New Bill on Canadian Citizenship Makes Citizenship Applications Easier

March 3, 2016

By Mary Zhang, Law Office of Jeff J. Li

Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) , John McCallum outlined proposed changes to Citizenship Act today aiming to repeal the old controversial Bill C-24. If the new bill passed, the following would take place:

  • Terrorism or other crimes against the national interest would not be used as grounds for revoking citizenship from dual nationals.
  • Instead of living in Canada for four out of the last six years in order to apply for citizenship, permanent residents would be eligible to apply if they physically present in Canada for three out of five years before their application date.
  • The time already spent before permanent residency would be counted towards the residency requirement.
  • Applicants would no longer need to be physically present for 183 days in Canada during each of the calendar years immediately before applying for citizenship.
  • The age requirement to pass language and knowledge tests before qualifying for citizenship would be restored to the previous one of 18 to 54. The current age requirement is 14 to 64.
  • New naturalized citizens would not be required to declare that they intend to continue residing in Canada.

What will remain unchanged is that the Canadian citizenship can still be removed from those who have obtained it via fraudulent means or misrepresentation. However, the new bill will bar people who are serving conditional sentences from seeking citizenship.

What will also remain unchanged is that the citizenship application fees will still be $530 for each adult applicant.

The old bill was attacked as setting a dangerous precedent such as creating two tiers of citizens, violating charter rights or even unconstitutional.  I agree with the principle of the proposed changes here, however, when it comes to revoke the citizenship based on misrepresentation vs. crimes against the national interests, I will have to agree with what the former immigration minister Chris Alexander said, “Terrorism, espionage and treason are serious crimes, representing gross acts of disloyalty. They are far more serious violations than covering up minor crimes from one’s past – a common form of misrepresentation”.  It does not seem that logical to me that a person with far more serious crimes will be protected under the Citizenship Act while a person with less serious crime will be stripped of the citizenship.


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