Amendments to the Citizenship Act became law on June 19, 2014. The resulting changes were brought into effect at various points starting in June 2014, and continued to January 2015. The remaining changes will come into force on June 11, 2015.
The key changes coming into force on June 11, 2015:
- 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. This is aimed at ensuring that citizenship applicants develop a strong attachment to Canada.
- Applicants between the ages of 14 and 64 must meet basic knowledge and language requirements. This is aimed at ensuring that more new citizens are better prepared for life in Canada.
- Citizenship will be automatically extended to additional “Lost Canadians” on June 11th, who were born before 1947, and did not become citizens on January 1, 1947 when the first Canadian Citizenship Act came into effect. This will also apply to their children born in the first generation outside Canada.
- 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.
- To help improve program integrity, 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 received after June 10, 2015 will be returned to the applicant.
Citizenship Fees are increased on January 1, 2015:
- Fee for adult grant and resumption applications will increase from $300 to $530.
- Applications for a grant and resumptions of citizenship to a minor are exempt.
- The $100 Right of Citizenship fee for successful applicants remains the same.
Key changes in effect as of June 19, 2014 include:
- Fast-tracking citizenship for members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF);
- Improving clarity on the first generation limit on citizenship for those born abroad;
- Extending the exception to the first generation limit to ensure the children of Crown servants can pass on citizenship; and
- Moving the decision-making authority for discretionary citizenship grants to the Minister.