The Governor General of Canada, David Johnston, granted Royal ascent to Bill C-6 on Monday, June 19th. This essentially means that the Canadian Citizenship Act has been amended to make it quicker and simpler for immigrants to become Canadian citizens. This is excellent news for high net worth individuals who want to take advantage of Quebec’s Investor Visa Program. Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Mr. Ahmed Hussen said, “We want all permanent residents, if possible, to become Canadians."
The amendments to the Canadian Citizenship Act will become effective in three consecutive time phases:
- In the fall of 2017
- In early 2018
The exact changes and the timeframe when each will become effective are outlined below. Some amendments will affect the majority of applicants, some are simple clarifications of the existing law, and some only apply to very specific cases, such as for individuals convicted of a crime. Below we’ve detailed the original law and how the new act departs from it.
Changes That Take Effect Now
- Formerly, citizenship applicants were required to have the intention to live in Canada after becoming citizens. This no longer applies. A dual citizen is free to live outside Canada, so they now have more flexibility to be mobile.
- Originally, The Minister could grant citizenship at his discretion to a minor who did not have a Canadian parent. Minors have now been granted more control over their lives in that they, or their legal representatives, may now apply for citizenship in their own right without being at the mercy of The Minister’s decision.
- Previously, the Minister could grant citizenship at his discretion to individuals in order to alleviate certain cases of hardship, or to reward services of exceptional value to Canada. This still applies, but “statelessness” is now an officially-recognized case of hardship.
- Formerly, there was no specific protocol for individuals with disabilities, even though the department had the ability to accommodate such cases. The Act now requires reasonable measures to be taken to accommodate people with disabilities.
- Previously, applicants whose applications were received on or after June 11, 2015 had to continue to meet all citizenship requirements between the date of their application and the date they took the Oath of Citizenship. This condition now applies to everyone, not just those who applied before June 11, 2015.
- Formerly, a person serving a "conditional sentence order" for committing a crime could not be prevented from becoming a citizen, neither was there anything to stop them from counting the sentence time toward the physical presence requirements. The Act now says that anyone serving such a sentence cannot apply for citizenship, nor count the time served toward meeting their physical presence requirement.
- Originally, a dual citizen who was convicted of treason, spying or terrorism, or who joined an armed force at war with Canada could have their citizenship revoked. Now, the Act says that such individuals will face the Canadian justice system, just like any other citizen.
Changes That Take Effect in Fall 2017
- Before the new amendments, applicants had to be physically present in Canada for 4 of the previous 6 years. The time requirements have now been reduced to 3 of the previous 5 years, making it easier for applicants to satisfy physical presence requirements.
- Previously, candidates had to file Canadian income tax returns for 4 of the same 6 years, now they just need to file for the respective 3 out of 5.
- Formerly, applicants had to be physically present in Canada for a minimum of 183 days in the 4 out of 6 years. This requirement has been removed.
- Previously, time spent in Canada before becoming a permanent resident did not count toward the total physical presence requirement. Now, each day spent as a temporary resident counts as a half-day toward the physical presence requirement, but only up to a total of 365 days. This means that if someone holds temporary residency and is present in Canada for 2 years, they will now be able to count that time as 1 year of the new 3 year requirement.
- Formerly, applicants between 14 and 64 years of age had to meet language and knowledge requirements. This now only applies to applicants between 18 and 54 years old.
Changes That Take Effect in Early 2018.
- The Minister or the Federal Court were previously responsible for revoking someone’s citizenship if they fraudulently or knowingly misrepresented themselves. The specific context of the case would determine whether the decision was made by the Minister or the Court. The Federal Court now makes all such decisions unless the accused person specifically requests the Minister to intervene.
Changes to The Canadian Immigration Act will have a very positive effect on high net worth individuals who see this beautiful country as a base for their North American and global citizenship plans. The changes are even more attractive when linked to the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program (QIIP) which leads to permanent residency, and ultimately to citizenship. Please click the link to learn more about QIIP, and to arrange a free initial consultation with our Canada-immigration specialists.