On June 19, 2017, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced amendments to Canada’s Citizenship Act, also known as Bill C-6, received Royal Assent. The amendments contained in Bill C-6 were made to reflect the Government of Canada’s efforts to simplify the process for foreign nationals who want to obtain Canadian citizenship. As part of the new changes, some elements of Bill C-6 will go into effect right away upon Royal Assent, whereas other amendments will take effect later this year. Future changes to the Citizenship Act are to ensure that adequate preparations are made within IRCC departments in order to facilitate the smooth transition of new citizenship regulations for applicants.
Prior to the amendments of Bill C-6, maintaining Canadian citizenship required the individual to intend to live in Canada once citizenship was granted. As of Monday, the amendments in Bill C-6 have removed this provision, which grants more flexibility for new citizens who wish to reside or work outside of Canada.
Additional changes to the Citizenship Act include the immediate repeal of revoking citizenship of those who hold dual citizenship and have been convicted of a “crime against the national interest of Canada.” Under this provision, Canada’s former Citizenship Act allowed the revocation of citizenship for dual citizens engaged in crimes against the national interest, which included convictions of treason, spying, and terrorist acts. The right of Canadian citizenship could also be revoked based upon the individual’s sentencing, or if the individual was a member of a military force or group in conflict with Canada. Under the new Act, individuals who hold dual citizenship and are convicted of these crimes will now be held to the same standards of all Canadian citizens and prosecuted through Canada’s judicial system.
Changes that will go into effect at later dates will allow greater flexibility for young and elderly immigrants who wish to obtain Canadian citizenship. Some of these changes include reducing physical residency requirements for citizenship eligibility of permanent residents in Canada from 4 out of 6 years to 3 out of 5 years. In short, permanent residents must now only be present in Canada for 3 out of 5 years prior to submitting their application for Canadian citizenship. Added changes will also allow a portion of the time an individual spends in Canada as a temporary resident or protected person to fulfill physical residency requirements for obtaining citizenship, as well as making amendments to the age bracket for meeting Canadian citizenship language and knowledge requirements. The age bracket will change later this year from 14-64 years of age to persons aged 18-54.
Other changes enacted by Bill C-6 will come into effect in 2018, which will allow Canada’s Federal Court to make decisions on the majority of cases for revoking of an individual’s Canadian citizenship. This amendment to the Citizenship Act was introduced to both reinforce federal processes and guarantee procedural fairness in matters involving citizenship revocation.
To view a complete list of immediate and future amendments to Canada’s Citizenship Act, please refer to the Government of Canada’s official website.
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