Chinese nationals are increasingly using fake visas to enter Canada from Shanghai and the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, reports the Globe and Mail, citing a “confidential” alert issued by the Canadian border security agency.
The newspaper claims Canada’s officials have downplayed the extent of the problem.
“The Canada Border Services Agency [CBSA] declined to say whether these fraudulent visas are being used by spies, criminals, economic migrants or bogus refugees,” notes the Canadian newspaper.
However, a senior Canadian border security official told the Globe and Mail on condition of anonymity that “China’s intelligence agencies are too sophisticated to use forged temporary visas to send spies into Canada.”
“You have people coming in here who want to be under the radar. It could be criminals who want to come in here under an assumed identity. It could be business people who are inadmissible or they have been told they can’t come back to Canada, or people who have been refused a visa so now they are trying to get a bogus visa or refugees,” said the source.
Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa is home to a large Chinese population, including many businessmen.
Chinese nationals are reportedly altering Canadian temporary resident visas (TRV), which are usually issued to tourists, foreign workers, and international students for a period of six months.
“The security features of the TRV are genuine, however, the original personalization has been replaced with fraudulent information,” notes the Canadian border agency in the alert.
“There has been a significant increase in the use of altered” temporary visas originating from Shanghai and Addis Ababa, reveals the alleged alert, adding that some of the people carrying these documents have “been intercepted abroad and/or arrived undocumented in Canada.”
Canada’s Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale confirmed to the Globe and Mail that there has been a significant rise in Chinese nationals who have been apprehended using altered Canadian visas to gain entry into Canada.
“Whoever the traveler may be, it is important that border officers be alert to the risks and the dangers,” declared Goodale. “I can’t comment on any specific situation but I can say that our officials are alert to the risk and they are very, very assiduous at detecting illegitimacy and making sure that our system maintains its integrity.”
Like many other countries, Canada subjects individuals to criminal, security, and medical background checks prior to issuing them a visa.
The report of altered visa use comes after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced plans to boost the number of Chinese visitors.
Last fall, the Canadian leader revealed that Ottawa will open seven additional visa processing facilities in China.
“Canada and China have also agreed to make 2018 the Year of Canada–China Tourism. Both countries are exploring future measures to facilitate the travel flow of tourists and are working on tourism promotion activities in Canada and China,” said Bardish Chagger, Canadian minister of small business and tourism, in a statement issued in September 2016.
“An agreement was reached that will authorize Canada to open seven additional visa application centres in China to help serve a growing number of Chinese tourists who are crossing the Pacific to explore Canada,” she added. “As of this summer, Chinese travellers will be able to fly to Canada from 11 cities in China, so there is a need for the visa application centres.”