New Citizenship Act of Canada finally came into force on June 19, 2017. Bill C-6, an Act to amend the existing Citizenship Act, brought about significant changes to the way citizenship applications are processed by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). It is important to note that some changes will take effect immediately, while others will take effect in several months, approximately in October 2017. As a result, IRCC will start receiving new citizenship applications only by fall of this year. Below is a summary of the most important changes to the Act.
Intent to reside in Canada after the grant of citizenship has been removed. You are no longer required to continue to be physically present in Canada after you become a Canadian citizen; you will be allowed to live anywhere in the world. This new provision applies not only to future applications, but also to the applications submitted earlier.
The previous provision that dual nationals can have citizenship revoked on “national interest” grounds has been removed. These types of cases will be dealt with under the Canadian justice system.
Under the previous Act, time spent in Canada under a conditional criminal sentence (conviction) counted towards physical presence and the persons under conditional sentence were allowed to take a citizenship oath. Under the new Act, time spent in Canada under a conditional sentence may not be counted towards physical presence and the persons under conditional sentence are not allowed to take the oath citizenship. The new condition will be applicable to previously submitted applications.
The time permanent residents had to be physically present in Canada before they become eligible to apply for citizenship has been changed from four out of six years to only three out of five years. The requirement to file taxes in 4 out of 6 years has also been amended to 3 out of 5 to match the physical presence condition. It should be noted that these changes will affect new applications only. Additionally, the provision that permanent residents must be physically present in Canada 183 days in every year has also been removed.
The age range for applicants who are required to take the English or French language test and to pass the knowledge exam has been amended from 14-64 years to the range of 18-54 years. Citizenship and Immigration Canada indicated that this provision will also be applicable to applications in process.
Under the new Act, permanent residents who resided in Canada as temporary residents before landing, e.g. as international students, temporary foreign workers, or protected persons, may count their pre-landing time towards their physical presence requirements, up to a maximum of 1 year. 2 days of pre-landing time counts as 1 day. For example, if you were an international student in Canada for 2 or 3 years before you became a permanent resident, you may add that time as 1 year of residence in your citizenship application.
At the time of this publication, the following changes are also being considered to the Citizenship Regulations:
- Clarification as to who has the right to sign a citizenship application on behalf of a minor.
- Revising the requirement of physical presence in Canada to three out of five years.
- Revising the requirement to file income tax returns in three out of five years.
- Removing the requirement that individuals must be physically present in Canada for a minimum of 183 days in four out of six years before submitting their application.
- Revising the age for language and knowledge tests to 18-54 years.