Significant changes to the requirements for citizenship in Canada come into force next week which officials say give applicants more flexibility.
The changes relate to physical presence in the country and the age required to meet language and knowledge requirements for permanent residents who are applying for citizenship.
Currently applicants aged between 14 and 64 years had to meet the language and knowledge requirements for citizenship, but from 11 October when the changes take effect only those between 18 and 54 years will need meet these requirements.
Under the changes applicants will need to have been in Canada for three out of five years before making their application instead of four out of six years. They will no longer have to be present in Canada for 183 days in four out of six years before applying.
The same timescale will apply to taxes. If required to pay tax applicants must do so for three out of five years instead of four out of six to match the time living in Canada requirements.
Currently the time spent in Canada prior to becoming a permanent resident did not count towards the physical presence requirement for citizenship. From 11 October applicants may count each day they were physically present in Canada as a temporary resident or protected person, before becoming a permanent resident, as a half day toward meeting the physical presence requirement for citizenship, up to a maximum credit of 365 days, within five years preceding the date of application.
The new requirements will become obligatory and give more flexibility to both younger and older eligible immigrants to obtain citizenship. They will also help individuals who have already begun building lives in Canada achieve citizenship faster.
Those citizenship applicants who meet the new requirements must wait until 11 October before making their application as the new forms and guides will not be available until then.
More changes to the Citizenship Act are expected to take effect later this year and in early 2018. These include strengthening the citizenship revocation process so that the Federal Court is the decision maker on most cases, and giving clear authority under the Citizenship Act for citizenship officers to seize fraudulent or suspected fraudulent documents.
‘One of the strongest pillars for successful integration into Canadian life is achieving Canadian citizenship and becoming part of the Canadian family. The Government encourages all immigrants to take the path towards citizenship and take advantage of everything that being a Canadian has to offer,’ said Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.
Some changes to the Citizenship Act are already in place including repealing of the ability to revoke citizenship from dual citizens convicted of crimes against the national interest and making it easier for minors to apply for citizenship without a Canadian or permanent resident parent.
Also, there is no longer a requirement for applicants to intend to continue to reside in Canada once granted citizenship.