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Archived - Strengthening and Modernizing the Citizenship Act

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Reinforcing the value of Canadian citizenship while continuing to move toward a faster and more efficient system

Toronto, February 6, 2014—Today, Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander unveiled the first comprehensive reforms to the Citizenship Act since 1977. Bill C-24, the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act, will protect the value of Canadian citizenship for those who have it while creating a faster and more efficient process for those applying to get it.

Blueprint for Citizenship Improvements

This important legislation will streamline Canada’s citizenship program by reducing the decision-making process from three steps to one. It is expected that, by 2015–2016, this change will bring the average processing time for citizenship applications down to under a year. It is also projected that by 2015-2016, the current backlog will be reduced by more than 80 percent. Citizenship application fees will be better aligned with the actual cost of processing, relieving the burden on Canadian taxpayers who currently subsidize 80 percent of the cost.

Reinforcing the Value of Canadian Citizenship

The government will also ensure citizenship applicants maintain strong ties to Canada. This act will provide a clearer indication that the “residence” period to qualify for citizenship in fact requires a physical presence in Canada. More applicants will now be required to meet language requirements and pass a knowledge test, to ensure that new citizens are better prepared to fully participate in Canadian society. New provisions will also help individuals with strong ties to Canada, such as by automatically extending citizenship to additional “Lost Canadians” who were born before 1947, as well as to their children born in the first generation outside Canada.

Cracking Down on Citizenship Fraud

This legislation includes stronger penalties for fraud and misrepresentation (a maximum fine of $100,000 and/or five years in prison), and expanding the grounds to bar an application for citizenship to include foreign criminality which will help improve program integrity.

Protecting and Promoting Canada’s Interests and Values

Finally, the legislation brings Canada in line with most of our peer countries, by providing that citizenship can be revoked from dual nationals who are convicted of terrorism, high treason, and spying offences (depending on the sentence received), or who take up arms against Canada. Permanent residents who commit these acts will be barred from applying for citizenship.

As a way of recognizing the important contributions of those who serve Canada in uniform, permanent residents who are members of the Canadian Armed Forces will have quicker access to Canadian citizenship. The act also stipulates that children born to Canadian parents serving abroad as servants of the Crown are able to pass on Canadian citizenship to children they have or adopt outside Canada.

Quick facts

  • Canada is successful in turning immigrants into citizens: more than 85 percent of eligible permanent residents in Canada go on to become citizens.
  • As a result of these amendments, applicants will need to be physically present in Canada for a total of four out of their last six years. In addition, they would need to be physically present in Canada for 183 days per year for at least four of those six years.
  • The current citizenship fee does not reflect the actual processing cost. Changes will ensure applicants are responsible for more of the actual processing cost.

Quotes

Our government is strengthening the value of Canadian citizenship.  Canadians understand that citizenship should not be simply a passport of convenience. Citizenship is a pledge of mutual responsibility and a shared commitment to values rooted in our history. I am pleased to bring forward the first comprehensive and overdue reforms of the Citizenship Act in more than a generation.

Chris Alexander, Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister

Our government expects new Canadians to take part in the democratic life, economic potential and the rich cultural traditions that are involved in becoming a citizen. We are proud to introduce changes that reinforce the value of citizenship while ensuring the integrity of the immigration system is protected.

Chris Alexander, Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister

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For further information (media only), please contact:

Alexis Pavlich
Press Secretary
Office of Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister
613-954-1064

Media Relations
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
613-952-1650

CIC-Media-Relations@cic.gc.ca

Building a stronger Canada: Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) strengthens Canada’s economic, social and cultural prosperity, helping ensure Canadian safety and security while managing one of the largest and most generous immigration programs in the world.


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