No announcement yet.

Article: Changes Proposed By Canadian Government Will Make Getting Citizenship More Difficult By Edward C. Corrigan


  • Article: Changes Proposed By Canadian Government Will Make Getting Citizenship More Difficult By Edward C. Corrigan

    Changes Proposed By Canadian Government Will Make Getting Citizenship More Difficult


    On February 6, 2014 Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander introduced into Parliament the first comprehensive changes to the Citizenship Act since 1977. Following Conservative government’s practice of giving political names to its legislation, Bill C-24, is titled “Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act.”

    According to the Minister Alexander the Bill “will protect the value of Canadian citizenship for those who have it while creating a faster and more efficient process for those applying to get it.” The cost of applying for Canadian Citizenship is also increasing to $400 from $200. This increase is effective immediately.

    Citizenship and Immigration Minister Alexander in a prepared statement also said, “Our government is strengthening the value of Canadian citizenship. Canadians understand that citizenship should not be simply a passport of convenience. Citizenship is a pledge of mutual responsibility and a shared commitment to values rooted in our history. I am pleased to bring forward the first comprehensive and overdue reforms of the Citizenship Act in more than a generation."

    One of the reported objectives for the new Citizenship legislation is to “streamline Canada’s citizenship program by reducing the decision-making process from three steps to one.” It is hoped that, by 2015–2016, this simplified process will bring the average processing time for citizenship applications down to under a year. Currently it can take as long as three years or more to complete the process. There currently is a backlog of around 320,000 Applications.


    One of the objectives for the government is to ensure that “citizenship applicants maintain strong ties to Canada.” Bill-C-24 will provide a clearer definition of the “residence” period to qualify for citizenship. Applicants will now need to be physically present in Canada for a total of four out of their last six years. Previously the required period of residence to qualify for Canadian Citizenship has been 3 years for over 30 years.

    In addition, they would need to be physically present in Canada for 183 days per year for at least four of those six years. In addition Applicant’s must show proof that they have filed income taxes during that period.

    In an effort to crack down on those who seek citizenship for the sole purpose of obtaining a passport, Citizenship Applicant’s will also have to sign a form assuring the government that they intend to reside in Canada, at least until they take the Citizenship oath. After becoming, Canadians they will have the right to mobility and thus cannot be prevented from leaving the country for extended periods of time like all Canadian Citizens.

    The current Act requires 3 years residence in Canada accumulated over a 4 year period. The new Bill will also now require a physical presence in Canada at the time Citizenship is granted and not just for the qualifying period. This is a new restriction

    There are a number of other changes in the proposed legislation for obtaining Canadian Citizenship. For example there is no credit given for time spent in Canada prior to landing, which is not the current practice. Presently up to one year credit can be used for calculating residence for Citizenship if the individual has been in Canada for two years prior to becoming a Permanent Resident of Canada.

    The elimination of any credit for residency before gaining permanent residence has a disproportionate effect on Live In Caregivers who must complete a full two years working as live in caregivers before they are eligible to apply for permanent residence. This provision will also impact accepted Convention Refugees and Foreign Workers.


    Applicants will also now be required to meet more stringent language requirements for speaking either English or French. The new Bill expands the requirement to English or French language and knowledge test requirements are extended to more applicants 14-64 years from the current 18-54 years.

    Applicants will also have to pass a tougher Citizenship knowledge test


    One of the proposed changes is to solve the problem of the so-called “lost Canadians.” The bill will open the door to the children of “war brides” and Canadian servicemen born out-of-wedlock before 1947 when Canada had no citizenship laws of its own.

    This problem is to be solved by automatically extending citizenship to individuals who were born before 1947 to the children of an individual who qualified for Canadian Citizenship and was born outside of Canada. The new Act will also extend Canadian Citizenship to the children of these individuals born in the first generation outside Canada.

    This new provision will allow children of individuals who qualified for Canadian Citizenship but were born outside of Canada before 1947 to become Canadian Citizens and will solve a recognized discriminatory practice.

    The Conservative Government in their 2009 amendments to the Canadian Citizenship Act denied citizenship to the second generation born abroad. Children of Canadians who were born aboard were unable to pass on their Canadian Citizenship to their children if they were born outside of Canada. Accordingly Canada has created a group of “second class” Citizens and potentially a new set of “lost Canadians” and making some children born to Canadians abroad stateless.


    The new Bill also includes stronger penalties for fraud and misrepresentation. A maximum fine of $100,000 and/or five years in prison is being proposed up from the current $1,000 and one year in prison. The government is also streamlining the revocation process for fraudsters, allowing the Minister to make the decision to strip citizenship. Currently there is a three-step process that has hampered efforts to crack down on fraud.

    The Bill also expands the grounds to bar an application for citizenship to include foreign criminality. The new Act also proposes to regulate the citizenship consultant profession.


    The new legislation reportedly “brings Canada in line with most of our peer countries, by providing that citizenship can be revoked from dual nationals who are convicted of terrorism, high treason, and spying offences (depending on the sentence received), or who take up arms against Canada. Permanent residents who commit these acts will be barred from applying for citizenship.”

    Critics point out that only Great Britain has enacted this legislative power and accuse the Canadian government of misrepresenting the facts in order to score cheap political points for pursuing an alleged law and order agenda. The charge is being made that this is largely a non-existent problem.

    Critics also have said that Citizenship once earned is a right and not a privilege to be revoked at the whim of the government of the day. It is also suggested that this designation of “terrorism” is a highly subjective political definition that can be easily abused.

    The United States does have legislation that allows the revocation of American Citizenship for those who break their oath not to reveal classified information. However, this power is rarely invoked.

    Opponents of the changes have raised concerns that the rules about who acquires or loses citizenship should be clear and individuals should have access to a fair hearing. Critics also argue that revocation of Citizenship decisions should not be made on a discretionary basis by the Minister.

    It is argued that the government should respect the principle that citizenship is a status from which rights derive, and is thus a fundamental human right. Citizenship “is not something that is “deserved” or that can be lost through bad behaviour.”

    The Bill also fast tracks the Citizenship process of non-Citizens that serve in the Canadian Armed Forces. The proposed legislation also stipulates that children born to Canadian parents serving abroad as servants of the Crown are able to pass on Canadian Citizenship to children they have or adopt outside Canada.


    Canada has a shameful history of discriminatory and racist Immigration and Citizenship policies. We are now marking the 100th anniversary of the Komagata Maru where Sikhs from India were denied permission to land in Canada. It is also nearing the 75th anniversary of the SS St Louis where over 900 Jewish refugees were refused entry to Canada in 1939 and sent back to Europe.

    Changes to the Citizenship Act need work to undo the racist policies of the past by welcoming newcomers and helping then integrate into Canadian society. We also should bear in mind that the majority of new immigrants and refugees today are people who 75 or 100 years ago were deliberately excluded from Canada. Today’s Citizenship laws must not unfairly target people of colour or other religions in either policy or their effects.

    About The Author

    Edward C. Corrigan Edward C. Corrigan is certified as a specialist by the Law Society of Upper Canada in Citizenship, Immigration and Refugee Law. His office is located in London Ontario at 383 Richmond Street Suite 902, tel. 519-439-4015. He can be reached at

    The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.

      Posting comments is disabled.





    There are no tags yet.

    Latest Articles


    • Article: Birthright Citizenship Is Not A Legal Assumption; It
      Last week on Fox News, Tucker Carlson said,
      08-21-2018, 01:24 PM
    • Blogging: Trump's "National Security" Abuses: First, Muslim Ban; Next, Security Clearance Revocation.. By Roger Algase
      Trump's "National Security" Abuses: First, Muslim Ban; Next, Security Clearance Revocation. Trashing Immigrant Rights Endangers Freedom of All Americans.

      CNN reports on August 21 that 175 former US officials have denounced Donald Trump for revoking the security clearance of former CIA director John Brennan for speaking out in opposition to Trump.

      Presidential use of "national security"
      08-21-2018, 12:54 PM
    • Article: The EB-5 Immigration Program and the Investors Process By H. Ronald Klasko

      If you are having difficulty viewing this document please click here.

      08-20-2018, 08:15 AM
    • Article: Immigration Judges’ Union Fights for Judicial Independence By Karolina Walters
      Immigration Judges’ Union Fights for Judicial Independence by Karolina Walters The National Association of Immigration Judges (NAIJ), the union that represents the nation’s immigration judges, is challenging the government’s decision to remove an immigration judge from a well-known case and replace him with a judge who immediately ordered the immigrant in the case deported. NAIJ’s grievance addresses the treatment of one immigration judge, but its resolution will have implications for judicial independence throughout the entire immigration court system. The grievance was filed on behalf of Philadelphia-based immigration judge Steven A. Morley, who was presiding over the case of Mr. Reynaldo Castro-Tum. Castro-Tum’s case rose to national importance earlier this year when Attorney General Jeff Sessions chose to refer the case to himself to reconsider the Board of Immigration Appeals’ previous decision in the case. In reconsidering the decision, Sessions effectively eliminated judges’ use of administrative closure, a docket management tool. Sessions sent Castro-Tum’s case back to Judge Morley, noting that the immigration court order Castro-Tum removed if he did not appear at his next hearing. Castro-Tum did not appear at the next hearing. However, Judge Morley continued the case to resolve whether Castro-Tum received adequate notice of the hearing. Due process requires, at a minimum, that an individual be given notice of proceedings and an opportunity to be heard by a judge. But before the next hearing could take place, the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) replaced Judge Morley with an Assistant Chief Immigration Judge who ordered Castro-Tum removed when he did not appear at court again. In their grievance, NAIJ asserts that the decision to remove Judge Morley from Castro-Tum’s case and reassign many other cases from his docket resulted in unacceptable interference with judicial independence. The grievance specifically claims that EOIR’s actions violate immigration judges’ authority under the regulations to exerci...
      08-17-2018, 11:12 AM
    • Article: Indirect Refoulement: Why the US Cannot Create a Safe Third Country Agreement with Mexico By Sophia Genovese
      Indirect Refoulement: Why the US Cannot Create a Safe Third Country Agreement with Mexico by Sophia Genovese The Trump Administration is seeking to create and implement a safe third country agreement with Mexico . Under this agreement, asylum seekers arriving at the US border who have travelled through Mexico would be denied the ability to file their asylum claims in the US. Such an agreement would trample on the rights of asylum-seekers, violating both international and US asylum law. In particular, the US would be violating the international principle of non-refoulement , which provides that no State “shall expel or return (“refouler”) a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his [or her] life or freedom would be threatened,” where Mexico has a proven track record of being anything but safe for asylum seekers . The US has also codified Article 33(1) of the Refugee Convention into Section 208(a)(2)(A) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) which provides that it will not return an asylum seeker to his or her country of origin, but may, at the determination of the Attorney General, remove the asylum seeker to a “safe third country… where the [asylum seeker] would have access to a full and fair procedure for determining a claim to asylum or equivalent temporary protection.” Although Mexican officials have not yet indicated whether they would sign a safe third country agreement with the US, asylum advocates should proactively seek to prevent such a devastating policy with a country that lacks adequate asylum protections. As reported by Human Rights First and Amnesty International , 75 percent of asylum seekers apprehended and detained by the National Institute of Migration (INM), the Mexican immigration enforcement agency, were not informed of their right to seek asylum. Even if asylum seekers are able to make their claims, only 30% of the asylum proceedings are ever concluded , and even fewer are granted, leaving many bona fide asylum seekers stranded without a resolution. The treatment of unaccompanied minors’ asylum claims in Mexico are even more dismal. Of the 35,000 minors apprehended by the INM in the first half of 2016, only 138 were able to apply for asylum , of which only 77 were granted protection. Beyond the failing asylum system in Mexico, asylum seekers are also in extreme danger of kidnapping, murder, rape, trafficking, and other crimes by INM officers and civilians. A safe third country agreement with Mexico would violate the United States’ international obligations under the 1967 Optional Protocol to the Refugee Convention, to which we are a signatory, which adopts by incorporation the obligations outlined in the 1951 Refugee Convention, to which the US is not a signatory. Take the example of an asylum-seeker, Mrs. H, who is fleeing politically-motivated violence in Honduras. Her husband, Mr. H, was a vocal political activist who opposed the National Party and members of the Honduran government. Mr. H began to receive death threats due to his political beliefs and reported such threats to the authorities. The authorities, however, di...
      08-16-2018, 02:32 PM
    • Article: Flawed Statistics Undermine USCIS/ICE/SEVP’s Restriction of D/S for Unlawful Presence By Eugene Goldstein, Esq.

      Flawed Statistics Undermine USCIS/ICE/SEVP’s Restriction of D/S for Unlawful Presence


      On August 9, 2018 USCIS published a “Policy Memorandum” restricting the 20-year-old calculation of Duration of Status (D/S) for F-1, J-1 and M-1 entrants (and their derivative families).

      USCIS also published an announcement (hereinafter “announcement”) “USCIS Issues Revised Guidance on Unlawful Presence for Students and Exchange Visitors , and a general discussion “Unlawful Presence and Bars to Admissibility” ...

      08-15-2018, 12:57 PM