Proposed law would relax citizenship requirements

29 Feb 16

CANADA

IMPACT – MEDIUM

What is the change? A law has been introduced that would amend the Citizenship Act and relax some of the criteria for foreign nationals seeking eligibility for Canadian citizenship.

What does the change mean? Among the changes, the act would reduce the length of time a foreigner is required to be physically present in Canada, allow more time to count toward the physical-presence requirement, eliminate the intent-to-reside requirement, and remove the language and knowledge requirements for foreigners over age 54.

  • Implementation time frame: The law is in the proposal stage and has not taken effect.
  • Visas/permits affected: Naturalization.
  • Who is affected: Foreign nationals applying to become Canadian citizens.
  • Business impact: Foreign nationals would be eligible to become citizens one year sooner than under current rules.

Background: The proposed Act to Amend the Citizenship Act was introduced Friday.

Under the proposal, foreign nationals would be eligible to apply for citizenship if they were physically present in Canada for three of the previous five years. Current rules require physical presence for four of the previous six years. The proposed law would also remove the requirement that applicants be physically present for 183 days per calendar year when counting eligible years. In addition, applicants could count the time spent in Canada before becoming a permanent resident toward calculating physical presence; each day spent in Canada as a temporary resident would count as a half-day toward meeting the physical-presence requirement.

The law would also repeal several restrictions that have recently been added to the Citizenship Act: Applicants over age 54 would not have to fulfill language and knowledge requirements (currently applicable to those up to age 64), applicants would not be required to declare their “intent to reside” in Canada on their application, and the government could no longer revoke citizenship based on national security grounds.

BAL Analysis: If the law passes, the rules will be significantly more favorable for foreign nationals, allowing them to become eligible for citizenship more quickly.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Canada. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

Copyright © 2016 Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. All rights reserved. Reprinting or digital redistribution to the public is permitted only with the express written permission of Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. For inquiries please contact copyright@balglobal.com.