Liberals reveal the proposed changes to Citizenship Act which is expected to be implemented this year. According to Immigration Minister John McCallum, these changes will provide greater flexibility for applicants trying to meet the requirements for citizenship and help immigrants become full-fledged Canadian citizens.
Here’s an overview of the proposed changes to Citizenship Act:
Repealing the national interest grounds for citizenship revocation
CURRENT: Citizenship can be taken away from dual citizens who commit certain acts against the national interest of Canada. These grounds include convictions of terrorism, high treason, treason or spying offences, depending on the sentence received, or for membership in an armed force or organized armed group engaged in armed conflict with Canada.
PROPOSED: All Canadians who commit crimes should face the consequences of their actions through the Canadian justice system. The ability to revoke citizenship where it was obtained by false representation, by fraud or by knowingly concealing material circumstances will remain in place. The Minister would continue to have authority to revoke citizenship in basic fraud cases, such as identity and residence fraud (which constitute the majority of cases), and the Federal Court would continue to have authority to revoke citizenship in cases where the fraud is in relation to concealing serious inadmissibilities concerning security, human or international rights violations, war crimes, and organized criminality.
Repealing the intent to reside provision
CURRENT: Adult applicants must declare on their citizenship applications that they intend to continue to reside in Canada if granted citizenship. Their citizenship could be revoked in the future if they moved outside of Canada.
PROPOSED: The Government is proposing to repeal this provision. All Canadians are free to move outside Canada. This is a right guaranteed in Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Reducing the length of time someone must be physically present in Canada to qualify for Citizenship
CURRENT: Requires applicants to be physically present in Canada for 4 years (1,460 days) within the 6 years immediately before applying for citizenship.
Under the Citizenship Act, people cannot count the time they spent in Canada before becoming a permanent resident towards meeting the physical presence requirement for citizenship.
PROPOSED: The Government is proposing to reduce the time required to be spent in Canada for citizenship for adults to 3 years (1095 days) within the 5 years before applying for citizenship.
The changes in the new Bill would let non-permanent resident time count toward the new 3-year physical presence requirement for citizenship, for up to 1 year. Under this change, each day that a person is authorized to be in Canada as a temporary resident or protected person before becoming a permanent resident could be counted as a half-day toward meeting the physical presence requirement for citizenship.
Eliminating the 183 days of physical presence requirement
CURRENT: 183 days of physical presence requirement
PROPOSED: Applicants would no longer need to be physically present for 183 days in Canada during each of 4 calendar years that are within the 6 years immediately before applying for citizenship.
Amending the age range for language and knowledge requirements
CURRENT: Age range of applicants who must meet the language and knowledge requirements from those aged 14-64.
PROPOSED: Return to the previous 18-54 age requirement, removing a potential barrier to citizenship for applicants in both the younger and older age groups. Adult applicants aged 18-54 would still be required to provide evidence that they understand English or French and are able to hold a short conversation about common topics, understand simple instructions, and use basic grammar. They are also required to pass a knowledge test on Canada and the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship.
A number of changes to further enhance program integrity are also proposed.
Currently, the Citizenship Act prohibits a person under a probation order, on parole or incarcerated in a penitentiary, jail, reformatory or prison from being granted citizenship or from counting that time towards meeting the physical presence requirements for citizenship. However, the provisions do not include conditional sentences (i.e. sentences served in the community with certain conditions) served in Canada. So currently, an applicant who is sentenced to a conditional sentence order could be granted citizenship or count that time towards meeting the physical presence requirements for citizenship. These amendments would change that. This change would apply to both new applications and those still being processed.
Maintaining requirements for citizenship until Oath taking:
CURRENT: The Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act introduced a rule that would not allow applicants to take the oath of citizenship if they no longer met the requirements for citizenship after the decision was made. Before this change, there was no authority to prevent an applicant in that situation from taking the oath. The time between the decision and taking of the oath is typically 2 to3 months. However, the rule only applies to applications received after June 11, 2015, when the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act came into force, and not to applications received before that date.
PROPOSED: The proposed change would require all applicants to continue to meet the requirements of citizenship until they take the Oath, regardless of when their application was received.
Ability to Seize Documents:
CURRENT: Citizenship officers do not have the authority to seize fraudulent documents.
PROPOSED: Citizenship officers will have the authority to seize fraudulent documents provided during the administration of the Act, including during in-person interviews and hearings.
To know the Status of the Bill C6, click here.