By the time subscribers read this article the laws pertaining to Canadian Citizenship will have changed. While the Canadian government has hinted long ago of changes to key components of Canadian Citizenship eligibility, the exact time of implementation was unknown. The timing of the changes was crucial for many as new rules will no doubt leave many permanent residents in the dark. As well, those who were turning 55 years of age were hoping the delay would take longer but again, the new regulations will leave many disappointed. Current Canadian citizens will also be breathing a sigh of relief as the new rules have imposed an added “intention” element for those who are already Canadian Citizens – this is unprecedented. It will be interesting to see if the courts will see any of the rules as unconstitutional but for now the new laws are official. The strict rule regime, according to Canada Immigration, “will deter citizens of convenience – those who become citizens for the sake of having a Canadian passport to return to Canada to access taxpayer-funded benefits that come with citizenship status, without having any attachment to Canada, or contributing to the economy.”
Any application received by Canada Immigration before June 11, 2015 will be assessed under the old laws (no information has been reported on retroactivity). The old laws were:
- To be eligible, permanent Residents were required to remain in Canada for at least 1095 non-continuous days (3 years) within the last 4 years from date of application
- Permanent residentswho were legally in Canada before becoming permanent residents will receive those days as half-day credit
- Applicants 55 years of age or older do not need to prove English language and do not need to take a Citizenship test on knowledge of Canada
- No intention to declare to reside in Canada is required
The changes include the following:
- In force June 11, 2015)
- Adult applicants must now be physically present in Canada for at least 1,460 days (four years) during the six years before the date of their application, and they must be physically present in Canada for at least 183 days in each of four calendar years within the qualifying period.
- Applicants between the ages of 14 and 64 must meet basic knowledge and language requirements.
- Citizenship will be automatically extended to additional “Lost Canadians” on June 11th, who were born before 1947, and did not become citizens on January 1, 1947 when the first Canadian CitizenshipActcame into effect.
- Adult applicants must declare their intent to reside in Canada once they become citizens and meet their personal income tax obligations in order to be eligible for citizenship.
- To help improve program integrity, there are now stronger penalties for fraud and misrepresentation (to a maximum fine of $100,000 and/or up to five years in prison). This is aimed at deterring unscrupulous applicants who are prepared to misrepresent themselves, or advise others to do so.
Attorney Henry Moyal is a certified and licensed immigration lawyer in Toronto, Ontario. The above article is general advice only and is not intended to act as a legal document. Send questions to Attorney Moyal by email email@example.com or call toll free 1-888-847-2078.