— Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act
On February 6, 2014, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada announced a Blueprint for Improvements of Canadian Citizenship.The Canadian Government is commit to reduce backlogs and improve the efficiency of the process by strengthening the integrity of Canada’s Citizenship System. These are the first major reforms to take place since 1977. The changes are part of Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act (Bill C-24). The Bill has received final passage in June, 2014.
Here are the major Changes to Canadian Citizenship Act that announced by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC):
Reinforce the Value of Canadian Citizenship
- Reduce the processing system from 3 steps to 1 step
- Increase the application fee from $100 to $300
- Requires applicants to provide obvious indication for a physical presence in Canada during the residence period
- Requires 14-64 year-old applicants to meet more strict language requirements and pass a knowledge test
- Increase Residency Requirements from 3 out of 4 years to 4 out of 6 years.In addition, applicants will need to be physically present in Canada for 183 days per year for at least four of those six years.
Crack Down on Citizenship Fraud
- Increase penalties for fraud and misrepresentation to a maximum fine of $100,000 and/or five years in prison;
- Include foreign criminality as part of the ground to bar the application;
- Make it an offence to use unauthorized individuals to knowingly represent or advise in Citizenship matters for a fee.
Protect and Promote Canada’s Interests and Values
- Citizenship can be revoked from dual nationals who are convicted of terrorism, high treason, and spying offences, or who take up arms against Canada.
- Permanent Residents who commit these acts will be barred from applying for citizenship.
- Provide Individuals who have served Canada in uniform—and those who currently serve— as well as their children a quicker access to Canadian citizenship
- Automatically extending citizenship to additional “Lost Canadians” who were born before 1947, as well as to their children born in the first generation outside Canada.
The Blueprint of Citizenship Improvements
The new reforming of the act aims at simplify Canada’s citizenship program. By 2015–2016, these changes are expected to：
- bring the average processing time for citizenship applications down to under 1 year
- reduce the current backlog by more than 80 percent
- better aligned the application fees with the actual cost of processing to relieve the current financial burden on Canadian taxpayers
- ensure new citizens have a stronger attachment to Canada
- support newcomer’s integration to the Canadian economy and communities
- effectively protect the value of Canadian citizenship and prevent fraud
The Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act, along with the launch of the Blueprint for Citizenship Improvements, helps improve the citizenship process by reducing backlogs and wait times.” Says Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander, “Our government is proud to table improvements to the Citizenship Act that reinforce the value of citizenship and make the process quicker and easier for new Canadians who play by the rules.
For more information about the Changes to Canadian Citizenship Act, please contact us.