Admitting New Evidence at the Refugee Appeal Division

Section 110(4) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (“IRPA“) provides that at the Refugee Appeal Division (the “RAD“) a person may only present evidence that arose after the rejection of their claim or that was not reasonably available, or that the person could not reasonably have expected in the circumstances to have presented, at the time of the rejection.

Specifically, it states:

Evidence that may be presented

(4) On appeal, the person who is the subject of the appeal may present only evidence that arose after the rejection of their claim or that was not reasonably available, or that the person could not reasonably have been expected in the circumstances to have presented, at the time of the rejection.

Exception

(5) Subsection (4) does not apply in respect of evidence that is presented in response to evidence presented by the Minister.

Hearing

(6) The Refugee Appeal Division may hold a hearing if, in its opinion, there is documentary evidence referred to in subsection (3)

(a) that raises a serious issue with respect to the credibility of the person who is the subject of the appeal;

(b) that is central to the decision with respect to the refugee protection claim; and

(c) that, if accepted, would justify allowing or rejecting the refugee protection claim.

2001, c. 27, s. 110; 2010, c. 8, s. 13; 2012, c. 17, ss. 36, 84.

Continue reading “Admitting New Evidence at the Refugee Appeal Division”


Standard of Review in Refugee Appeal Division Hearings

On December 15, 2012, the Refugee Appeal Division (the “RAD“) began considering appeals against decisions from the Refugee Projection Division (the “RPD“) to allow or reject refugee claims.  According to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada’s website, the steps to a RAD appeal are:

  • Once you receive the written reasons for the decision from the Refugee Protection Division, you have 15 days to file a Notice of Appeal.
  • You have 30 days from the day you received your written reasons for the RPD decision to perfect your appeal by filing an Appellants Record.
  • The Minister may choose to intervene at any point in the appeal.
  • The RAD Member makes a decision on your appeal. In most cases, this decision will be provided to you no later than 90 days after you have perfected your appeal, unless an oral hearing is held.

Almost immediately there was uncertainty over what the role of the RAD was.  The RAD began operating under the assumption that it would review RPD decisions using the reasonableness standard, and its members began stating that the following principles governed its appeals:

  • that deference is owed to RPD findings of fact and questions of mixed law and fact;
  • that deference is owed to the RPD where the issue in a claim is factual;
  • that the role of the RAD was to ensure a fair and efficient adjudication and that refugee protection be granted where appropriate. As such, the RAD can substitute the RPD’s determination with its own;
  • that in some cases the RAD, in order to bring finality to the refugee process, may be entitled to show less deference to the RPD;
  • that while both the RPD and the RAD are specialized tribunals, the RPD had advantages in fact finding (particularly on credibility) which suggests deference; and
  • that the failure to show deference to the RPD would undermine the RPD’s process.

In Huruglica v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration Canada), 2014 FC 799 the Federal Court determined that this was an incorrect approach.

Continue reading “Standard of Review in Refugee Appeal Division Hearings”


The BC PNP Has Re-Opened with all New Programs

On July 2, 2015, the British Columbia Provincial Nomination Program (“BC PNP“) re-launched with new program requirements and processes.  The BC PNP remains divided into the Skills Immigration stream and the Entrepreneur Immigration stream.

The most significant changes to the BC PNP include:

  • Introducing an online application process with an electronic payment system;
  • Streamlining the Business Skills and Regional Business programs into one Entrepreneur Immigration stream based on an expression of interest model similar to Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s (“CIC”) Express Entry program;
  • Capping the intake in the Skills Immigration program to 200 new applications in 2015 (Express Entry BC, the Health Care Professionals Stream, and the North East Pilot Project are excluded from this cap);  and
  • Requiring in the Skilled Immigration Stream that applicants with job offers in National Occupational Classification (“NOC”) B positions pass an English language test.

Skills Immigration and Express Entry BC

The Skills Immigration is divided into the following substreams:

  • Skilled Worker
  • Health Care Professionals
  • International Graduates
  • International Post-Graduates
  • Entry Level and Semi-Skilled
  • North East Pilot Project

As well, the Express Entry BC stream is divided into the following substreams:

  • Skilled Worker
  • Health Care Professional
  • International Graduate
  • International Post-Graduate

Most of the requirements to the Skills Immigration streams and sub-streams remain largely unchanged. However, in addition to requiring that applicants apply online, the following are new program requirements:

  • In the Skilled Worker substream the BC PNP has clarified that “several years of directly related work experience” means two or more years;
  • The “Market Rate” for a position is based on an applicant’s employment and educational experience.  It is unclear whether this mean that the Low Rate on the Working in Canada website remains the threshold; and
  • Applicants with job offers in NOC B occupations must demonstrate English language proficiency at Canadian Language Benchmark (“CLB”) level 4.

The BC PNP will only be accepting 200 new Skills immigrant applications in 2015.  This limit does not apply to Express Entry BC, the Health Care Professional stream, or the Northeast Pilot Project.   New applications from individuals residing in Metro Vancouver are restricted to employment offers above the British Columbia median wage of $22.00 per hour.

Entrepreneur Immigration Stream

While the Skills Immigration Stream remains largely unchanged, the Entrepreneur Immigration Stream has been completely overhauled.

The Entrepreneur Immigration Stream is an expression of interest program similar to CIC’s Express Entry.  Applicants must register with the Entrepreneur Immigration Registration (“EIR”), and registrations will be ranked using a points system.  The highest scoring individuals in the EIR will be invited to apply to the Entrepreneur Immigration stream.  The BC PNP anticipates processing Entrepreneur Immigration Stream applications within 3 months.   Successful individuals will be required to enter into a Performance Agreement with the BC PNP stipulating time-frames for the completion of their business commitments.  Once the entrepreneur satisfies the terms of the Performance Agreement, the BC PNP will issue the individual a nomination certificate which can be used to apply for permanent residency.

It is important to note that the BC PNP will only accept a maximum of 200 registrations per month.

To submit an EIR, a prospective individual must meet the following requirements:

  • Be lawfully admitted in the country that they reside;
  • Not be inadmissible to Canada or have an unresolved refugee claim in Canada;
  • Have a personal net worth of $600,000.00;
  • Have either:
    • a minimum of more than three years experience as an active business owner-manager;
    • more than four years of experience as a senior manager; or
    • a combination of at least one year of experience as an active business owner-manager and at least two years of experience as a senior manager;
  • Have a minimum of two-years of post-secondary education or experience as an active business owner-manager with 100% ownership of the business for at least three of the past five years;

When registering for the BC PNP Entrepreneur Immigrant stream applicants will also need to submit short business concepts that will have to demonstrate that their proposed business meets several requirements, including:

  • that the business be an eligible business established either through starting a new business, purchasing an existing business, partnering with an existing business, or partnering with a local or foreign entrepreneur to establish a new business;
  • that the individual make an eligible personal investment of at least $200,000 in the proposed business (or $400,000 if a Key Staff member is proposed); and
  • that the business will create at least one permanent new full-time equivalent job for a Canadian citizen or permanent resident in the proposed business.

The BC PNP has introduced very stringent and complicated requirements regarding what constitutes an eligible personal investment that are extremely circumstance specific and beyond the scope of this update.

Scoring in the Entrepreneur Immigration pool is as follows:

Scoring Sections Points
    1. Experience 24
    2. Net Worth 12
    3. Personal Investment 30
    4. Jobs 36
    5. Adaptability 18
    6. Business Concept 80
Total Points Available 200

Experience points are calculated as follows:

Experience Total Duration Points
Business Owner-Manager Experience Less than 12 months 0
12 to 24 months 4
25 to 36 months 6
37 to 48 months 12
49 to 60 months 15
61 months or more 20
Senior Manager Work Experience Less than 24 months 0
24 to 48 months 4
49 to 60 months 8
61 months or more 12
The maximum score available for this section is 24.
The minimum points requirement is 8.
Individuals cannot get points for both Business Owner-Manager Experience and Senior Manager Work Experience, but rather have to choose.

Net worth points are scored as follows:

Personal Net Worth Points
Total Current Assets (cash and liquid funds) Less than $50,000 0
$50,000 to $199,999 1
$200,000 to $399,999 3
More than $400,000 6
Total Personal Net Worth Less than $600,000 0
$600,000 to $799,999 1
$800,000 to $1,999,999 3
$200,000,000 to $4,999,999 5
$5,000,000 or more 6
The maximum score available for this section is 12
The minimum points requirement for personal net worth is 1.

Eligible personal investment will be scored as follows:

Eligible Personal Investment Points
Less than $200,000 0
$200,000 to $399,999 6
$400,000 to $999,999 20
$1,000,000 or more 30
Applicants must score at least 6 points, or 20 points if they are proposing key staff, to meet the minimum requirement for this section.
The BC PNP will not consider as eligible any investment made prior to the date that an individual is invited to apply for nomination.

Jobs will be scored as follows:

Number of Full-time Equivalent  Job Positions Created and Maintained Points
Less than 1 0
1 2
2 6
3-4 12
5-6 20
7-8 28
9-10 32
11 or more 36
The maximum score available for this section is 36.
The applicant must score at least 2 points, or 12 if there is key staff.
The jobs created and maintained must pay wages that are consistent with the skill level of the position created

Adaptability will be scored as follows:

Factor Points
English language proficiency None or minimal, similar to CLB 3 and below 0
Basic understanding, similar to CLB  4 2
Intermediate and advanced, similar to CLB 5 and above 4
Education level Less than two years of post-secondary education 0
Two years or more of post-secondary education 3
Age Less than 20 0
21-39 3
40-60 4
61-64 2
65 or older 0
Business Exploratory Visits to British Columbia No 0
Yes, 1 or more years ago 1
Yes, less than 1 year ago 2
Canadian work experience, business experience, or studies from within Canada for at least 12 months No 0
Yes 5

The scoring for Business Concepts remains unclear.  12 points out of a possible 80 are based on the location of the proposed business as follows:

Population of BC Regional District Points
More than 500,000 people 0
200,000 to 500,000 1 point
100,00 to 200,000 3 points
70,000 to 100,000 6 points
60,000 to 70,000 8 points
35,000 to 60,000 10 points
Less than 35,000 people 12 points

The remaining 68 points are based on a variety of factors whose exact point allocation has not been released, and will be based on a 1,000 – 1,500 word business concept that EIR registrants must submit.  The points will be based on commercial viability, transferability of skills, and economic benefits.  Applicants must score a minimum of 32 points, based on what at this point appears to be an unpublished checklist.

As noted above, the highest ranking applicants in the EIR will be invited to apply for nomination. Those applicants that are invited to apply will need to engage a qualified supplier to review their personal net worth and accumulation funds as part of the nomination process.  Once the nomination is approved, the applicant and the BC PNP will enter into a Performance Agreement, and the entrepreneur can start their business.  The BC PNP will support the entrepreneur in a work permit application to facilitate this.

Once the entrepreneur completes the terms of the Performance Agreement, he/she can submit a Final Report to the BC PNP to be issued a nomination certificate.  The entrepreneur must demonstrate to the BC PNP that they:

  • are actively managing a business (i.e., be accountable for the day-to-day operations of the business) in British Columbia;
  • reside within 100 kilometers of the business;
  • have been physically present in British Columbia for at least 75% of the time that the individual was on a work permit; and
  • have complied with any other terms of their Performance Agreement.

The nomination certificate can then be used to support a permanent residency application.

[UPDATE – MARCH 21, 2016]

The BC PNP has published useful statistics on application intake in the new BC PNP Entrepreneur stream.  The results can be found here:

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CBSA Memorandums of Understanding

Many people are curious as to what information various police and government departments share with the Canada Border Services Agency.

Embedded below are the following documents:

  • Memorandum of Understanding Between the Abbotsford Police Department and the Canada Border Services Agency Pacific Region Enforcement Centre
  • Letter of Agreement for Immigration Detentions between the Canada Border Services Agency and BC Corrections
  • Memorandum of Understanding between the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority Police Service and the Canada Border Services Agency Pacific Region Enforcement Centre, including letter from Neil Dubord, Chief Officer, Transit Police dated 26 February 2015 terminating the MOU
  • Memorandum of Understanding Between the Royal Canadian Mountain Police “E” Division and the Canada Border Services Agency Pacific Region Enforcement Centre
  • Memorandum of Understanding Between the Vancouver Police Department and the Canada Border Services Agency Pacific Region Enforcement Centre

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LMO Exemption for Francophones (Coming Back June 1, 2016)

[Update – October 2, 2014 – Please note that CIC has terminated the LMIA exemption for Francophones]

On June 1, 2012, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC“) released Operational Bulletin 429 (“OB 429“).  OB 429 provides that francophones destined to a province other than Quebec who will be working in a high skilled occupation can receive two year significant benefit work permits.  The benefit of a significant benefit work permit is that no Labour Market Opinion (as of June 20, 2014, referred to as a Labour Market Impact Assessment (“LMIA“)) is required.

To qualify for the LMIA exemption, applicants must:

  • apply at a visa office outside Canada;
  • have been recruited through Destination Canada or other events coordinated with the federal government and francophone minority communities;
  • be going to work in an occupation which falls under National Occupation Classification 0, A or B;
  • have French as his/her habitual language; and
  • be destined to a province other than Quebec.
Importantly, the job itself does not have to require French.

Continue reading “LMO Exemption for Francophones (Coming Back June 1, 2016)”


The 2016 Liberal Immigration Numbers

On March 8, 2016, John McCallum, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC”) tabled the 2015 Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration (the “2015 IRCC Report”)  It states that in 2016 Canada will welcome between 280,000 and 305,000 immigrants, with a target of 300,000.  While this target if fulfilled would be Canada’s highest annual immigration number in over a century, not all immigration categories are being increased.

The 2015 IRCC Report reveals that 2016 will be a good year for the spouses and common-law partners of Canadians.  It also suggests that it will be a frustrating one for economic migrants, especially international graduates seeking to transition to permanent residency.

Before proceeding, it is important to note that while IRCC in the 2015 IRCC Report released a detailed breakdown of immigration statistics to Canada in 2014, it did not publish data for 2015.  As such, as of writing it is only possible to compare what the Liberal Government of Canada (the “Liberals”) is planning in 2016 with what the previous Conservative Government of Canada (the “Conservatives”) achieved in 2014, and what it planned in 2015.

Economic Immigration Programs

In 2016, Canada will accept between 54,000 to 58,400 immigrants in its federal economic immigration programs, which include the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Canadian Experience Class, and the Federal Skilled Trades Class.  This represents a significant reduction from the 62,487 individuals admitted through these programs in 2014, and an even greater reduction from the 68,000 to 74,000 immigrants that the previous Conservative Government of Canada targeted for these programs in 2015.  The practical consequence of this reduction will be that the threshold number of points that is required in IRCC’s Express Entry application intake management system to apply for permanent residency will remain higher in 2016 than many people would have hopped.

The unfortunate reality is that 2015 will remain a frustrating year for many potential economic migrants, especially international graduates, who were especially negatively impacted by the introduction of Express Entry and its comprehensive ranking system that treats foreign and Canadian degrees the same. Although the 2015 IRCC Report states that the Liberals are committed to exploring reforms to the Canadian Experience Class to reduce barriers to students, this vague statement will be of little comfort to international graduates who month after month in 2016 remain below the Invitation to Apply threshold because of the reduced economic immigration intake.

The 2016 IRCC Report states that in 2016 a further 46,000 to 48,000 immigrants will be admitted through the Provincial Nominee Program.  Prior to the release of the 2016 IRCC Report Minister McCallum stated that he would hand more control to the provinces over the selection of economic migrants. Provincial governments can be forgiven for wondering what happened.

The Liberal Government of Canada is also slightly reducing the number of spaces being made available for Caregivers, which includes the Live-in Caregiver Program, the High Medical Needs pathway and the Caring for Children stream.  They are also reducing the number of planned admissions in the Business Immigration programs, which should dash the hopes of those hoping for a return of the federal Immigrant Investor Program.

The overall result is that 2016 will likely be even a more difficult year than 2015 was for potential economic immigrants to Canada.  Obtaining a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment or an Express Entry provincial nomination will be more important than ever.

Family Class

On the other hand, the 2016 IRCC Report contains very good news for the spouses and common-law partners of Canadians.  The number of admissions in these streams will be between 57,000 to 62,000. This is a substantial increase from the 45,389 people admitted under this category in 2014, and the 45,000 – 48,000 that the previous Conservatives targeted in 2015.  Processing times will likely plummet, which will bring great relief to families that are either separated because of immigration or are in Canada and facing uncertainty.

On the other hand, the number of admittances through the parents and grandparent sponsorship programs will be surprisingly only be 18,000 – 20,000, which is about the same number as what IRCC under the Conservatives processed in 2014 and what it committed to process in 2015. The Liberals earlier this year boasted about increasing the cap of parent and grandparents that IRCC would accept into processing in 2016 from 5,000 to 10,000. By doubling the number of applications accepted into processing without increasing the actual number of admissions the only result can be slower processing times.

Refugees, Protected Persons, and Humanitarian Cases

By far the biggest change to Canadian immigration levels in 2016 will be the increase in the number of Refugees and Protected Persons.  In 2016 Canada will admit 51,000 to 57,000 Protected Persons and Refugees.  Of this, 24,000 to 25,000 will be Government Assisted Refugees, while 15,000 – 18,000 will be Privately Sponsored refugees. These levels are more than triple what they were in previous years.  The commitments are also high enough that IRCC should be able to go above and beyond the government’s commitment to resettling Syrian refugees, and to also help other displaced people.

Finally, the Liberals plan on admitting 2,800 – 3,600 to Canada as permanent residents through the humanitarian and compassionate (“H&C”) stream. This is a slight reduction from previous years.  Considering that the Supreme Court of Canada recently ordered that IRCC stop being so restrictive in its processing of these applications, it will be interesting to see if there is a resulting increase in H&C applications, and what sort of backlogs, if any, start to form.

Conclusion

Prior to releasing the 2015 Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration Minister McCallum told the media that immigration to Canada was a zero-sum game and that there would always need to be trade-offs.  Considering that Minister McCallum writes the rules to the game, it is difficult to understand why he could not maintain economic immigration levels to Canada.  These immigrants often already have jobs in Canada, speak one of Canada’s official languages, and are established.  Their tax dollars will likely help pay for the resettlement of the increased refugee intake.  The 2016 Liberal targets represent a 7% increase over last year’s immigration numbers. By not increasing this by only a further few percent, the government missed an opportunity to save thousands of people anguish, and to permanently welcome many deserving people as permanent residents.


Sponsoring Relatives other than Spouses, Parents, and Children

Section 117(1)(h) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (“IRPR“) provides that:

A foreign national is a member of the family class if, with respect to a sponsor, the foreign national is

a relative of the sponsor, regardless of age, if the sponsor does not have a spouse, a common-law partner, a conjugal partner, a child, a mother or father, a relative who is a child of that mother or father, a relative who is a child of a child of that mother or father, a mother or father of that mother or father or a relative who is a child of the mother or father of that mother or father

(i) who is a Canadian citizen, Indian or permanent resident, or

(ii) whose application to enter and remain in Canada as a permanent resident the sponsor may otherwise sponsor.

Traditionally, IRPR 117(1)(h) has been interpreted as stating that a Canadian may sponsor a relative only if they do not have any living spouses, children, or parents who they can sponsor.  However, the Federal Court in Sendwa v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration) has ruled that this is too restrictive.  It has found that the stated that the purpose and intent of paragraph 117(1)(h) of the IRPR is “to favour persons who do not have relations in Canada and have no possibility to sponsor any relations under other provisions.”  It went on to state:

In the present case, the IAD held that the Applicant’s application was rejected simply because her parents were alive. The IAD did not consider whether the Applicant would (even) be eligible (or in position) to sponsor her parents. As a result, the IAD’s decision is unreasonable.

As such, admissibility and eligibility considerations are now a factor in determining eligibility for IRPR 117(1)(h) applications.


Bill C-6 – How the Liberals are Changing Canadian Citizenship Law

On February 25, 2016, the Liberal Government of Canada introduced Bill C-6, An Act to Amend the Citizenship Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act (“Bill C-6”).  Bill C-6 was highly anticipated as during the 2015 election campaign the Liberal Party of Canada (the “Liberals”) made repealing portions of the then Conservative Government of Canada’s Bill C-24, The Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act, one of the key pillars of their election platform.  Specifically, the Liberals promised to repeal the provisions of Bill C-24 that provided the Canadian government the ability to revoke the citizenship of certain citizens for national security concerns, to re-allow international students to count as half-days the time that they spent in Canada studying towards the residency requirement to apply for citizenship, and to eliminate the requirement that new Canadian citizens declare that they intend to reside in Canada.  The overall theme that the Liberals stressed during the campaign was that they would make it easier for “hard-working” immigrants to become Canadian citizens.

Bill C-6 goes beyond the Liberals’ specific promises listed above while remaining true to their campaign theme.  Bill C-6 amends many additional aspects of Canada’s Citizenship Act, including reducing the time that it takes for permanent residents to become eligible to apply for citizenship and reinstating the language and knowledge test exemptions that existed prior to Bill C-24.  Ultimately, however, if Bill C-6 is the final change that the Liberal Government of Canada makes to Canadian citizenship legislation, then it cannot be said that the Liberals are repealing Bill C-24, let alone undoing all of the Conservative Party of Canada’s (the “Conservatives”) changes to Canadian citizenship law.

What Stays The Same

As is often the case the changes to legislation that impact the greatest number of people are often the least discussed.  Arguably the most significant Bill C-24 change that the Liberals are maintaining is the transfer of responsibility for decision making in routine citizenship applications from citizenship judges to bureaucrats.  When the Conservatives introduced Bill C-24 they noted that this transfer would increase the number of decision makers in citizenship applications from 30 to more than 450.  This reform, combined with the 2013 federal budget allocation of $44,000,000.00 to reduce citizenship processing times, has caused citizenship application processing times to plummet.  The Liberals in Bill C-6 have made it easier for permanent residents to become eligible to apply for citizenship.  If processing times do not skyrocket as more people apply, it will likely be because of this change.

As well, Bill C-6 maintains the “physical presence” standard for calculating residency when determining whether a permanent resident has spent sufficient time in Canada to apply for citizenship.  Prior to Bill C-24, the Citizenship Act required that permanent residents be resident in Canada for a prescribed period, but did not define residency.  While most citizenship judges assumed that residency required physical presence in Canada, some citizenship judges determined that it did not require actual presence in Canada, but that residency could rather be established by demonstrating substantial ties to Canada while abroad.  Under the Liberals, “physical presence” will remain the prescribed requirement for calculating residency, and prospective citizenship applicants will continue to be unable to request that their time spent outside Canada should count towards the residency requirement.

Bill C-6 also maintains Bill C-24’s introduction of a connection between the filing of Canadian income taxes and eligibility for citizenship.  Specifically, Bill C-6 mandates that to apply for Canadian citizenship permanent residents must have met any applicable requirement under Canada’s Income Tax Act to file a return of income in respect of three taxation years that are fully or partially within the five years immediately preceding the date of application.

Somewhat surprisingly, the Liberals are also maintaining the Conservative changes to how the Government of Canada revokes the citizenship of Canadians who obtained their citizenship through fraud.  Prior to Bill C-24, the Federal Court of Canada had to agree with what is now the Ministry of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC”) that a citizen had obtained their citizenship through fraud.  Then, the Governor in Council (which is the Governor General acting on the advice of the federal cabinet) was responsible for actually revoking the individual’s Canadian citizenship.  Bill C-24 streamlined the process so that a single IRCC bureaucrat would both determine whether there was fraud and whether citizenship would be revoked.  No hearing is required and citizenship revocation proceedings for fraud are generally now conducted by mail.  The only recourse for citizens who lose their citizenship is to apply for judicial review, where they may not submit any new evidence that they did not provide to IRCC.  Judicial review only occurs after they have already lost their citizenship.  There are currently over 10,000 revocation investigations and proceedings underway, and these provisions of Bill C-24 are the subject of numerous constitutional challenges under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the “Charter”).  Because the Liberals have maintained the revocation provisions they will presumably defend them in court, and own any Charter defeats, should they occur.

Finally, Bill C-6 maintains the one generation limitation on citizenship by descent.  Most people are aware that if they are born outside of Canada to a Canadian parent that they are a Canadian citizen.  What is less known, however, is that since 2009 citizenship by descent is limited to one generation born abroad, with the objective being to prevent the creation of a huge Canadian diaspora that has never lived in Canada and has minimal ties to Canada beyond passports.  Although the limitation was controversial when it was introduced, it appears to have survived the passage of time and the change in government.

What Changes

Bill C-6 fulfils all of the campaign promises that the Liberals made during the 2015 federal election.

It repeals the portions of Bill C-24 that created a ground of citizenship revocation for citizens who commit actions that are contrary to the national interest of Canada, including terrorism, high treason, certain treason or spying offences, or membership in an armed force or organized arm group engaged in armed conflict with Canada. Contrary to what both the Government of Canada and the media often stated, this revocation ground does not apply to only dual nationals, but to anyone who would not be rendered stateless by the revocation.  As well, under Bill C-24 it is not a court that revokes the citizenship of a Canadian, but an IRCC bureaucrat.  Bill C-6’s repeal of this revocation provision has generated considerable media attention, and the issue of whether citizenship should be revoked for those who commit terrorism is not limited to Canada. At the same time that the House of Commons will now be debating repealing this ability, Britain’s Conservative government and France’s Socialist government have both respectively passed and introduced legislation in their countries that would allow the government to strip dual citizens convicted of terrorism of their citizenship.   Indeed, Britain is considering extending its revocation provisions to include revocation for serious criminality, which will only affirm the concerns of Canadians who, while they have no love for terrorists, fear a slippery slope.

While Bill C-6’s repeal of Bill C-24’s national interest revocation provisions will in practice affect only a small number of people, other changes will impact all permanent residents who wish to apply for Canadian citizenship.  Arguably the most significant change in Bill C-6 is the reduction in time that it will take permanent residents to be eligible to apply for Canadian citizenship.  Prior to Bill C-24, permanent residents could apply for Canadian citizenship if they spent the three years out of the four years immediately prior to submitting their application resident in Canada.  Bill C-24 changed this to a “four years out of six” physical presence standard.  Some thought that the Bill C-24 standard was harder because more years were required.  Others thought that it was easier because the overall percentage of time that permanent residents had to spend in Canada was lower.  Bill C-6 introduces a “three years out of five” physical presence standard, which is both a lower number of total days and a lower percentage of time spent in Canada than what is currently required.

As well, Bill C-6 reinstates the half-day credit for the time that a permanent resident spent in Canada prior to becoming a permanent resident, up to a maximum credit of one-year.  As such, if a temporary foreign worker spends two years in Canada on a work permit, and then immediately after becomes a permanent resident, then he would be eligible to apply for Canadian citizenship after two years of being physically present in Canada as a permanent resident.

Bill C-6 also repeals the additional Bill C-24 residency requirement that in addition to permanent residents having to spend four years out of six during the six year period preceding their citizenship application present in Canada, that they also have to have been physically present in Canada for at least 183 days during each of four calendar years that were fully or partially within the six years immediately before the date of their application.  The Conservatives introduced this requirement to ensure that people who were eligible for Canadian citizenship were also tax residents of Canada.  However, it in effect penalized people who immigrated to Canada after June of a given calendar year, as they could not count any of that time towards meeting this requirement.

As also promised, the Liberals are repealing Bill C-24’s “intention to reside” provision.  This requires that all adult citizenship applicants declare in their citizenship applications that they intend to continue to reside in Canada if granted citizenship.  While the Conservatives presumably introduced this requirement to address the issue of some citizenship applicants leaving Canada for almost the entire duration of the processing of their citizenship applications, only returning to take the citizenship test and oath, and then permanently leaving Canada again once they get their Canadian passports, the intent to reside provision appeared contrary to the Charter’s mobility provisions, which provides as a constitutional right that all Canadian citizens can leave Canada.  A government asking future citizens to agree to not exercise a Charter right seems disquieting at best.

Bill C-6 will also reset the language and knowledge requirement so that all citizenship applicants who are aged 18-54, rather than 14-64 as required by the Conservatives, must pass a language exam and take the knowledge test.  Prior to the introduction of Bill C-6 some speculated that the Liberals might abolish the language test requirement altogether. This did not occur.

Finally, it should be noted that not all Bill C-24 changes will make it easier for permanent residents to acquire citizenship.  Currently, permanent residents who are either in jail or on probation are prohibited from both taking the citizenship oath and counting that time towards their residency requirement.  Bill C-6 extends this prohibition and restriction to those serving conditional sentences.

Conclusion

As noted at the outset of this article, Bill C-6 fulfils all of the Liberal 2015 election campaign promises regarding Canadian citizenship law.  They have achieved this mainly by tweaking many of the Conservative changes without actually repealing most of them.

Indeed, based on introduced legislation to date, on the issue of obtaining Canadian citizenship, the Liberals and the Conservatives do not appear to have fundamental differences.  Both agree that there should be a physical presence in Canada requirement in order to apply for Canadian citizenship, and the difference between a “three years out of five” standard instead of a “four years out of six” one is not very significant, especially when compared with many other countries.  Both parties also agree that there should be a connection between filing tax returns and eligibility for citizenship, and that the majority of citizenship applicants should demonstrate an ability to communicate in one of Canada’s two official languages, as well as pass a knowledge test.  As well, both the Conservatives, and apparently the Liberals, believe that bureaucrats rather than courts should be the decision makers in citizenship revocation for fraud, and that there should be limitations to citizenship by descent.

Where there is a fundamental difference between the Liberals and the Conservatives, however, is whether the citizenship of someone who commits an action contrary to Canada’s national security or interest should be revocable.  Bill C-24 provided IRCC bureaucrats with the ability to repeal the citizenship of Canadians for such reasons.    While the Liberals could have simply amended the Citizenship Act so that it was a court rather than a bureaucrat who made the revocation decision, the Liberals instead abolished the ability altogether.  By doing so, they have drawn a clear dividing line on a fundamental values issue that will likely become the focus point of Parliament’s consideration of Bill C-6.

As noted above, citizenship revocation for national interest and security concerns is an issue that is being debated in numerous countries. How one feels about this Bill C-6 change, and the other changes to Canada’s Citizenship Act, will depend on what one thinks being a Canadian citizen should mean in a globalized world where people often have multiple citizenships.  To some, being a Canadian citizen is a fundamental part of their identity, and to many immigrants becoming a Canadian citizen is a life changing event.  To others, Canadian citizenship is simply the ability to obtain a Canadian passport, which can serve as a quasi-insurance policy to those living abroad should they ever need to leave their countries on short notice and be guaranteed admittance to Canada.  To some, Canadian citizenship is a right. As Prime Minister Trudeau has said, “a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian,” and any laws that create the possibility for citizenship revocation other than for immigration and citizenship fraud would result in two-tier citizenship. To others, Canadian citizenship is a privilege.  Those who commit acts that threaten Canada have fundamentally severed the social contract between the citizen and country, and have even committed a de-facto renunciation of their citizenship.

What citizenship means has been a philosophical debate with real life implications that has existed since at least when Aristotle wrote The Politics.  In 2012, a whopping 83% of Canadians believed that the state should be able to revoke the citizenship of those who commit acts of treason and terrorism against Canada.  It will be interesting to see if and how much this changes as debate over Bill C-6 unfolds, and whether Canadians possibly redefine what they think citizenship is, what the requirements should be to get it, and how easy it should be to lose.