A blog about U.S. immigration matters by Paul Szeto, a former INS attorney and an experienced immigration attorney and counsel. Contact Info: 732-632-9888, http://www.1visa1.com/ (All information is not legal advice and is subject to change without prior notice.)

Thursday, July 9, 2015

4-Year Residence Required for Canadian Citizenship Under New Rules

New rules affecting the process of applying for Canadian citizenship went into effect on June 11, 2015.  These reform changes, aimed at strengthening citizenship laws, make it much harder and more expensive to become a Citizen of Canada. Below is a brief outline of the changes, as well as important information for current and future citizenship applicants: 

Key Changes (effective June 11, 2015):

  • The new rules require the applicants to be: living in Canada for 4 years (1,460 days) out of 6 years for citizenship eligibility; Physically present in Canada for 183 days (minimum) per year in 4 out of 6 years.
  • Adult applicants must declare their intent to reside in Canada once they become citizens and meet personal income tax obligations in order to be eligible for citizenship.
  • Applicants between the ages of 14 and 64 must meet a knowledge requirement in English or French (cannot use an interpreter) and must pass the citizenship test. 
  • Citizenship will be automatically extended to additional “Lost Canadians” who were born before 1947, and did not become citizens on January 1, 1947 when the first Canadian Citizenship Act came into effect. This will also apply to their children born in the first generation outside Canada.
  • As of June 11, 2015, the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) will only accept the new application forms, which will be available on the CIC website (http://www.cic.gc.ca/). Applications that were received on or after June 11, 2015 that do not use the latest version of the application will be considered incomplete and will be returned. Incomplete applications that were returned prior to June 11, 2015 must be resubmitted using the new application forms. 
  • To help the program implemented, Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC) has been newly designated as the regulatory body for citizenship consultants. Only members of the ICCRC, lawyers or notaries (including paralegals and students at law) can be paid to provide citizenship applicants with representation or advice.
  • There are now stronger penalties for fraud and misrepresentation (to a maximum fine of $100,000 and/or up to five years in prison). 
  • The CIC Minister can decide to grant citizenship on a discretionary basis. 
  • Citizenship can be revoked or denied if the applicant is: a dual citizen or a permanent resident in Canada; AND a member of an armed force or an organized armed group engaged in armed conflict with Canada; AND/OR convicted of terrorism, high treason, treason, or spying offences, depending on the sentence received.

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