In an official news release coming out of Ottawa on June 5th, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) announced that a “final suite” of Canada’s Citizenship Act changes would be put into force as of June 11 2015, in what the government is calling a move to “strengthen and modernize Canada’s citizenship laws [and ensure] new citizens can fully and quickly participate in Canada’s economy and […] society.” These changes, in addition to those already brought into effect in August 2014 and more recently on May 28 2015, are also aimed at strengthening citizenship and speeding up application times.
The government has stated that these newest changes are intended to deter “citizens of convenience” – individuals who are interested in becoming Canadian so that they have a Canadian passport and can access Canadian taxpayer benefits, but who don’t have much or any interest at all in attaching or contributing to Canadian economy and society – but definitely, the changes will affect all individuals interested in attaining Canadian citizenship.
Some of the most important changes coming into effect as of June 11 2015 to be aware of are:
- Canadian Permanent Residents over age 18 must have been physically present in Canada for 4 years (at least 1460 days) during the 6 years before you apply. During these 4 years, you must have been physically present in Canada for at least 183 days per year (at least 183 days out of 365). Only time spent in Canada as a Permanent Resident will count towards the calculation of days.
- Tip: If you are in the process of accumulating residency time towards applying for citizenship, keep track of your travels in your calendar and save your airplane tickets to and from Canada – it will help you calculate your time spent in and out of the country when required!
- All applicants between the ages of 14 to 64 will need to meet certain requirements for speaking either one of Canada’s official languages (English or French), and will need to write a knowledge exam about Canada.
- Adult Permanent Residents will need to meet personal income tax obligations and file Canadian income taxes to be eligible for citizenship, and will need to declare their intent to continue to live in Canada after gaining their citizenship.
- There will be stronger penalties for fraud and misrepresentation – providing false or dishonest information on purpose to try to produce a positive outcome for the application – to a maximum fine of $100,000 and/or up to five years in prison.
- “Lost Canadians” – Canadians born before the Citizenship Act of 1947 was passed – will be extended Canadian citizenship, as will their first generation children who may have been born outside of Canada.
- Second generation children of Canadians, who are outside of the country serving the government, will be extended citizenship rights.
- Those who have committed crimes abroad, together with anyone who has domestic criminal charges and convictions, can be barred from applying for citizenship.
- Citizenship will be denied to any permanent residents who have served as members of an armed force of a country or an organized armed group engaged in armed conflict
Need more information about these new changes, contact us.