Changes to the Requirements for Citizenship

Since June 2017 a number of changes have been made to the Citizenship Act amending the requirements for Citizenship. These changes are being phased in in three stages. The first set of changes took effect on June 19, 2017. The second set of changes took effect on October 11, 2017, and the final set of changes are expected to take effect in early 2018.

The most significant of the changes that have effect to date include:

Physical Presence Requirement Reduced Applicants now must be physically present in Canada for 3 out of the 5 years before applying for citizenship.
Counting Physical Presence as Temporary Resident

Applicants may count each day they were physically present in Canada as a temporary resident or a protected person before becoming a permanent resident as a ½ day towards meeting the physical presence requirement for citizenship, up to a maximum credit of 365 days.

This means that for every two days spent in Canada as a temporary resident, one day will be counted toward the residency calculation to become eligible for Canadian citizenship. One can only claim up to 365 days or one year as a temporary resident in Canada. Temporary residents include visitors, students, workers, and temporary resident permit (TRP) holders.

Age Reduced Language & Knowledge Requirement

All Applicants between the ages of 18 and 54 must meet the language and knowledge requirements for citizenship.

Previously all Applicants between the ages of 14 and 64 had to meet the language and knowledge requirements for citizenship.

Canadian Income Tax Filing All Applicants must file Canadian income taxes, if required to do so under the Income Tax Act, for 3 out of the 5 years matching the new physical presence requirement.
Minors – Age Requirement Removed

The age requirement for citizenship has been removed.

Minor children can now apply for Citizenship without a Canadian parent. A legal guardian (person having custody of or empowered to act on behalf by court order or written agreement) can now apply for citizenship on behalf of the minor.

Conditional Sentence Individuals serving a conditional sentence will not be granted citizenship, allowed to take the Oath of Citizenship, or be able to count this time towards meeting the physical presence requirements for citizenship.
Intention to Reside Applicants are no longer required to intend to continue to live in Canada after they are granted citizenship.
Statelessness Statelessness is now a stand-alone ground for a discretionary grant of citizenship.

With the aforementioned changes, permanent residents will be eligible to apply for citizenship sooner than before. There are a number of benefits that come with citizenship including:

  • Not having to renew your Permanent Resident Card every 5 years
    • Currently Permanent Resident Card renewal applications are taking 2+ months to process which effectively means that permanent residents need to apply to renew their cards more often than every 5 years
    • A valid Permanent Resident Card is required to fly into Canada.
  • Not having to keep track of all travel outside of Canada
  • Being able to work, study or reside outside of Canada without worrying about compliance with residency obligations
  • Risk that permanent residency could be revoked or lost
    • Failure to meet the residency requirement can result in loss of permanent residence
    • Conviction for a serious crime can result in a revocation of citizenship
    • Refugees or protected persons who are seen to have availed themselves of the protection of their country of citizenship by returning for a visit or applying for a passport risk having their permanent resident status revoked
  • Permanent residents cannot vote or run for political office
  • Permanent residence cannot hold some jobs that require a high-level security clearance.

Should you wish to know more about applying for citizenship or your eligibility to apply for citizenship please contact us for a consultation. The lawyers of Capelle Kane are well versed in the Citizenship Act and its recent changes.