June 30, 2014
Royal Assent of Bill C-24
On 19 June 2014, Bill C-24, known as the Strengthening of the Citizenship Act, received Royal Assent. The changes to the act will ensure that new citizens are better integrated into Canadian society.
The key reforms include but not limited to:
- Shortening the decision-making-process from three steps to one, which will reduce the current backlog by more than 80 percent by 2015-2016;
- The length of time an individual must be physically present in Canada has now increased from 3 out of 4 years to now 4 out of 6 years and physically be present in Canada for a minimum of 183 days per year in at least 4 of the 6 years;
- Applicants age 14-64 will be required to meet language requirements and pass a knowledge test, this is increasing the age from 55 years old;
- The new reform will also implement stronger penalties (fines and/or imprisonment) for fraud and misrepresentation;
- Naturalized Canadian citizens and Permanent residents who are convicted of terrorism or taking up arms against Canada may also have their citizenship revoked if they are also nationals of another country;
- New provisions will also ensure individuals with strong ties to Canada, such as automatically extending citizenship to Lost Canadians who were born before 1947 as well as their children born in the first generation outside of Canada;
- Permanent Residents who are also members of the Canadian Armed Forces will have faster access to obtaining citizenship; and
- Children born to Canadian parents, or adopted by Canadian parents who are serving abroad as servants of the Crown will be able to pass on Canadian citizenship.
The reforms outlined in the bill will go into effect mid 2015.