Toronto: Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander unveiled the first comprehensive reforms to the Citizenship Act since 1977. Bill C-24, The Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act, will protect the value of Canadian citizenship for those who have it while creating a faster and more efficient process for those applying to get it.
Citizenship application fees will be better aligned with the actual cost of processing, relieving the burden on Canadian taxpayers who currently subsidize 80 percent of the cost.
New provisions will also help individuals with strong ties to Canada, such as by automatically extending citizenship to additional “Lost Canadians” who were born before 1947, as well as to their children born in the first generation outside Canada.
Under new legislation, permanent residents will have to have a “physical presence” in Canada for four years out of six years before applying for citizenship, compared to the previous requirement of three out of four years.
They will also need to be physically present in Canada for 183 days each year for at least four of those six years and will have to file Canadian income taxes to be eligible for citizenship. More applicants will now be required to meet language requirements and pass a knowledge test, to ensure that new citizens are better prepared to fully participate in Canadian society. The age range for language requirements will be extended to aged 14-64, compared to the current range of those aged 18-54. Also reforms in Citizenship act include stronger penalties for fraud and misrepresentation (a maximum fine of $100,000 and/or five years in prison), and expanding the grounds to bar an application for citizenship to include foreign criminality which will help improve program integrity.