Changes to Canadian Citizenship [June 2015]
The Canadian government has proposed a number of changes to the rules and procedures for obtaining citizenship, effective June 2015. Any permanent residents who meet the current criteria and decide to apply before the changes come into effect will not have their applications affected by these changes.
If you are considering applying for Canadian citizenship, it is safe to assume you are aware of, or have explored, some of the benefits and privileges that will become available to you. Some of these benefits are:
- Better protection of your status in Canada. You will no longer be susceptible to things like deportation or a revoking of your citizenship, unless you are found to be in breach of certain circumstances prescribed by the United Nations and Canada.
- You will be able to exercise suffrage (i.e. vote) in Canadian political affairs
- Any children you may happen to have outside Canada after you have become a Canadian citizen will still be considered Canadian citizens at birth
Key Changes to Citizenship Application
1. Age, Language, and Testing
The current rules of attaining Canadian citizenship only require you to demonstrate proficiency in English or French and knowledge of Canadian history, values, customs, etc. if you are between 18 and 54 years of age. The testing of knowledge Canada is also able to be conducted through an interpreter.
New Rules :
Under the new rules, individuals between 14 and 17 years of age and 55 and 64 years will now be included in the language and testing requirements. There will also be no option to prove knowledge of Canada through an interpreter any longer. All testing will be done in English or French. The only exception to this is if you can prove that you are unable to sufficiently meet the requirements for either language or knowledge about Canada, or both. An example of sufficient proof is a doctor’s letter stating that you are victim to a medical condition that makes you unable to learn enough to meet the requirements.
2. Residency Requirement
You are eligible to apply for Canadian citizenship if you have lived in the country for three out of the last four years. You must be a permanent resident at the time of applying, but you will be able to include time spent in the country before becoming a permanent resident as a fulfillment of your residency requirement.
You must calculate time you intend to use to fulfill your residency requirement only from when you became a permanent resident. The residency requirement will also become a two-part one:
- You must have lived in Canada as a permanent resident for 4 out of the last 6 years
- For each of the 4 years, you must spend at least 183 days in the country
3. Income Tax Returns
There is currently no requirement of proof that you have filed income taxes for the time you have been in Canada.
The new rules, however, will require that you prove you have filed income taxes for 4 out of the last 6 years you have lived in Canada as a permanent resident.
4. Plans to Continue Living in Canada
Current rules do not require you to show that you will live in Canada once you are granted citizen status.
Under the new rules, you must show that you intend to continue living in Canada if your citizenship application is successful. You risk having your citizenship revoked if you leave Canada and live somewhere else.
Note: Permanent Residents serving with, or on exchange with, the Canadian Armed Forces will now be able to apply for citizenship under a fast-track process under the new rules. Foreign military members who are/were attached or seconded to the Canadian Armed Forces may also utilize this fast-track citizenship application.
For information on these proposed changes and how to go about your citizenship application, contact us and our knowledgeable representatives will be glad to assist you.