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.