Proposed Changes to Canadian Citizenship
The Liberal government has been focusing their legislative efforts on improving the existing Citizenship Act in order to allow immigrants to apply for Canadian Citizenship earlier and easier than the procedure currently in place. The goal, according to the chair of the House Immigration Committee, MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj, is for the bill known as C-6 is passed into law by Canada day of this year.
Some of the proposed amendments to the current act include the reduction of the residency obligation for a permanent resident to apply for Canadian Citizenship from four out of six years to three out of five years. It would also consider the time spent by an individual on temporary status in Canada to count towards the time required to apply for Canadian Citizenship. One of the highlights of C-6 is to remove the current provision that allows the citizenship of a dual Canadian Citizen to be revoked if they are convicted of treason, espionage or terrorism.
Here is a list of the proposed changes
Repeal of revocation provision
Current Rules – Authority to revoke Canadian citizenship for certain acts against the national interest of Canada. These grounds include convictions of terrorism, high treason, treason or spying offences.
Proposed changes – Repeal national interest grounds for revocation.
Repeal of intention to reside provision
Current Rules – In order to be granted Canadian Citizenship, applicants must have the intent of residing in Canada.
Repeal intent to reside provision.
Physical presence in Canada
Current Rules – In order to apply for Canadian Citizenship, an applicant needs to physically be present in Canada for four out of six years before the date of application.
Proposed amendment – Physical presence for three out of five years before the date of application
Counting temporary status
Current Rules- An applicant cannot count the time they spent in Canada on temporary status in the Citizenship application.
Proposed amendment – Applicants will be able to count each day they were physically present in Canada as a protected person or temporary resident prior to becoming a permanent resident as a half-day toward meeting the physical presence requirement for citizenship, up to a maximum of one year of credited time.
Less burdensome annual physical presence requirement
Current Rules- An applicant must be physically present in Canada for a minimum of 183 days in 4 of the last 6 years.
Proposed amendment – Repeal the minimum 183 days physical presence in 4 of the last
Fewer people need to prove language proficiency
Current Rules – Applicants aged 14-64 are required to meet the language requirements and pass a knowledge test.
Proposed amendment – Applicants aged 18-54 must meet language requirements and pass the knowledge test.
Canadian income taxes
Current Rules An applicant is required to file Canadian income taxes, if required to do so under the Income Tax Act, for four taxation years out of six years.
Proposed amendment – An applicant should file Canadian income taxes, if required to do so under the Income Tax Act, for three taxation years out of five years.
Conditional sentence now a bar
Current Rules – An applicant can count the time spent by them serving a conditional sentence order towards meeting physical presence requirements. Convicted applicants who are serving conditional sentence orders are not prohibited from being granted citizenship or taking the oath of citizenship.
Proposed amendment – An applicant cannot count the time spent under a conditional sentence order towards meeting the physical presence requirements; nor can those serving a conditional sentence order be granted citizenship or allowed to take the oath of citizenship.
Canadian citizenship oath
Current Rulest – There exists a provision prohibiting applicants from taking the oath of citizenship if they never met or no longer meet the requirements for the grant of citizenship. However, this does not apply to any applications that were received before June 11, 2015.
Proposed amendment – The existing provision will also apply to applications still in process that were received prior to June 11, 2015.
New provision to counter fraud
Current Rules – There exists no explicit authority for citizenship officers to seize fraudulent documents related to the processing of applications.
Proposed amendment – Citizenship officers will have the authority to seize documents provided if there are reasonable grounds to believe they are fraudulent, or being used We don’t know whether any or all of these changes will be implemented. We will update you as we learn more.
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Subuhi Siddiqui is a Lead Canadian Immigration Lawyer at Niren & Associates. She has worked on all types of immigration application, and regularly attends the IAD and Federal Court to represent her clients. She currently heads the Permanent Residence Department at the firm.
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