New language and residency rules for Canadian citizenship kick in next week 

The coming into force of these changes within six months of Royal Assent is faster than the almost one year period for the C-24 changes that C-6 undoes. These will have an impact on the number of applications and new citizens.

  • The changes to residency requirements (from four out of six to three out of five years) will have a one-time impact, but with likely a small ongoing one.
  • The changes to testing ages are unlikely to have much of an impact with respect to 14-17 year olds given their time in the Canadian school system.
  • With respect to 55-64 year olds, there will be an ongoing impact. About seven percent (2013 numbers) of all applications were from this age cohort. So there will likely be both a significant one-time bump of those who have not applied over the last two and a half years given testing concerns (more than seven percent), as well as an ongoing impact of up to seven percent.
  • Fees will remain a significant barrier for lower-income immigrants, including of course refugees, and the Minister’s lack of flexibility remains of concern.

The impact of these changes in terms of any sense of pent-up demand will likely await first quarter 2018 data, with early signs from fourth quarter 2017 data:

Starting Oct. 11, permanent residents will be eligible to apply for Canadian citizenship if they have lived in the country for three out of the previous five years.

Also, applicants over 55 years of age are once again exempt from the language and knowledge tests for citizenship under the amended citizenship regulations to be announced by Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen on Wednesday.

The changes will be welcoming news for the many prospective applicants who have been holding off their applications since the newly elected Liberal government introduced Bill C-6 in March 2016 to reverse the more stringent changes adopted by its Conservative predecessor to restrict access to citizenship.

Citizenship applications are expected to go up, reversing the downward trend observed over the last few years after the Harper government raised the residency requirement for citizenship — requiring applicants to be in Canada for four years out of six — and stipulated that applicants between the ages of 14 and 64 must pass language and citizenship knowledge tests.

Immigrant groups and advocates have said the more stringent rules discouraged newcomers’ full integration and participation in the electoral process.

“Citizenship is the last step in immigrant integration. Those unnecessary obstacles put in place by the previous government are hurting us as a country,” Hussen told the Star in an interview Tuesday. “We are proud of these changes and are excited about it.”

Another Liberal reform that takes effect next Wednesday is granting one year credit to international students, foreign workers and refugees for time spent in Canada before becoming permanent residents toward their residency requirements for citizenship.

Despite the anticipated surge in citizenship applications as a result of the relaxed requirements, Hussen said the department will ensure resources are in place to respond to the increased intake. However, he insisted there is no plan to reduce the current $630 citizenship fee for adults and $100 for those under 18.

The changes announced Wednesday are part of the amendments that received Royal Assent in June, including repealing the law that gave Ottawa the power to strip citizenship from naturalized citizens for crimes committed after citizenship has already been granted as well as handing over the power of citizenship revocation to the Federal Court from the immigration minister.

According to government data, 108,635 people applied for Canadian citizenship in the year ended on March 31. Historically, citizenship applications received have averaged closer to 200,000 a year. 

Source: New language and residency rules for Canadian citizenship kick in next week | Toronto Star, Government Bill C-6 Backgrounder

Bill C-6 Receives Royal Assent – Canada.ca

Useful backgrounder on the changes in Bill C-6 and the coming into force provisions.

Short summary for the key changes: repeal of revocation in cases of terror or treason and the intent to reside provision immediately, changes to residency, pre-Permanent Resident time partial credit, and age requirements for language and knowledge assessment this fall. Changes to the revocation procedures in cases of fraud or misrepresentation expected early 2018.

Bill C-6, an Act to amend the Citizenship Act and make consequential amendments to another Act, received Royal Assent on June 16, 2017. This chart explains the changes that have been made to the Citizenship Act and indicates when these changes are expected to come into force.

Source: Bill C-6 Receives Royal Assent – Canada.ca

Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act: Revocation – Coming into Force

No surprise. We shall see what the current court challenge rules (Rocco Galati launches lawsuit over Citizenship Act changes):

The Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act which received Royal Assent on June 19, 2014, included new grounds to revoke Canadian citizenship from dual citizens who are convicted of terrorism, high treason, treason or spying offences, depending on the sentence received. The changes also enable the government to revoke Canadian citizenship from dual citizens for membership in an armed force or organized armed group engaged in armed conflict with Canada.

The technical amendments to the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act under the Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act will allow the revocation and related provisions to come into force earlier than anticipated. These changes will help protect the safety and security of Canadians, and honour the contributions and sacrifices of those who serve Canada by ensuring those who are convicted of such crimes against Canada do not benefit from Canadian citizenship. Revocation is an important tool to safeguard the value of Canadian citizenship and to protect the integrity of the citizenship program.

Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act: Revocation Provisions – Canada News Centre.

Citizenship Act Coming Into Force Provisions

From CIC’s newsletter, details of which provisions have come into force:

Provisions from Bill C-24 that came into force immediately upon Royal Assent included:

  • fast-tracking citizenship applications for members of the Canadian Armed Forces;
  • improving clarity on the first generation limit on citizenship for those born abroad;
  • enabling children born abroad to serving Crown servants to pass citizenship on to their children born or adopted abroad;
  • and streamlined decision-making for issuing discretionary grants  under section 54.

Provisions in the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act that came into force on August 1, 2014, included:

  • the new decision-making model for citizenship applications;
  • various measures to improve efficiency of the application process;
  • and a new judicial review and appeals process.

Other provisions will come into force on a date to be determined by the Governor in Council

E-newsletter.

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.