Canada: Certain Changes to the Citizenship Act Take Effect; Other Changes Forthcoming
Bill C-6 which introduces changes to Canada's Citizenship Act received Royal Assent on June 19, 2017. Amendments to the Citizenship Act will allow permanent residents of Canada to apply for citizenship sooner and with fewer restrictions. Of note is the modification of the residency calculation to include a portion of time spent in Canada prior to the grant of Permanent Residence towards the physical residency requirement. Other changes are expected to take effect in the Fall of 2017 and early 2018.
Following the Government's commitments in both its election platform and the Prime Minister's mandate letter to the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship to make changes to the Citizenship Act, Bill C-6 received the Royal Assent on June 19, 2017, the final step before the bill may become law.
Changes to the Citizenship Act
Bill C-6 will implement the following changes immediately:
- Remove the "intent to reside" provision, which previously required new citizens to state they intended to reside in Canada;
- Permit children under the age of 18 to apply for citizenship without the support or consent of their parents;
- Remove the government's ability to revoke citizenship from naturalized citizens who hold dual citizenship on national security grounds;
- Prevent individuals serving a conditional sentence from being granted citizenship, taking the Oath of Citizenship or from being able to count this time towards meeting the physical presence requirements for citizenship;
- Addition of statelessness as a stand-alone ground that can be considered for a discretionary grant of citizenship;
- Requirement to take into consideration reasonable measures to accommodate the needs of a citizenship applicant who is a disabled person; and
- Requirement for all applicants, regardless of when the application was received, to maintain the requirements for citizenship from the time they apply for citizenship until taking the Oath of Citizenship.
The following changes are expected to take effect in the Fall of 2017:
- Reduce the time permanent residents must be physically present in Canada before qualifying for citizenship from four out of six years (1,460 days) to three out of five years (1,095 days) - income tax document requirements will also need to match the new physical presence requirement;
- Allow time spent in Canada as a temporary resident (up to 365 days) prior to becoming a permanent resident to be counted toward the new three-year physical presence requirement - applicants may count each day as a half-day towards meeting the physical presence requirement; and
- Applicants between 18 and 54 years only (currently, it is between 14 and 64 years) will be required to meet the language and knowledge requirements for citizenship.
The following changes are expected to take effect in early 2018:
- Individuals who lost their citizenship on the grounds that it was obtained fraudulently will be granted the right to appeal the decision in Federal Court; and
- Permission for Citizenship Officers under the Citizenship Act to seize fraudulent or suspected fraudulent documents.
What This Means for Foreign Nationals
Temporary foreign workers and students who intend to apply for Permanent Residency may become eligible for citizenship up to a maximum of two years earlier than they are currently eligible to apply. They will also receive credit for their time spent in Canada as temporary residents.
Fragomen is monitoring the situation and will provide further updates as they become available. This alert is for informational purposes only.
If you have any questions, please contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.