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.Read more ›
Any Canadian citizen may apply for a citizenship certificate.
The application package can be found on the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC“) website here.
The current standard processing time is 5 months. If someone lives outside Canada or the United States, and has applied through a Canadian embassy, high commission or consulate, it may take an additional 2 to 4 months beyond the estimated processing times to process your application. The CIC website does list ways to expedite processing.
We have below reproduced CIC’s internal master checklist for citizenship certificate applications in the hopes that this will help you structure your application in a way that allows CIC to process it as fast as possible.Read more ›
Canadian citizenship law provides that a person is generally a Canadian citizen if they are born in Canada. Since 1952, however, there has been an exception to those who are born in Canada if neither of the child’s parents are Canadian citizens or permanent residents and if either parent was, at the time of the child’s birth:
- a diplomatic or consular officer or other representative or employee in Canada of a foreign government;
- an employee in the service of one of the people listed above; or
- an officer or employee of a specialized agency of the United Nations or an officer or employee in Canada of any other international organization who benefits from diplomatic privileges and immunities in Canada.
(While the precise wording has changed over time, the above restrictions have remained more or less consistent.)
Diplomatic Immunity is Critical
In Vavilov v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration Canada), 2017 FCA 132, the Federal Court of Appeal answered the following certified question:
Are the words “other representative or employee of a foreign government in Canada” found in paragraph 3(2)(a) of the Citizenship Act limited to foreign nationals who benefit from diplomatic privileges and immunities?
The Federal Court of Appeal answered in the affirmative. In doing so, it found that the reason why Canadian citizenship law prohibits the children of diplomats from becoming Canadian citizens at birth is because persons who have diplomatic privileges and immunities do not have duties and responsibilities to Canada and are not subject to all Canadian laws.
The Vavilov case, which as of writing is currently before the Supreme Court of Canada, is an interesting one,Read more ›
Until recently, the Government of Canada adopted a very aggressive approach regarding the initiation of cessation applications against permanent residents who are protected persons. The reason is because since 2012 people who lose their protected person status for any of the following reasons also lose their permanent resident status:
- the person has voluntarily re-availed himself or herself of the protection of their country of nationality;
- the person has voluntarily reacquired their nationality;
- the person has acquired a new nationality and enjoys the protection of that new nationality; and
- the person has voluntarily become re-established in the country that the person left before claiming refugee status in Canada.
Several permanent residents with citizenship applications in processing have been affected by cessation applications. In Godinez Ovalle v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), the Federal Court rather bluntly told both Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC“) and the Canada Border Services Agency (“CBSA“) that they were out of line, and even called their approach “inhumane.”
Ultimately, however, the Federal Court of Appeal in 2017 determined that IRCC can indeed suspend the processing of citizenship applications while cessation proceedings are underway.Read more ›
Some of the more controversial sections of Bill C-24, The Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act (“Bill C-24”), are its revocation provisions.
Bill C-24 will create a new s. 10(2) of the Citizenship Act which will state that:
Revocation by Minister — convictions relating to national security
(2) The Minister may revoke a person’s citizenship if the person, before or after the coming into force of this subsection and while the person was a citizen,(a) was convicted under section 47 of the Criminal Code of treason and sentenced to imprisonment for life or was convicted of high treason under that section;
(b) was convicted of a terrorism offence as defined in section 2 of the Criminal Code — or an offence outside Canada that, if committed in Canada, would constitute a terrorism offence as defined in that section — and sentenced to at least five years of imprisonment;
(c) was convicted of an offence under any of sections 73 to 76 of the National Defence Act and sentenced to imprisonment for life because the person acted traitorously;
(d) was convicted of an offence under section 78 of the National Defence Act and sentenced to imprisonment for life;
(e) was convicted of an offence under section 130 of the National Defence Act in respect of an act or omission that is punishable under section 47 of theCriminal Code and sentenced to imprisonment for life;
(f) was convicted under the National Defence Act of a terrorism offence as defined in subsection 2(1) of that Act and sentenced to at least five years of imprisonment;Read more ›
On February 28, 2015, the Government of Canada announced in the Canada Gazette that it would begin enhanced information sharing between Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC”) and the Canada Revenue Agency (“CRA“). To many representatives who have been stunned at how many people can seemingly get away with reporting different information to the two government departments this is welcome news.Read more ›
The authors of Free People Search have posted the following graphic on their website which provides a useful overview of numerous countries’ “citizenship by descent” law.
A previous post of mine which discusses the limitations on citizenship by descent in Canada can be found here.Read more ›
On February 6, 2014 the Government of Canada introduced Bill C-24, The Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act. If passed, Bill C-24 will significantly change the requirements for Canadian citizenship. Prospective citizenship applicants who may not meet the new requirements once Bill C-24 passes are encouraged to apply for Canadian citizenship as soon as possible. The new residency provisions described below will come into effect on June 11, 2015.
The following is a summary of the main changes that the Government of Canada is introducing.
Residence and other Basic Requirements
Under Canada’s current system, a permanent resident can apply for Canadian citizenship if he/she has resided in Canada for three out of the four years preceding the citizenship application. Because the definition of “residence” is not defined, it has been possible for permanent residents who have not been physically present in Canada for three out of four years to obtain citizenship if they could show substantial ties to Canada.
As well, each day that an applicant lawfully resides in Canada before becoming a permanent resident counts as a half-day towards the residency requirement. This means that many people can apply for citizenship 2 years after obtaining permanent resident status.
Finally, Canada’s current citizenship requirements do not require permanent residents to have an “intention to reside in Canada” once they are granted citizenship. Indeed, it is not uncommon for citizenship applicants to apply for citizenship and then leave Canada during the entirety of the processing of their application.
Under the proposed system, a permanent resident will be able to apply for Canadian citizenship if he/she has been physically present in Canada for four out of the six years preceding the citizenship application, rather than three out of four. Applicants will also be required to have a minimum of 183 days of physical presence per year in four out of the six years preceding the application.Read more ›
On September 20, 2013, Justice Edward Morgan of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice (the “ONSC“) released his decision in McAteer et al v. Attorney General of Canada, 2013 ONSC 5895 (“McAteer“). McAteer involved a constitutional challenge to the citizenship oath requirement on the grounds that the requirement violates the constitutional protections of freedom of expression, freedom of religion, and equality that are found in The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the “Charter“). Ultimately, while the ONSC determined that the citizenship oath requirement does indeed violate s. 2(b) of the Charter‘s right to freedom of expression, the ONSC ultimately found that the breach was justified under the reasonable limits test under s. 1. The ONSC also held that the citizenship oath requirement does not breach either s. 2(a) or 15 of the Charter, which protect freedom of religion and equality.
In reaching its decision, the ONSC interpreted the citizenship oath’s references to the queen in a very different way than I think most people do. It is this interpretation that is going to be the subject of this blog post, as I think the McAteer decision can provide some meaning and significance to potential oath takers. (For those interested in reading a summary of how Justice Morgan analysed the Charter challenges, including his application of the Oakes test, I suggest you read this wonderfuly concise 12 paragraph summary.)
The Citizenship Oath
Section 3(1)(c) of the Citizenship Act, RSC 195, c C-29 (the “Citizenship Act“), provides that:
Subject to this Act, a person is a citizen if the person has been granted or acquired citizenship pursuant to section 5 or 11 and,Read more ›
I have received several questions about whether Jason Kenney is breaking international law by revoking peoples’ Canadian citizenship. Specifically, many readers want to know whether international legal norms permit a country to render someone stateless.
For those who are not familiar with the term “statelessness,” it refers to individuals who are not a citizen of any country.
The question arises because presumably some of the people who are the subject of citizenship revocation proceedings are only citizens of Canada, and not of other nations.
The 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness is the treaty that governs statelessness in the case of non-refugees. It articulates international legal principles governing the interaction between states and the conferral and revocation of citizenship to people residing within the state. Canada ratified the treaty on July 17, 1978.
Article 8 of the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness provides that:
1. A Contracting State shall not deprive a person of its nationality if such deprivation would render him stateless.
2. Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph 1 of this Article, a person may be deprived of the nationality of a Contracting State:
(a) [where a person resides abroad for a period of seven consecutive years and fails to declare an intention to retain nationality or if the person is born outside the state and does not reside within the state within 1 year of obtaining the age of majority];
(b) where the nationality has been obtained by misrepresentation or fraud.
3. Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph 1 of this Article,Read more ›
Please note that none of the information on this website should be construed as being legal advice. As well, you should not rely on any of the information contained in this website when determining whether and how to apply to a given program. Canadian immigration law is constantly changing, and the information above may be dated. If you have a question about the contents of this blog, or any question about Canadian immigration law, please contact the Author.
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