Changes to the Citizenship Act!
On June 19, 2017, the Liberal government’s citizenship bill (Bill C-6) finally received Royal Assent and thus became law after nearly a year-long legislative process. This is good news for many permanent residents wanting to become Canadian citizens as the new law introduces many changes to the last Conservative government’s controversial citizenship legislation (Bill C-24). For example, next fall, permanent residents will be able to apply for citizenship after living physically in Canada 3 years out of 5 years. Also, those with a temporary status will be able to count a portion of their residence in Canada for the required 3 years.
Some of the measures contained in the legislation became effective right on June 19, 2017, whereas others will come into force later this year or early 2018.
The new law also introduces many imminent changes, like removing the intention to reside in Canada provision. The statelessness also got added to a stand-alone ground being considered for a discretionary grant of citizenship. Minors can also now apply or get granted citizenship without assistance, or despite their parents’ situation. The new legislation also removed revocation of citizenship from Canadians with dual citizenship who have convicted of terrorism, treason or espionage, or acts against the national interest of Canada, as was the case of Zakaria Amara who was stripped of his Canadian citizenship last fall after being part in the 2006 Toronto terrorism arrest.
Other changes which will be effective in fall 2017 or in early 2018: the exemption from language proficiency requirements will be granted for more people as well as the right to a Federal Court hearing for individuals whose citizenship has been revoked based on fraud.
The new law has received appreciation, as the Conservative government’s citizenship legislation (Bill C-24) had been seen as creating first and second-class citizens in Canada.
As tweeted by the Minister of Immigration Mr. Hussein, “Canada’s identity has always been shaped by the significant economic, cultural and social contributions of immigrants. Changes to the Citizenship Act will enhance program integrity while giving more flexibility to eligible applicants to meet the requirements for citizenship so that they can continue building successful lives in Canada”.