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Changes to Canada’s Citizenship Act Could Mean A Speedier Pathway to Citizenship for Permanent Residents

The process of acquiring Canadian citizenship can be both lengthy and demanding, as anyone who has gone through it knows. On June 19, 2017, Bill C-6 (an act amending the Canadian Citizenship Act) received Royal Assent making the criteria for eligibility to citizenship in Canada more flexible and the pathway from permanent resident to citizen smoother. Here are some notable changes to the Citizenship Act:

1. Residency Requirement Reduced

Prior to Bill C-6, applicants were required to have resided in Canada for four out of six years (1460 days) prior to applying for citizenship. This requirement has been brought down to three out of five years (1095 days), as was the case before the implementation of Bill C-24 by the Conservative government in 2014. Although this major change has not yet come into effect, the Federal Government plans on implementing it in the fall. In conjunction with this change, applicants must file their income taxes under the Income Tax Act for the three out five years, as opposed to the previous requirement of filing income taxes for four of six years prior to applying for citizenship.

2. No Residency Requirement for New Citizens

Previously, an applicant had to intend to continue to reside in Canada once citizenship had been granted, but no longer. With the new changes, individuals who need to work or live outside of Canada after having been granted citizenship are no longer required to present a formal intention to continue living in Canada after citizenship is granted.

3. Temporary Resident Status Now Counts Toward Residency Requirement

Prior to Bill C-6, only the number of days after acquiring permanent residency were counted towards the residency obligation. With the new changes to the Citizenship Acta total of half the time spent in Canada as a temporary resident (for example, as a student or temporary worker) may be counted towards the residency requirement, thus recognizing that making citizenship quicker to acquire is more reflective of today’s immigrant population. Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Ahmed Hussen, stated that “for temporary workers or for international students who become permanent residents after, their attachment to Canada starts way before becoming permanent residents.”

4. Dual Citizenship Cannot Be Revoked

Finally, the Canadian Government will no longer be able to revoke Canadian citizenship to dual citizens for national security reasons. “C-24 took us down the road to introduce two-tier citizenship, and we absolutely abhorred that and denounced that at the time, and we knew that Canada should never have two-tiered citizenship,” said Hussen, at the recent Canadian Bar Association (Immigration Section) conference. Many of the changes brought forward by the new Bill are intended to make Canada’s Citizenship Act fairer while presenting a citizenship process that is easier and quicker for applicants. What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.