Residents urged to apply for Canadian citizenship to avoid hurdles on horizon

Nicholas Keung’s story on the coming-into-force provisions of C-24 Citizenship Act, and some concrete stories about some who will be affected:

When Ottawa enacted the new law in June, many, including frontline immigrant settlement workers, assumed it would take effect immediately and that little could be done to beat its more restrictive criteria.

In fact, some of the most controversial changes — requiring citizenship applicants to be present in Canada for four years out of six rather than three years out of four, and raising the age of exemption from language and citizenship tests to 65, from 55 — won’t come into force until next June, immigration officials confirmed to the Star.

“We want to tell people it’s not too late, and they should take advantage of the old rules,” said Ann McRae, executive director of the Rexdale legal clinic, a member of the Inter-Clinic Immigration Working Group.

At the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario, staff have reached out to community groups to deliver workshops and help clients file citizenship applications.

“All the changes were rushed through so quickly that people are confused,” said clinic lawyer Karin Baqi. “Those who are eligible today may not be eligible tomorrow. We have to get the word out.”

Remon Kirkor came here from Iraq with his wife and three daughters in 2007. The family met the three-year residence requirement in 2010. Yet, Kirkor, 44, hasn’t applied for citizenship, because he knows that as a high school dropout he would have a tough time passing the language test or the citizenship knowledge exam offered only in English and French.

“I work 20 hours a day to support my family. By day, I am a window installer. At night, I work as a dishwasher,” Kirkor, a former truck driver for UNICEF, said through his daughter, Mariam. “I have no time to sleep. I have no time to study English.”

Residents urged to apply for Canadian citizenship to avoid hurdles on horizon | Toronto Star.

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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