Proposed Changes to Canadian Citizenship

By Author: Admin | February 7, 2014

Sweeping changes to Canada citizenship act were proposed by the government today. The highlights are as follows:

  • The fee to Lodge an application for citizenship will be increased from $200-$400;
  • The requirement to have a minimum of three years out of a period of four will be increased to 4/6 years of physical presence in Canada. In addition, you must reside in Canada for 6 months out of the year for 4 of those years;
  • You must declare an intent to reside in Canada (this is ambiguous – a recent Globe and Mail article says it is ceremonial, but in my view citizenship officers are going to use family history to determine if the person really intends to live in Canada; for example be observing if close family members have a pattern of obtaining Canadian citizenship and immediately leaving Canada for other places such as the Persian Gulf or the People’s Republic of China may be a fact by which intention is determined;
  • Decisions will no longer be made by a citizenship judge rather a “citizenship officer”;
  • You have to have 4 notices of assessments to apply;
  • Penalties for misrepresentation have dramatically increased – up to $100k and 5 years in prison – an admission by the Government that revocation of citizenship isn’t possible in all cases
  • Everyone has to do a language test between the ages of 14-64. You don’t get an interpreter for the knowledge test anymore;
  • Soldiers can apply faster;
  • Minister has more power;
  • There are rules for Immigration Consultants (putting the citizenship act in line with the requirements for licenced consultants as per the Immigration Refugee Protection Act;
  • Dual citizen terrorists can have their citizenship revoked;
  • It also appears that the right of an appeal to the federal court would be restricted by the imposition of an application for leave to seek federal court. This is essentially restricting the ability to have judicial review of a negative citizenship decision;
  • There is a question about whether the proposed law would be applied retroactively. It is likely that there will be transitional provisions to ensure that existing applications for citizenship wouldn’t be caught under the new law, but rather would be permitted to be processed under the law of existing at the time in which those cases were filed.

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