A range of sweeping amendments has been proposed by the Liberal government of Canada, making life easier for immigrants to obtain Canadian citizenship.
According to CIC News, the proposed amendments to the Citizenship Act will ultimately allow people who decided to immigrate to Canada to apply for and obtain citizenship sooner and more easily. Included in the proposed amendments is the reduction in the amount of time permanent residents have to live in Canada to be eligible for citizenship — from four to six years to three to five years. Also, those who stayed in Canada on temporary status would then be able to count a portion of this time towards the three-year requirement.
With Canadian citizenship, an individual may obtain a Canadian passport, vote in elections, stand for public office, and leave and re-enter Canada freely without being beholden to the residency obligations faced by permanent residents.
- Repeal of revocation provision
Current act: Authority to revoke citizenship for 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 amendment: Repeal national interest grounds for revocation.
- Repeal of intention to reside provision
Current act: Applicants must have the intention to reside in Canada if granted citizenship.
Proposed amendment: Repeal intent to reside provision.
- Physical presence in Canada
Current act: Physical presence for 4 out of 6 years before the date of application.
Proposed amendment: Physical presence for 3 out of 5 years before the date of application.
- Counting temporary status
Current act: Time spent in Canada as a non-permanent resident may not be counted.
Proposed amendment: 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 of one year of credited time.
- Less burdensome annual physical presence requirement
Current act: Minimum of 183 days physical presence in 4 of the last 6 years.
Proposed amendment: Repeal the minimum 183 days physical presence in 4 of the last 6 years.
- Fewer people need to prove language proficiency
Current act: Applicants aged 14-64 must meet language requirements and pass knowledge test.
Proposed amendment: Applicants aged 18-54 must meet language requirements and pass knowledge test.
- Canadian income taxes
Current act: File Canadian income taxes, if required to do so under the Income Tax Act, for four taxation years out of six years, matching physical presence requirement.
Proposed amendment: File Canadian income taxes, if required to do so under the Income Tax Act, for three taxation years out of five years, matching proposed new physical presence requirement.
- Conditional sentence now a bar
Current act: Time spent serving a conditional sentence order can be counted towards meeting physical presence requirements. Convicted individuals who are serving conditional sentence orders (sentences served in the community with certain conditions) are not prohibited from being granted citizenship or taking the oath of citizenship.
Proposed amendment: Time spent under a conditional sentence order cannot be counted towards meeting the physical presence requirements; and those serving a conditional sentence order are prohibited from being granted citizenship or taking the oath of citizenship.
- Canadian citizenship oath
Current act: Provision prohibiting applicants from taking the oath of citizenship if they never met or no longer meet the requirements for the grant of citizenship, but does not apply to applications received before June 11, 2015.
Proposed amendment: Provision prohibiting applicants from taking the oath of citizenship if they never met or no longer meet the requirements for the grant of citizenship also applies to applications still in process that were received prior to June 11, 2015.
- New provision to counter fraud
Current act: No explicit authority for citizenship officers to seize fraudulent documents related to the processing of applications.
Proposed amendment: Authority to seize documents provided during the administration of the Citizenship Act if there are reasonable grounds to believe they are fraudulent, or being used fraudulently.