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On June 19, 2017, Bill C-6, an Act to amend the Canadian Citizenship Act was given Royal Assent. The Act overhauls the Citizenship Act passed in 2014 which had stringent guidelines and was said to create second-class citizens because of certain provisions. With the passing of Bill C-6 into law, immigrants now have a smoother road towards attaining their citizenship status.
In a nutshell, the Bill C-6 is the fulfilment of the government’s promise to restore equality in citizenship for all Canadians, whether by birth or naturalization. It aims to protect the integrity of the system while facilitating access to citizenship.
Some of the amendments to the Citizenship Act are effective immediately upon Royal Assent, while the others will be enforced at a later date to ensure a smooth transition.
Effective June 19, these provisions of the act are applied immediately:
- Citizenship applicants no longer have to sign a form stating that they intend to continue living in Canada after being granted citizenship. This especially impacts those who have business outside of the country, or need to leave the country for personal or work reasons.
- Revocation of citizenship from dual citizens convicted of treason, terrorism and spying is repealed. Individuals who commit such crimes after being naturalized citizens will face and be tried by the Federal Court, just like other citizens who commit crimes.
- Minors without a Canadian parent can now apply for citizenship. A legal guardian or custodian who are given the power to act on their behalf by court order, are allowed to apply for citizenship on the minor’s behalf.
- Citizenship applicants who are serving a conditional sentence order are barred from being granted citizenship.
These provisions, on the other hand, will take effect in fall of 2017:
- Physical presence and filing of income taxes in Canada is reduced from 4 out of 6 years to 3 out of 5 years prior to application for citizenship.
- Requirement to demonstrate knowledge of Canada and meet the language requirement is now limited to age range between 18 and 54 years instead of 14 and 64 years.
- Requirement to be physically present in Canada for 183 days prior to application is reduced, taking into account the number of days of physical presence before acquiring permanent residence towards the required number.
The following provisions are expected to take effect in early 2018:
- Citizenship Officers are authorized to confiscate fake or suspected fake documents.
- Revocation cases are now under the jurisdiction of the Federal Court instead of the Minister, unless requested otherwise by individuals.
With C-6 now a law, Canadian citizenship is now made equal and fair to all who acquire it, either by birth or by naturalization, eliminating the perception of a two-tiered citizenship in Canada. This further seals the promise of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s during his campaign mantra that “A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian.”