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Canada Federal government stripping Canadian citizenship from Chinese man over alleged marriage fraud

The federal government is taking the relatively rare step of revoking Canadian citizenship from a Chinese man because he allegedly got it through a bogus marriage.

The government is asking the Federal Court of Canada for a declaration that Yan Yang He fraudulently secured citizenship nine years ago.

A statement of claim filed by the citizenship minister accuses Mr. He of concealing that he entered into a marriage of convenience with his former spouse, Lisa Marie Mills, in 2004 after coming to Canada as a student. As a result, the statement says, the man was granted permanent-resident status in 2006 by way of spousal sponsorship, opening the door to Canadian citizenship four years later.

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Ottawa revoked citizenship from 17 people between April 1, 2017, and May 7 of this year, according to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

The move against Mr. He comes amid severely strained relations between Ottawa and Beijing.

China was angered by the arrest late last year of Chinese technology giant Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver after a request from U.S. authorities. Two Canadians have since been charged in China with trying to steal state secrets, a development widely seen as retaliation the technology executive’s arrest.

The Canadian Press’s attempts to contact Mr. He, last said to be living in Toronto, were unsuccessful.

The federal statement of claim says an investigation by the Canada Border Services Agency identified Mr. He as a recipient of the services of Wei Ren, who arranged marriages between Chinese nationals and Canadian citizens for a fee, to help them get permanent-resident status.

In 2011, Ms. Mills confirmed to the border agency that she entered into a marriage of convenience with Mr. He, the claim says. Ms. Mills admitted to receiving $2,500 on the wedding day and $2,500 after Mr. He obtained a divorce from her two years later.

She acknowledged meeting Mr. He on only five occasions and that the pair never lived together – clashing with information Mr. He included in his application for permanent-resident status.

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The government first took steps to revoke Mr. He’s Canadian citizenship in December, 2016. However, the effort was derailed by a 2017 court decision that said an individual about to lose citizenship must be allowed a fair hearing.

Ottawa subsequently passed legislation that spells out new procedures, including an opportunity for the accused person to make written representations to the government.

The federal claim details the various steps taken by the minister last year to contact Mr. He at his last known address about his case and give him a chance to reply.

“The minister is satisfied that Mr. He was previously aware that a revocation proceeding against him had been commenced in 2016 and that all reasonable attempts have been made to notify Mr. He of the minister’s renewed intent to revoke his Canadian citizenship,” the federal claim says.

“Nevertheless, Mr. He has not made any contact with [the department] to ascertain the status of his citizenship revocation proceedings.”

As of Wednesday, He had yet to file his own submission with the court.

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