New Citizenship Bill Overhauls Canadian Citizen Act

In what the Canadian government is billing as the biggest “overhaul” of the Canadian Citizen Act since 1977, Bill C-24 proposes some major changes to the current Canadian immigration process. This new bill takes aims to strengthen the value of the Canadian citizenship.

In an effort to underline the government’s ner position on immigration, citizenship bill C-24 takes steps towards ensuring that new Canadian citizens are fully prepared for life in Canada and demonstrate a genuine attachment to the country.

The bill provides a clearer definition of “resident” with stricter guidelines concerning the period of time necessary to qualify for citizenship. Under the old rules, applicants had to live in Canada for three out of the four past years. The new rules allow them to apply after four years of residency in a six-year period, and they must be physically in the country for at least half the time in four of those years. In addition, applicants must file Canadian Income Tax while waiting to apply for citizenship.

“The government’s changes to the Citizenship Act reinforce the message that Canadian citizenship is valued around the globe and comes with duties and rights, privileges and responsibilities.” Chris Alexander, Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister, says of the proposed changes.

Bill C-24 is seen as an improvement to the Citizenship Act that ensures new Canadians have a stronger attachment to Canada and fully embrace Canadian values and traditions. Adults applying for citizenship will have to pay $300 in application fees, which is up from $100 under the current Citizenship Act.

More significantly, language requirements will also get more stringent with applicants having to pass a knowledge test. Prior to bill C-24 applicants aged 18-54 had to speak either English or French, were required to take a knowledge test and could use the aid of a translator, if needed. Under the new legislation, the age range would change to include persons as young as 14 and would no longer allow for the use of a translator.

Those opposed to the bill claim that the proposed changes move away from Canada’s long standing “mosaic” approach to immigration. In addition, the bill attempts to narrow down a more definitive idea of what it means to be Canadian, effectively ending any notions of an “open door policy”.

Other changes would allow permanent residents serving with the Canadian Forces to have their applications fast-tracked. In addition, the fines for immigration fraud will also be raised considerably going from $1000 to $100,000 with the maximum prison sentence moving from one year to five.

The bill has already gone through two readings in the House of Commons Once and is on the fast-track to being passed by the Conservative Party. Once the bill has been passed, the measures will go into effect.

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  1. Wagdy Gerges says:

    when the new changes for citizenship will go through?
    we knew there will be changes in citizenship from February 2016 and until now didn’t go through??

  2. […] the changes introduced with the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act (Bill C-24). This controversial bill was introduced in 2014 and became a law in 2015, raising a heated discussion about what it meant to […]

  3. Ricky says:

    I got PR status in 2014 when new rules were not there , so can I still apply to citizenship under old rules or not

    • Alex says:

      Hi Ricky,

      Your citizenship application will be based on the regulations currently at place. However, there have been more changes in the immigration since Bill C-24, so I would recommend you to look into what the current application process looks like!

      I would also advise speaking with an immigration consultant about your application process to get more details.

      Hope this helps!

  4. Ahmed says:

    Hi there! When is expected to have these proposed changes be in place- effective?! Thanks

  5. Sukhman says:

    will provincial nominees be allowed to move anywhere in Canada and if they do so will it have any impact on their PR status or citizenship application.

  6. Omar says:

    Hi Id like to know if I can apply for Canadian Citizenship after being in the country for 3 full years? Or do I have to be in the country a minimum of 4 years? Ive been in Canada since April 2014 and I dont plan on ever leaving anywhere else.

  7. Abel says:

    Hi, does this new law affect in any ways those who got their citizenship in 1992? I have been living out of the country for almost 5 years alreday and I was wondering about this new law. Your comments would be greatly appreciated. Thanks…

  8. Daniel says:

    Hi, Finally today they announced that the new citizenship laws will be fully in force as of June 11, 2015. But still there is no explicit statement if the new rules will be applicable to those who will get their PR after June 11, 2015, or this rules will also be applicable to all current PR?

    • Janice Bandick says:

      Hi Daniel,

      Thank you for your comment. According to the CIC “Adult applicants must now be physically present in Canada for at least 1,460 days (four years) during the six years before the date of their application, and they must be physically present in Canada for at least 183 days in each of four calendar years within the qualifying period.”

  9. Howard says:

    Hi… I got my PR and landed in September 2013. As per existing rule I should be eligible for citizenship in Sept 2016. So will the new rule be applicable to me as well? I mean will it now become 2017 for me or am I exempt since I am already a PR holder. I heard the new rule would only effect new Permanent Residents. Thanks.

  10. Bassem says:

    Hello,
    I am hoping if you could clarify something for me. I became a PR in September 2012. Will the new bill apply to me? or I can apply according to old rule of 3 years out of 4 last years?

    • Janice Bandick says:

      Hi Basseem,

      According to the CIC website:

      Residency requirements

      Proposed amendments include changes to citizenship residency requirements. According to the current Citizenship Act, applicants must have resided in Canada for three out of four years (1,095 out of 1,460 days), yet ÔÇÿresidence’ is not defined. As a result, it has been possible for individuals who have spent little time in Canada to acquire citizenship. The amendments would require applicants to be physically present for four years (1,460 days) in a six-year period, and require applicants to be physically present in Canada for at least 183 days per year in four of the six years.

      Another proposed change relates to the amount of time applicants spend in Canada before becoming permanent residents (PRs). Currently, each day that applicants spend in Canada before they become PRs counts as a half day of residence toward fulfilling their residency requirement for citizenship. Under the proposed measures, time spent in Canada as a non-PR would no longer meet citizenship residency requirements.

      Because time spent in Canada before becoming a permanent resident no longer counts towards citizenship residency requirements, you may not meet the new requirements. However, according to http://citizenshipcounts.ca/citizenship-act-changes, this change is not yet in practice. It may be helpful for you to speak with an immigration consultant regarding these issues, or to contact Citizenship and Immigration Canada directly by visiting http://www.canada.ca/en/contact/index.html#gen.

  11. Herve says:

    Dear All,
    I would like to know from which date the new rules will become effective. As a PR I just have 6 months left according to the previous rules in order to apply for citizenship. I am wondering whether I will be affected by the new rules.
    Thanks.

  12. Shailesh Doshi says:

    hi Shelby,

    My wife has had her PR for 31 years and will be 54 years old in October 15. She will will meet residency of 3 full years then.

    Will it be required for her to sit the Language Tests per the new Bill if she applies for citizenship in November?

    • Janice Bandick says:

      Hi Shailesh,

      Thank you for your comment. Bill C-24 was passed in June 2014 and is now law. To apply for Canadian citizenship, permanent residents now both have to have lived in Canada for four years out of the last six, and also have to have lived in Canada for 183 days or more per year in four out of the last six years. Previously, permanent residents only had to live in Canada for three out of the four years prior to their application.

      In regards to the language requirement, applicants aged 14-64 must demonstrate proficiency in either English or French and pass a Canadian knowledge test without the help of an interpreter. Previously, only applicants aged 18-54 needed to complete the language requirement and were permitted to use an interpreter if needed.

      Hopefully this information has answered your question, if you require more information on Bill C-24, please visit http://www.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?Language=E&Mode=1&DocId=6684615.

  13. Anna says:

    Would the changes to the right of mobility effect the Canadians who got their citizenship 10 years ago? I am planning to move to Dubai .

    • Shelby Petersen says:

      Hi Anna,

      While the bill does make it easier to lose citizenship, it does not effect mobility. Residing in another country is not cause for losing your Canadian Citizenship.

      These new changes will only affect those with dual citizenship. The government has made clear that no Canadian who is not a citizen of another country will lose his or her citizenship.

      The changes it calls for makes it easier for dual citizens who have Canadian citizenship to lose their Canadian citizenship in two ways.

      Citizenship will be revoked if:

      The person has been convicted of crimes such as: 1) terrorism, high treason, treason or spying or, 2) war crimes, crimes against humanity, or other human and international rights violations.

      The first set of crimes may lead to the revocation of citizenship by the Immigration Minister without a trial. That is, according to the proposed changes, whether or not the convicted person loses his or her citizenship would be up to the discretion of the Immigration Minister.

      Appeal of such decisions would not be permitted. The second set of crimes may lead to the revocation of citizenship if decided by a Federal Court.

      I hope you find this information helpful.

  14. Terry says:

    It will apply to all current Permanent residents who have not yet applied by the date that this bill becomes active.

  15. Atif says:

    Are the changes regarding the stay in canada from 3out of 4 years same.

  16. d.vivar says:

    will the new bill apply retroactively to PRs who either arrived and/or applied for citizenship before the new bill is approved?

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