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IMMIGRATION LAW NEWS

Changes to Citizenship Applications for Canada

The changes to Canada’s Citizenship Act include substantive and procedural amendments.

From a procedural standpoint, one of the central changes is that the citizenship applications are now processed in one step. Citizenship application is now reviewed and decided on by a single citizenship officer. Previously, it was reviewed by 1 citizenship officer, 2 citizenship judges, and then 3 citizenship officers.

The fee for adult grant and resumption applications will increase from $300 to $530. Applications for a grant and resumptions of citizenship to a minor are exempt from this change. The $100 Right of Citizenship fee for successful applicants remains the same. Other fees for services, such as for citizenship proofs, are not changing.

Residency requirements for Canadian Citizenship Applications

According to the former Citizenship Act, applicants had to have resided in Canada for three out of four years (1,095 out of 1,460 days), yet ‘residence’ was not defined. The new rules require applicants to be physically present for four years (1,460 days) in a six-year period, and require applicants to be physically present in Canada for at least 183 days per year in four of the six years.

Under former rules, each day that applicants spent in Canada before they became PRs counts as a half day of residence toward fulfilling their residency requirement for citizenship. Under the new measures, time spent in Canada as a non-PR no longer meets citizenship residency requirements.

Lastly, to be eligible for Canadian citizenship, Applicants must file Canadian income tax.

Language and knowledge requirements for Canadian citizenship

The new changes expand the age group from 18–54 to 14–64 for citizenship applicants required to demonstrate language proficiency and take English and/or French knowledge test. Language and/or knowledge requirements may be waived on compassionate grounds and on a case-by-case basis.

Some of the more controversial changes to the Citizenship Act:

Under the new rules, the minister of immigration can revoke citizenship in “routine cases.” Where security, human or international rights are concerned, the government will leave it to the federal court to decide. This is a departure from previous rules, whereby only The Governor in Council (GIC) makes the final decision about whether to revoke citizenship.

Dual citizens and permanent residents can have their citizenship revoked if found to have taken up arms with groups engaged in armed conflict against Canada or if they are convicted of terrorism, high treason, treason, or spying offences.

Canadian citizenship can also be denied to anyone with domestic or foreign criminal charges against them – whether or not those charges have been proven or not.

The new citizenship rules impose a significantly higher evidentiary and financial burden on the prospective applicants, making the citizenship application process far more complex and fraught with hidden dangers and challenges. Consider consulting with a Canadian citizenship lawyer to reduce the errors and increase the changes of success in your citizenship process.

TAGS: applications, Canadian, citizen, citizenship, immigration


Parent and Grandparent Sponsorship to Canada

The government claims that the backlog in this type of family reunification application has already been reduced by nearly 54 percent, despite no visible decrease in processing times. The central premise of the new program appears to be to shift applicants from PR sponsorship to Parent and Grandparent Super Visa. Keep in mind that all PGP applications received before January 2, 2015, will not be accepted by the CIC. If you sent them out, they will likely be returned to you for re-submission. There will be a rush to submit new applications since maximum of 5,000 new, complete applications will be accepted in 2015.

To be eligible to sponsor a parent or a grandparent, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Be a Canadian citizen or Permanent Resident;
  • Be 18 years of age or older;
  • Exceed the minimum necessary income level for this program by submitting notices of assessment issued by the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) in support of their sponsorship. Sponsors must also demonstrate they have met the minimum necessary income level for three consecutive years. If married or in a common-law relationship, the income of both persons can be included;
  • The sponsor must sign an undertaking to repay any provincial social assistance benefits paid to the sponsor and accompanying family member(s), if any, for a period of 20 years, if necessary. If the sponsor resides in Quebec, an additional ‘undertaking’ must be signed.

The CPC-M accepts applications received by mail, from local couriers and major courier services only. CPC-M is not open to the public and no in-person deliveries are accepted.

TAGS: grandparent sponsorship, immigration, Parent sponsorship


Work Permits for PR Applicants

It has been busy at the office, eight open work permits in 2 days under the new pilots for Spouses and Common Law Partners in Canada – not bad. Hoping for many more in the coming weeks.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada has announced on December 22, 2104 a One Year Pilot, which will allow for the Issuance of OPEN WORK PERMITS to spouse or common-law partner in Canada class (SCLPC) EVEN BEFORE before the approval in principle decision is made. Until now, the only way to obtain the open work permit under this class was to wait for the first stage approval, which currently takes almost 15 months on average! This is how the program will work (from the information that is currently available):

1) EXISTING applicants who have already submitted an application for permanent residence under the SCLPC class before Dec. 22, 2014 will likely not have to wait for the first stage approval. Their work permits could be processed within a matter of weeks (probably February 2015).
2) New Applicants, who submit their open work permit request after December 22, 2014 could see their applications processed within four months.
HOW TO DO IT

If you had not initially included a work permit application with your PR application, you will need to complete an Application to Change Conditions, Extend my Stay or Remain in Canada as a Worker (PDF, KB) (PDF, 452.86 KB) form [IMM 5710], include the appropriate fee, indicating that you are applying for an open work permit, and submit it to the Case Processing Centre in Vegreville, at the following address:
CPC – Vegreville
WP – Unit 777
6212-55 Avenue
Vegreville, AB
T9C 1X6

If an SCLPC applicant has already received approval in principle, they have the option of applying for an open work permit online.
This Pilot also means that the applicants would receive provincial health coverage while awaiting permanent residency. If you need more information or require help with this process, you can find my contact information at

WHO CAN BENEFIT AND WHO CANNOT

Spouses and common-law partners of Canadian citizens and PRs who have who have submitted an application for permanent residence under the spouse or common-law partner in Canada (SCLPC) class are generally eligible to benefit from this new Pilot Project – with one exception, discussed below.

According to the CIC, the immigration officers will issue open work permits to SCLPC applicants if they meet the following requirements:

1) A PR application has been submitted under the SCLPC class;
2) A Canadian citizen or permanent resident spouse has submitted a sponsorship application on their behalf;
3) The SCLPC applicant resides at the same address as the sponsor; and
4) The SCLPC applicant has VALID temporary resident status (as a visitor, student or worker).

I draw your attention to the forth point. If a sponsored spouse is OUT OF STATUS, it seems that they will not be able to benefit from this new provision and will likely have to wait until the first stage processing has been completed to apply / receive their open work permit. This is a little bit of a let down, but the applicants need to manage their expectations.

VALIDITY

These open work permits will be valid for two years or until the date the SCLPC applicant’s passport expires, whichever is earliest. Call us – our spouse sponsorship lawyer can help.

TAGS: canada, CIC, immigration, lawyer, open, permits, sponsorship, Spouse, toronto, visas, work


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