February 6, 2014 – Today, Canada’s Federal Government tabled Bill C-24, the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act in the House of Commons. The Act will increase the residency, knowledge and language requirements for permanent residents to apply for Canadian citizenship. It also aims to streamline the application process in order to reduce a backlog of applications.
What you need to know:
- Applicants for Canadian citizenship must have lived in Canada, and filed taxes, for four of six years prior to their application. Applicants must be physically present in Canada at least half a year for each of those four years. The modified residency requirements will not be imposed on individuals who applied for citizenship prior to the passage of the bill.
- Applicants must now declare that they have an ‘intent to reside’ in Canada.
- Applicants from age 14-64 will be required to demonstrate proficiency in either official language and pass a citizenship test in that language. Currently, this requirement only applies to applicants between the ages of 18-54.
- Application fees for adults will increase from $100 to $300. The application fee for minors will remain unchanged.
- Citizenship officers, rather than citizenship judges, will make the decision on citizenship applications.
Citizenship officers will be empowered to determine whether or not an application is complete, including making the determination on whether or not applicants have complied with Canadian tax laws.
Once passed, the new streamlined application screening process will affect those who have already applied for citizenship. For more information on the application process, the proposed changes to the Citizenship Act, or for answer to any questions you may have, please contact Green & Spiegel LLP.