What You Need to Know About the Changes to Canadian Citizenship Act

Changes to Canadian Citizenship Act

The Canadian Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, John McCallum, says the government of Canada is planning to make some changes to the Canadian Citizenship Act.

Here’s what you need to know.

Reduced Barriers

As McCallum told the CBC, the government is “in general trying to reduce the barriers people have to overcome to become a citizen.” The proposed changes to the Act are clearly in line with Trudeau’s promise to repeal bill C-24. While that step doesn’t appear to be on the table at the moment, several of the alterations to Canadian citizenship that came with it are being reconsidered. One barrier that could change is the language test.

While the government won’t be doing away with the test entirely, they may reduce the upper age range for those required to be proficient in English and/or French from 64 back down to 54.

This change would come about as an acknowledgement of the reality that many older people coming to Canada may not be as proficient in English and/or French as their younger relatives. While immigrants’ parents or grandparents may not be proficient in either language,  families want to stick together, and the younger generations are more likely to have the language skills required.

More Secure Citizenship

Furthermore, while there are no details yet, the CBC reports that the government may also want to make it far more difficult for citizenship to be taken away. Given the contentious decision by the Harper government to give the government the power to “remove Canadian citizenship from people convicted of terrorism, espionage or treason” last year, this news could have a significant impact on both the welcome and sense of security that Canadian immigrants feel.

When Will We Learn More?

McCallum says more news on what changes may be made to the Canadian Citizenship Act will come in the upcoming weeks. We should have a better sense of how the government intends to change the Act–and both new and prospective immigrants’ lives–soon.

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Michael Niren

About Michael Niren

Michael is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section and the Associate Member of the American Bar Association. Read more

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