In February 2014 the government tabled Bill C-24 which proposes a number of significant changes to existing citizenship law. While some changes will work to the advantage of most applicants we are of the view that many permanent residents would be well advised to proceed under the present legislation.
1) Under the present law a person must be resident in Canada 3 of the last 4 years to qualify. The present law does not define “resident” which, has been interpreted by some judges as not requiring physical presence in Canada. Under the proposed law the residency requirements will be lengthened and require a permanent resident to be resident in Canada 4 of the past 6 years and be physically present for at least half that period.
2) Language requirements are also tougher under the proposed legislation. Presently, the language requirements apply to those aged 18-54. The new law will apply to those who are 14-64. In addition, presently interpreters are allowed to assist with testing whereas under the proposed legislation interpreters will no longer be permitted.
3) Under the proposed legislation citizenship can be stripped from dual citizens who are convicted of terrorism, treason or spying abroad.
Not all the news is bad. The proposed legislation will simplify the process of obtaining citizenship and should result in a reduction of the wait time from two years to one. In addition, citizenship will be fast tracked for Permanent Residents who serve in the armed forces. There is also some advantage to having the term “resident” clearly defined to ensure that all citizenship judges apply the same test when assessing applications.
Please contact one of our highly trained immigration lawyers to answer any further questions you may have.