive it in the first place.
Recommendation. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada should improve its processes to enter and update problem addresses so they can be identified more reliably, and should establish quality control procedures to make sure citizenship officers implement these processes effectively and consistently.
Recommendation. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada should clarify citizenship officers’ authority to seize problem documents, provide officers with more detailed guidance and training, and ensure that officers implement this guidance.
Recommendation. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and the RCMP should revise their procedures to clarify how and when to share information on criminal charges against permanent residents and foreign nationals, and should review the optimal timing of the criminal clearance process.
Recommendation. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and the Canada Border Services Agency should improve information sharing to ensure that individuals linked to fraud investigations are subject to additional review to confirm their eligibility for citizenship.
Recommendation. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada should develop a systematic, evidence-based approach to identifying the risks of fraud, including establishing a baseline and monitoring trends, as required by its Program Integrity Framework.
Recommendation. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada should document its rationale for selecting risk indicators for residency fraud, and ensure that these indicators are checked consistently and are effective at detecting and preventing fraud.
Recommendation. To ensure continuous improvement in its efforts to detect and prevent fraud, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada should monitor its fraud controls to ensure they are applied appropriately and are achieving the intended results. The Department should examine the results of its continuous improvement processes regularly and make any needed adjustments to its fraud controls.
Entity Responses to Recommendations
The audited entities agree with our recommendations, and have responded (see List of Recommendations).
|Report of the||Auditor General of Canada|
|Type of product||Performance audit|
|Completion date||29 January 2016|
|Tabling date||3 May 2016|
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