Changes to Canadian citizenship rules unveiled

by Ray Clancy on May 30, 2014

Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander has unveiled the first comprehensive reforms to the country’s Citizenship Act since 1977.

He said that Bill C-24, the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act, will protect the value of Canadian citizenship for those who have it, while creating a faster and more efficient process for those applying to get it.

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These are the first comprehensive reforms to the country’s Citizenship Act since 1977

The legislation will streamline Canada’s citizenship programme by reducing the decision making process from three steps to one. It is expected that by 2015/2016, this change will bring the average processing time for citizenship applications down to under a year.

It is also projected that by 2015/2016, the current backlog will be reduced by more than 80% and citizenship application fees will be better aligned with the actual cost of processing, relieving the burden on Canadian taxpayers who currently subsidize 80% of the cost.

Alexander said that the government will also ensure citizenship applicants maintain strong ties to Canada. The act will provide a clearer indication regarding the residence period required to qualify for citizenship.

Also, more applicants will now be required to meet language requirements and pass a knowledge test, to ensure that new citizens are better prepared to fully participate in Canadian society.

New provisions will also help individuals with strong ties to Canada, such as by automatically extending citizenship to additional ‘lost Canadians’ who were born before 1947, as well as to their children born in the first generation outside Canada.

The legislation includes stronger penalties for fraud and misrepresentation with a maximum fine of $100,000 and/or five years in prison. It also involves expanding the grounds to bar an application for citizenship to include foreign criminality, which will help improve programme integrity.

The legislation brings Canada in line with most other countries by providing that citizenship can be revoked from dual nationals who are convicted of terrorism, high treason, and spying offences, depending on the sentence received, or who take up arms against Canada. Permanent residents who commit these acts will be barred from applying for citizenship.

As a way of recognizing the important contributions of those who serve Canada in uniform, permanent residents who are members of the Canadian Armed Forces will have quicker access to Canadian citizenship. The act also stipulates that children born to Canadian parents serving abroad as servants of the Crown are able to pass on Canadian citizenship to children they have or adopt outside Canada.

Alexander pointed out that Canada is successful in turning immigrants into citizens. More than 85% of eligible permanent residents in Canada go on to become citizens.

As a result of these amendments, applicants will need to be physically present in Canada for a total of four out of their last six years. In addition, they would need to be physically present in Canada for 183 days per year for at least four of those six years.

‘The government is strengthening the value of Canadian citizenship. Canadians understand that citizenship should not be simply a passport of convenience. Citizenship is a pledge of mutual responsibility and a shared commitment to values rooted in our history. I am pleased to bring forward the first comprehensive and overdue reforms of the Citizenship Act in more than a generation,’ said Alexander.

‘We expect new Canadians to take part in the democratic life, economic potential and the rich cultural traditions that are involved in becoming a citizen. We are proud to introduce changes that reinforce the value of citizenship while ensuring the integrity of the immigration system is protected,’ he added.

 

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

T Gen June 2, 2014 at 6:30 pm

My two cents as someone who works with some excellent talent from around the world. Some of this is good, some bad, some appalling:

– Revoke citizenship (WHATTT?). You adopt a child, the child turns out to have behavioural problems, so you send the child back to an orphanage? But if the child cannot go back to an orphanage, then you’ll keep the child. How about due diligence before adopting Conservatives? Don’t get people in who you think can be terrorists, and have police and intelligence checks and balances.
– One year extra as a permanent resident to become a citizen. Sure. That’s a simple policy change and people should abide.
– Time spent as a student and worker in Canada no longer counting as half credit towards residency. How can you encourage foreign students and global talent while doing this? On the one hand you say you’re trying to do that, then your bill undermines exactly that effort.
– Minister to have absolute say, and federal judges’ powers to decide individual cases to be stripped away. Is this still a democracy or did we just start on a dictatorship agenda? No minister should be allowed to decide without courts’ ability to step in and correct. This is the most unacceptable part of this bill.

If my instincts are correct, some seemingly good things in the bill are a facade to cover up more dictatorial practices. Don’t mistake this for anything other than a bigoted agenda.

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