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June 20, 2014

Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act: A comparative view

This bill is now law in Canada

Current Act

  • Residence for three out of four years (1,095 days);
  • No requirement that resident be physically present;
  • Time as a non-permanent resident (non-PR) may be counted toward residence for citizenship;
  • No intent to reside provision
  • Adult applicants aged 18?54 must meet language requirements and pass knowledge test; upper age limit of 54 currently established by policy, not in legislation;
  • Applicants can meet knowledge requirement with assistance of an interpreter
  • Most “Lost Canadians? had their citizenship restored in 2009, but some “Lost Canadians? were not covered by that change and are not eligible for citizenship
  • Bars getting citizenship from people with domestic criminal charges and convictions
  • Consultants not required to be registered or regulated in order to represent individuals in citizenship manner;
  • Few tools to deter fraud and ensure program integrity;
  • Fines and penalties for fraud are a maximum of $1,000 and/or one year in prison
  • Governor in Council (GIC) final decision maker for citizenship revocation
  • GIC final decision maker on discretionary grants of citizenship
  • Limited authority to define what constitutes a complete application
  • Citizenship grant is a three-step decision-making process
  • No requirement to file Canadian income taxes to be eligible for a grant of citizenship
  • No authority to revoke citizenship for acts against Canada?s national interest
  • No fast-track mechanism for citizenship for members of the military to honour their service to the Canadian Armed Forces and address deployment challenges

Proposed Act

  • Requires physical presence for four years (1,460 days) out of the six years;
  • 183 days minimum of physical presence per year in four out of six years;
  • Eliminate use of time spent in Canada as a non-permanent resident (non-PR);
  • Introduce “intent to reside? provision
  • Requires applicants aged 14?64 to meet language requirements and pass knowledge test;
  • Applicants must meet knowledge requirement in English or French
  • Extends citizenship to “Lost Canadians? born before 1947 as well as their 1st generation children born abroad
  • Expands bar on getting citizenship to people with foreign criminal charges and convictions
  • Defines who is an authorized representative and provides authority to develop regulations to designate a regulatory body whose members would be authorized to act as consultants in citizenship matters;
  • Authority to refuse applicant for fraud; fines and penalties for fraud are a maximum $100,000 and/or five years in prison
  • Gives Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) Minister authority to decide on routine revocation cases
  • Complex revocation cases such as war crimes, crimes against humanity, security, other human or international rights violations, and organized criminality decided by the Federal Court
  • Gives CIC Minister the authority to decide on discretionary grants of citizenship
  • Establishes authority to define what constitutes a complete application and what evidence applicants must provide
  • Changes citizenship grant to a single-step process that reduces duplication and improves processing times.
  • Requires adult applicants to file Canadian income taxes, as required under the Income Tax Act, to be eligible for citizenship
  • Establishes the authority to revoke Canadian citizenship from dual citizens who were members of an armed force or an organized armed group engaged in armed conflict with Canada, and deny it to PRs for the same reasons
  • Authority to revoke Canadian citizenship and deny it to PRs who are convicted of terrorism, high treason, treason, or spying offences, depending on the sentence received
  • Creates a fast-track mechanism for citizenship for PRs serving with?and individuals on exchange with? the Canadian Armed Forces to honour their service to Canada

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