How Abu Dhabi Residents Use Canada’s Immigration System


The following excerpts from documents written by officials at Citizenship and Immigration Canada provide some disturbing insights into how immigrants from Abu Dhabi use Canada's immigration system. As with many other cases, this example provides a look at the less positive side of Canadian immigration.

Most of the immigrants who have come to Canada from Abu Dhabi are not Abu Dhabi citizens, but foreign workers from countries such as Pakistan, India and the Philippines who have travelled to Abu Dhabi for employment.

Abu Dhabi is one of the seven Arab Emirates, all of which are located on the Arabian Peninsula just east of Saudi Arabia. The word “emirate” comes from the word “emir”, a prince or military leader. An “emirate” is the territory he governs. Since 2001, an average of over 4000 Arab Emirate immigrants per year have been granted permanent residence status in Canada.

Other immigrant-receiving countries which take immigrants from Abu Dhabi and the neighbouring Arab Emirates report the same problems that Canadian officials have observed.

Here is a summary of some major points made by Canadian immigration officials: (Original CIC comments are included below.)

(1) Abu Dhabi residents who apply for immigration to Canada do not do so because they think Canada is a better place or because they want to leave Abu Dhabi. They do so because of the additional advantages that they and their families can enjoy by simultaneously maintaining their Gulf residence permits and holding Canadian citizenship. It is another case of the Dual Citizenship Issue. Getting Permanent Resident or Citizenship status in Canada is a matter of what Canada can do for them, not the other way around.

(2) A very active immigration industry exists in Abu Dhabi. Consultants from Canada and Abu Dhabi work hard to obtain maximum Canadian benefits (driver's licences; SIN, Health and Bank cards) for their Abu Dhabi clients while minimizing the benefits that Abu Dhabi immigrants will provide to Canada. Fraud involving sponsorship of relatives is common. In this fraud, Abu Dhabi immigrants, who are interested in sponsoring family members, pretend to live in Canada but actually do their sponsoring in Abu Dhabi. This is a violation of Canadian immigration law.

(3) Other fraud has been uncovered. Tax fraud is common. Another fraud (also involving the pretence of living in Canada) is collecting Canadian unemployment insurance and Canadian GST refunds while living in Abu Dhabi.

(4) Many Abu Dhabi residents have applied for immigration to Canada in order to provide a university education for their children. Immigrants receive the obvious major benefit of reduced tuition costs because their children are considered as Canadian residents. They also receive the same hidden subsidy to real student tuition costs (many thousands of dollars) that other Canadians contribute to in their taxes, but which Abu Dhabi immigrants probably subsidize only minimally. After graduation, many students return to Abu Dhabi to work, minimizing the benefit to Canada of educating these students in Canadian universities.

(5) Many Abu Dhabi Residents who have successfully applied for immigrant status in Canada, have used their Canadian permanent residence status in order to be paid more in Abu Dhabi. It is common for people in Abu Dhabi to seek immigration status in a western country solely for this purpose.

(6) Abu Dhabi residents who have obtained citizenship in Canada may return to Canada for retirement after having made a minimal economic contribution to Canada. At such time, they will expect to receive the same health care benefits and other social services that are available in Canada to long-term residents who have paid into the Canadian tax system for most of their lives. No retirement plan exists in Abu Dhabi and the medical services available there are of poor quality and expensive. Both of these factors encourage retired workers to leave.

(7) An estimated 200-400 pregnant women from Abu Dhabi and other United Arab Emirate states make applications for tourist visas to Canada. The applications are almost always approved. The women travel to Canada, but hide the fact that they are pregnant and that the sole purpose of their trip is to give birth in Canada. When their babies are born in Canada, the babies are granted Canadian citizenship. In later years, the grown children will have the option of living in Canada and of sponsoring relatives (who may live in Abu Dhabi or other places) to come to Canada.

The information above has been extracted from the original CIC comments below. The latter has been obtained from Lexbase, a publication assembled by Canadian immigration lawyer Richard Kurland. The information was obtained by Mr. Kurland from Citizenship and Immigration Canada under the Freedom of Information Act.



(a) Except for a few professions, (Abu Dhabi) immigrants simply cannot earn as much (in Canada), pay as little for employees or maintain household domestic staff for their home…as they can in the Gulf. Many applicants do not really want to leave the Gulf as long as they can maintain their Gulf residence permit. Although the Gulf region could be viewed as an attractive pool of English-speaking well-educated, business and skilled worker applicants, the appearance is deceiving.

(b) The high application rate is related to what Canada can do for them, not the other way around.

(c) Obtaining a western citizenship while living in the Gulf is big business and most like minded missions report the same problems. Some of our PRTD (Permanent Resident Temporary Document) clients indicated they bought a settlement package from consultants which assists them to land in Canada, apply for drivers license, SIN, health and bank cards and return to the region with a minimum absence from their Gulf job.

(d) Local lore is full of stories of Canadians who never lived in Canada…. The transfer of the family class processing to the Gulf has led to greater rates of uncovering of sponsors who are actually residing in the Gulf while pretending to be in Canada. A year-long survey done last year showed over 98% surveyed were planning to land in Canada and come right back to the Gulf.

(e) Tax fraud in the form of benefits received amounting to about $75,000 for 52 applicants have been uncovered and reported with an estimate calculated of over half a million dollars.

(f) Canadian sponsors have been uncovered who never lived in Canada, are sponsoring as if they are living in Canada and are providing misleading employment letters for Canada and/or receiving benefits in Canada such as UI and GST refunds.

(g) Many immigrants took permanent residence as a means to obtain a subsidized university education for their children while they (the parents) remained abroad, an opportunity for a better passport, a place to go if they cannot stay in the Gulf at retirement, or war breaks out, or simply a western passport in order to increase their current salary levels in the Gulf. A Canadian can be in a higher salary range than a Pakistani, Indian or Filipino for doing the same work. Additionally many PR children also appear to be returning and working in the Gulf upon completion of university studies in Canada, thus minimizing net benefit to Canada.

(h) Local contacts often voice their confusion about why Canada gives citizenship to those who have not lived in Canada. Some companies have complained that their employees who are new PR (Permanent Resident) card holders, submit the PR card and ask for travel benefit cash equivalents to be increased to the ticket prices to Canada, instead of a relatively cheap neighbouring destination. All this may become a bigger issue for Canada if the thousands of Canadians working in the Gulf, many of whom either stayed in Canada the minimum time possible if at all, decide to return to Canada in their later years to utilize social programs. There is no retirement plan for people who worked in the Gulf and the medical facilities are expensive and not up to the Canadian standard.

(i) Non-immigrant Processing: UAE nationals are rarely refused. An estimated 200-400 applications are from women who want to give birth in Canada, none of which had stated the objective transparently, most apply to go as tourists.

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