September 25, 2018
The Revocation of Citizenship
Becoming a Canadian citizen is a long and difficult process for many. In certain cases, after a person becomes a citizen, the government has the ability to revoke citizenship. In order to do so, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship must be satisfied on a balance of probabilities that the citizenship was obtained, retained, renounced or resumed by
- false representation;
- fraud; or
- knowingly concealed material circumstances.
The procedure for revocation of citizenship has changed significantly following Hassouna, a 2017 case which challenged the administrative process of citizenship revocation introduced in 2014. Bill C-6, which received Royal Assent in June 2017, amended the Citizenship Act to require that the Minister must provide written notice (with the reasons and grounds for revocation) and allow the person 60 days to
“make written representations with respect to the matters set out in the notice, including any considerations respecting his or her personal circumstances – such as the best interests of a child directly affected – that warrant special relief in light of all the circumstances of the case and whether the decision will render the person stateless”.
The person may also “request that the case be decided by the Minister” instead of by the Federal Court, which is the default decision maker. Should the Minister decide to proceed with the citizenship revocation process after reviewing the person’s written representations, an application must be filed in the Federal Court seeking a declaration “that the person has obtained, retained, renounced or resumed his or her citizenship by false representation or fraud or by knowingly concealing material circumstances”. If the Court makes such a declaration, the citizenship (or renunciation of citizenship) is revoked.
It is important to note that depending on the facts of a case, the effect of the Court’s declaration (i.e. whether the person becomes a permanent resident or a foreign national) and the revocation process differ. For example, if the person is suspected of being inadmissible on grounds of security, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness may also become a party to the Federal Court application and the person may face removal in the event that the Ministers succeed before the Court.