In June 19, 2017, Bill C-6, an Act to amend the Citizenship Act and make consequential amendments to another Act, received Royal Assent. Some of the changes to the Citizenship Act which took effect immediately upon Royal Assent reflect the Government’s commitments to streamline the citizenship process, enhance program integrity and repeal certain provisions of the Act that treated dual citizens differently than other Canadians.
As declared, the other changes are expected to be implemented in fall, thus, it was announced that it will come into effect on October 11, 2017.
The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship:
“One of the strongest pillars for successful integration into Canadian life is achieving Canadian citizenship and becoming part of the Canadian family. The Government encourages all immigrants to take the path towards citizenship and take advantage of everything that being a Canadian has to offer.”
In summary, the changes that took effect in June include repealing of the ability to revoke citizenship from dual citizens convicted of crimes against the national interest; no longer requiring applicants to intend to continue to reside in Canada once granted citizenship; and making it easier for minors to apply for citizenship without a Canadian or permanent resident parent.
This fall, the changes to be implemented include giving more flexibility to both younger and older eligible immigrants to obtain citizenship and reducing the time permanent residents must be physically present in Canada.
While other changes which are expected to take effect in 2018 include strengthening the citizenship revocation process by having the Federal Court as the decision-maker on most cases and giving clear authority under the Citizenship Act for citizenship officers to seize fraudulent or suspected fraudulent documents.
The following are the changes that have been made to the Citizenship Act and indicates when these changes are enforced.
Changes that took effect immediately upon Royal Assent on June 19, 2017:
- The Citizenship act that citizenship could be revoked from dual citizens convicted of treason, spying and terrorism offences, depending on the sentence received, or who were a part of an armed force of a country or organized group engaged in conflict with Canada was repealed. Dual citizens living in Canada who are convicted of these crimes will face the Canadian justice system, like other Canadian citizens who break the law.
- The Citizenship act that applicants were required to intend to continue to live in Canada if granted citizenship was repealed. Applicants are no longer required to intend to continue to live in Canada once granted citizenship. This removes concerns from new Canadians who may need to live outside of Canada for work or personal reasons.
- It is now easier for minors to apply for citizenship without a Canadian parent, as the age requirement for citizenship has been removed under subsection 5(1). A person having custody of the minor or empowered to act on their behalf by court order, written agreement or operation of law, can now apply for citizenship on behalf of the minor, unless that requirement is waived by the Minister.
- The Minister has the discretion to grant citizenship to a person to alleviate cases of special and unusual hardship, or to reward services of an exceptional value to Canada. Statelessness has been added as a ground that can be considered for a discretionary grant of citizenship.
- The requirement to take into consideration reasonable measures to accommodate the needs of a citizenship applicant who is a disabled person is now included in the Citizenship Act.
- The requirement for applicants to maintain the requirements for citizenship from the time they apply for citizenship until taking the Oath of Citizenship now applies to all applications, including those received before June 11, 2015.
Changes to take effect as of October 11, 2017:
- Applicants had to be physically present in Canada for four out of six years before applying for citizenship will be changed to three out of five years.
- Applicants had to file Canadian income taxes, if required to do so under the Income Tax Act, for four out of six years, matching the physical presence requirement will also be changed to three out of five years.
- Applicants no longer have to meet the requirement that applicants had to be physically present in Canada for 183 days in four out of the six years preceding their application is repealed.
- Applicants may count each day they were physically present in Canada as a temporary resident or protected person, before becoming a permanent resident, as a half-day toward meeting the physical presence requirement for citizenship, up to a maximum credit of 365 days, within five years preceding the date of application.
- The Citizenship Act that applicants between 14 and 64 years had to meet the language and knowledge requirements for citizenship, the age requirement will be changed, it will now be between 18 and 54 years.
Changes expected to take effect in 2018:
- The Federal Court is the decision-maker in all revocation cases, unless the individual requests that the Minister make the decision.
- There is now a clear authority for citizenship officers to seize fraudulent or suspected fraudulent documents is provided under the Citizenship Act
Government of Canada implements new legislative changes to the Citizenship Act, retrieved October 4, 2017
Changes to the Citizenship Act as a Result of Bill C-6, retrieved October 4, 2017
Citizenship Bill Receives Royal Assent, retrieved October 4, 2017