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Archived - Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act: Protecting and promoting Canada's interests and values

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The Government of Canada recognizes the importance of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and Crown servants working abroad and their commitment to defending the values and interests of Canada. This is why new legislation to amend the Citizenship Act would fast-track citizenship for permanent residents (PRs) and individuals on exchange who are serving Canada in the CAF and allow children born to those serving Canada abroad to pass on citizenship to their children. It would also take citizenship away from dual citizens or deny citizenship for PRs who commit certain offences against Canada’s national interests.

Fast-track citizenship for members of the Canadian Armed Forces

Bill C-24 would accelerate citizenship for PRs and individuals on exchange who are serving Canada in the CAF by reducing the qualifying period for citizenship by one year. This measure honours the important contributions of those who serve our country.

Citizenship by descent

The government has been working hard to maintain the integrity of Canada’s generous immigration system and to strengthen the value of Canadian citizenship. That is why the Citizenship Act was amended in 2009 to limit—with a few exceptions—citizenship by descent to one generation born outside Canada.

This means that children born to Canadian parents outside Canada would only be Canadian at birth if:

  • one parent was born in Canada; or
  • one parent became a Canadian citizen by immigrating to Canada and was later granted citizenship (also called naturalization).

The Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act proposes to extend the exception to the first generation limit to children of Crown servants. This amendment would ensure that children of Crown servants and members of the CAF who were born or adopted abroad while their parent(s) was (were) serving a federal, provincial or territorial government abroad are not negatively affected by their parents’ service to Canada, and that they are able to pass on Canadian citizenship to any children they may have or adopt abroad. 

Revoke or deny citizenship of those who commit acts of terrorism or acts against Canadian interests

In an effort to reinforce the value of Canadian citizenship, proposed amendments would enable the government to revoke Canadian citizenship from dual citizens for membership in an armed force or organized armed group engaged in armed conflict with Canada, and deny it to PRs for the same reasons. 

It would also provide authority to revoke Canadian citizenship from dual citizens and deny it to PRs who are convicted of terrorism, high treason, treason or spying offences, depending on the sentence. This measure would underscore the government’s commitment to protecting the safety and security of Canadians and promoting Canadian interests and values.

Strengthening safeguards for adoptees

The language of the current Citizenship Act does not adequately reflect that international adoption requirements must be met with respect to international adoptions completed in Canada. Under the new rules, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) would require that these adoptions are not done in a way that circumvents the Hague Convention on Inter-country Adoption, where it applies, or other legal and procedural requirements for inter-country adoptions, such as laws of the adopted child’s country of origin before citizenship is granted. 

Barring citizenship for foreign criminality and national security

Proposed amendments would deny citizenship to criminals charged with or convicted of serious crimes outside Canada as well as criminals serving a sentence outside Canada. Currently, the Citizenship Act bars applicants from citizenship when they have been charged with or convicted of any indictable offence in Canada, or if they are serving a sentence in Canada. There is no such bar for foreign criminality. Bill C-24 would expand the bar to include individuals who have been charged with or convicted of similar crimes abroad from obtaining citizenship. Therefore, an individual would not be granted citizenship while subject to a foreign criminal proceeding, or for a conviction and sentence outside Canada. A ministerial waiver would exist for exceptional cases to ensure that applicants facing unfounded charges would not be permanently barred.

Moreover, the changes would strengthen CIC’s ability to refuse citizenship to individuals who pose a security risk bringing the Citizenship Act more closely in line with the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and strengthen CIC’s ability to refuse citizenship to individuals who pose a security risk. Currently, refusal on security grounds is limited to cases where an applicant “will” engage in threat-related activities. Under the change, the Governor in Council could deny citizenship in cases where a person “has, is or may engage” in threat-related activity. Applicants would be barred from reapplying for citizenship for ten years.

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