The Canadian government says it is investigating 6,500 people from over 100 countries who have attempted to gain citizenship or permanent resident status illegally.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says Canadians won't tolerate cheats.

"Canadian citizenship is not for sale," Kenney said at a news conference in Montreal Friday.

"Canadians are generous people, but have no tolerance or patience for people who don't play by the rules and who lie or cheat to become a Canadian citizen.

"The government will apply the full strength of Canadian law to those who have obtained citizenship fraudulently."

Kenney said the Immigration department is looking at revoking the citizenship of more than 2,100 people who gained it illegally.

The department is also looking at another 4,400 people with permanent resident status who are implicated in gaining that status fraudulently.

To gain permanent resident status, they must be physically in Canada for two out of five years.

"I encourage anyone who has information regarding citizenship fraud to call our tip line to report it," Kenney said.

According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, a family of five might pay more than $25,000 over four years to maintain the illusion of their residence in Canada.

In July, Kenney said his department was beginning the process of revoking citizenship of 1,800 individuals. That number is now upwards of 2,100.

The move came after a length investigation by police and immigration officials.

Since 1867, Canada has only revoked the citizenship status of 66 people.

Immigration lawyers say even a simple citizenship application can take a year to process and suggested the crackdown needed to be supplemented with pragmatism.

"I think it's a good thing that the government is signalling that it's going to take this seriously," Joshua Sohn, vice-chair of the Canadian Bar Association's immigration section, told The Canadian Press earlier this year.

"It's a question of balancing that with some pragmatism as well."

With files from The Canadian Press