Long-awaited changes to Canada’s citizenship laws will come into effect this week, with the final reforms to the Citizenship Act in place as of Thursday, June 11. The reforms result from a package of measures passed by the Canadian Parliament last year.
The government of Canada states that the changes “will deter citizens of convenience – those who become citizens for the sake of having a Canadian passport to return to Canada to access taxpayer-funded benefits that come with citizenship status, without having any attachment to Canada, or contributing to the economy.”
The changes to come in as of June 11 include:
• Adult applicants must now be physically present in Canada for at least 1,460 days (four years) during the six years before the date of their application, and they must be physically present in Canada for at least 183 days in each of four calendar years within the qualifying period.
• Applicants between the ages of 14 and 64 must meet basic knowledge and language requirements in either English or French.
• Adult applicants must declare their intent to reside in Canada once they become citizens and meet their personal income tax obligations in order to be eligible for citizenship.
• There are now stronger penalties for fraud and misrepresentation (to a maximum fine of $100,000 and/or up to five years in prison). This is aimed at deterring unscrupulous applicants who are prepared to misrepresent themselves, or advise others to do so.
• The newly-designated Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC) is the new regulatory body for citizenship consultants. Only members of the ICCRC, lawyers or notaries (including paralegals and students at law) can be paid to provide citizenship applicants with representation or advice.
• New application forms, aligned with the new rules for eligibility, will be available on the CIC website as of June 11, 2015. Any applications received using the old forms and applications received after June 10, 2015 will be returned to the applicant.