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New Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act Provisions Come Into Force Today

New Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act Provisions Come Into Force Today

May 29, 2015 – The Government of Canada announced today the coming into force of certain provisions included in the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act, which received Royal Asset on June 19, 2014. Those provisions authorize the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, or delegate, to revoke the Canadian citizenship of dual citizens convicted of certain offenses or found to have fraudulently obtained their citizenship.

Grounds for Revocation

The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, or a delegate (e.g., Citizenship Officer) will be authorized to revoke the Canadian citizenship of a dual citizen convicted of terrorism, high treason and/or treason, and espionage.

Further, the Minister or delegate is authorized to make decisions in revocation cases where dual citizens are found to have concealed criminal charges or convictions, or committed residence or identity fraud.

The Federal Court will now be authorized to revoke the Canadian citizenship of dual citizens who serve as members in the armed forces of a country or organized non-state entity engaged in armed conflict with Canada.

The Process for Revocation

Cases involving revocation pursuant to a conviction, or for residence or identity fraud or the concealing of past criminal charges or convictions, will be decided by the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration or a delegate.

The Federal Court will decide on more complex cases, including those involving war crimes, crimes against humanity, fraud involving security, international rights violations and organized criminality, as well as those cases where a dual citizen is found to be a member of the armed forces of a country or non-state entity engaged in conflict with Canada.

Constitutional Concerns

Despite today’s announcement, there is concern in some circles that these provisions may not survive Charter scrutiny. The lack of an effective appeals process and the low standards of evidence being applied in contrast with the severity of the penalty, may give rise to constitutional problems.

Green and Spiegel will continue to monitor developments in this area.

If you have any questions about today’s announcement, or wish to discuss applying for Canadian citizenship, please contact Green and Spiegel LLP.