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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 the government has amended the Citizenship Act to fast-track citizenship for permanent residents and foreign nationals serving in the CAF on exchange. Amendments also allow children born to those serving Canada abroad to pass on citizenship to their children.

The Government of Canada will also have the authority to revoke citizenship from dual citizens or deny access to citizenship to permanent residents who commit acts against Canada.

Fast-track citizenship for members of the Canadian Armed Forces

The new changes accelerate citizenship for permanent residents serving in the CAF as well as foreign nationals on exchange with the CAF. Members of the CAF and those on exchange with the CAF, who have served for one year less than the residence requirement, would qualify for a grant of citizenship provided that they meet all other requirements. 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 resulted in children born to Canadian parents outside Canada only being 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 amended Citizenship Act now extends the exception to the first generation limit to ensure the children of Crown servants can pass on citizenship. Specifically, this amendment ensures that children of Crown servants and members of the CAF who were born or adopted abroad while their Canadian 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.

Strengthening safeguards for adoptees

Under the new rules, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) will require that international adoptions completed in Canada are not done in a way that circumvents the Hague Convention on Intercountry 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. The language of the previous Citizenship Act did not adequately reflect that international adoption requirements must be met with respect to international adoptions completed in Canada.

Revoking or denying citizenship for terrorism, high treason, treason or spying, depending on the sentence

Amendments will enable the government to revoke Canadian citizenship from dual citizens and deny it to permanent residents who are convicted of terrorism, high treason, treason or spying offences, depending on the sentence. This measure underscores the government’s commitment to protecting the safety and security of Canadians and promoting Canadian interests and values. It also reinforces the value of Canadian citizenship. 

Amendments will also provide the authority 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 permanent residents for the same reasons.

Barring citizenship for foreign criminality and national security

Amendments will deny citizenship to criminals charged with or convicted of serious crimes outside Canada as well as criminals serving a sentence outside Canada. Previously, the Citizenship Act barred applicants from citizenship when they had been charged with or convicted of any indictable offence in Canada, or if they were serving a sentence in Canada. There was no such bar for foreign criminality. The amendments will expand the bar to include individuals who have been charged with or convicted of similar crimes abroad, in the four years preceding their application, from obtaining citizenship. Therefore, an individual will not be granted citizenship while subject to a foreign criminal proceeding, or for a conviction and sentence outside Canada. A ministerial discretion to waive exists for exceptional cases to ensure that applicants facing unfounded charges would not be permanently barred.

Moreover, the changes will 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. Under the old Act, refusal on security grounds was limited to cases where an applicant was going to engage in threat-related activities. Under the change, the Governor in Council will have the authority to deny citizenship in cases where a person “has, is or may engage” in threat-related activity. In these cases, applicants will be barred from reapplying for citizenship for ten years.

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