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11 Facts About Canada’s New Citizenship Act

Published on: October 18th, 2017

In June 2017, the Canadian government made changes to the citizenship act when it passed Bill C-6. After the bill received royal assent, it was made into a law and with it came several changes to the Citizenship Act. The changes will prove beneficial for thousands of immigrants in Canada who are hoping to achieve Canadian citizenship one day.

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Although Bill C-6 was passed in Parliament in June, many of the changes couldn’t be implemented until later in the year because Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) had to make regulatory changes to accommodate them.

The main purpose of these changes was to ease the barriers introduced by the previous government that made it more difficult to apply for Canadian citizenship.

Here are the main changes that Bill C-6 has brought with it:

  1. Individuals who are dual citizens cannot have their Canadian citizenship revoked on the basis of treason, spying, a terrorism offense or anything else that could threaten national security. Now, anyone convicted of such crimes will face the Canadian justice system, something that every Canadian citizen has to do if they break the law.
  2. Applicants for Canadian citizenship are no longer required to intend to continue living in the country if they are granted citizenship. This change will benefit anyone who may be required to travel or live outside Canada for work, or for personal reasons.
  3. A minor can now apply for citizenship without needing a Canadian parent. Previously, a minor without a Canadian parent would be required to obtain a waiver from the Minister under a subsection of the Citizenship Act before he or she could obtain citizenship.
  4. The Minister has the power to grant discretionary citizenship in special cases, but only for certain reasons, such as to reward services of exceptional value to Canada. Statelessness, or the condition of being without citizenship to any state, has been added as a reason for the Minister to grant discretionary citizenship.
  5. Previously, applicants were required by law to be physically present in Canada for four out of the six years immediately preceding the citizenship application. Now, the law states that applicants need only be physically present in Canada for three out of five years before they can apply for citizenship.
  6. Applicants were previously required to file Canadian income taxes for four out of six years, if the Income Tax Act required them to do so. Now, applicants need only file Canadian Income taxes under the Income Tax Act for three out of five years, which matches the new physical presence requirement.
  7. Candidates are no longer required to be physically present in Canada for 183 days in four of the six years immediately preceding their application.
  8. Applicants can now count each day that they were physically present in Canada as a temporary resident (or protected person) before becoming a permanent resident, as a half-day toward meeting the physical presence requirement for Canadian citizenship. This can be granted up to a maximum credit of 365 days.
  9. Applicants between the ages of 14 and 64 years used to be required to meet the language and knowledge requirements for citizenship. This has now been changed to applicants between 18 and 54 years of age.

All of the above changes have already been implemented. There are a two more amendments in Bill C-6 that are expected to come into effect later this year or next year.

  1. Currently, there are two different decision-makers in citizenship revocation cases: the Minister and the Federal Court of Canada. The decision-maker on any case depends on the grounds for revocation. Once the changes take effect, the Federal Court will become the decision-maker in all revocation cases, unless the individual specifically requests that the Minister make the decision.
  2. The Citizenship Act will give citizenship officers clear authority to seize fraudulent or suspected fraudulent documents.

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