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

1st Mar 2016 Comments Off on Bill C-6 – How the Liberals are Changing Canadian Citizenship Law

Last updated on June 25th, 2018

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.

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Citizenship Certificates

21st Nov 2015 Comments Off on Citizenship Certificates

Last updated on November 29th, 2018

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.

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Suspending Citizenship Applications Due to Cessation Hearings

5th Aug 2015 Comments Off on Suspending Citizenship Applications Due to Cessation Hearings

Last updated on May 31st, 2019

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:

  1. the person has voluntarily re-availed himself or herself of the protection of their country of nationality;
  2. the person has voluntarily reacquired their nationality;
  3. the person has acquired a new nationality and enjoys the protection of that new nationality; and
  4. 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.

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Revocation and Statelessness after Budlakoti

9th Jun 2015 Comments Off on Revocation and Statelessness after Budlakoti

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;

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World Citizenship by Descent

11th Jun 2014 Comments Off on World Citizenship by Descent

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.

Second Passport

A previous post of mine which discusses the limitations on citizenship by descent in Canada can be found here.

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Canada to Change Citizenship Requirements

8th Feb 2014 Comments Off on Canada to Change Citizenship Requirements

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. 

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Ontario Superior Court upholds Constitutionality of Citizenship Oath Requirement

29th Sep 2013 Comments Off on Ontario Superior Court upholds Constitutionality of Citizenship Oath Requirement

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,

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Changes to Language Requirements

20th Apr 2012 Comments Off on Changes to Language Requirements

New Language Requirements for Citizenship and PNP Applications

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC”) has introduced new language requirements for citizenship applications and certain provincial nominee applications.  For citizenship applications, the changes will introduce objective language requirements for most applicantions.  For certain provincial nominee program (“PNP”) applications, the changes will introduce mandatory language testing.

The Citizenship Langugage Requirements  

Applicants for Canadian citizenship are required to demonstrate that they have an adequate knowledge of either English or French.  Currently, this is done through a multiple choice written test known as the Citizenship Exam, which also tests knowledge of Canada and the responsibilities of citizenship.

On April 21, 2012, the Government of Canada introduced regulatory changes that when they take affect will require that citizenship applicants enclose proof that they meet the language requirement with their citizenship application.  Acceptable means of proof will include:

  • A language test result from an authorized testing agency;
  • Evidence of completion of secondary or post-secondary education in English or French; or
  • Evidence of completion and achievement of a certain level in a government-funded language training program.

Applicants submitting test results from an authorized testing agency will have to achieve a minimum standard of Canadian Language Benchmark (“CLB”) 4 in English or Niveaux de comeptence linguistique canadiens (“NCLC”) level 4 in French.  The areas that will be tested are speaking and listening.  For those familiar with the International English Language Testing System (“IELTS”), currently required for many permanent residence applications, this translates into a 4 in each category.

Applicants who provided mandatory language testing results as part of their permanence residence applications can submit those test results with their citizenship application, and will not be required to be re-tested.

The change will affect all adult citizenship applicants between the ages of 18 and 54.

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Wilfred Laurier on Immigration [Updated – Correction]

14th Apr 2012 Comments Off on Wilfred Laurier on Immigration [Updated – Correction]

The above picture of Wilfred Laurier, a former Prime Minister of Canada and member of the Liberal Party of Canada, is currently making the rounds on the internet accompanied by his famous passage:

In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes a Canadian and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person’s becoming in every facet a Canadian, and nothing but a Canadian… There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is a Canadian, but something else also, isn’t a Canadian at all. We have room for but one flag, the Canadian flag… And we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the Canadian people.

People that are spreading this and citing this passage about undivided loyalty with fervour are I’m sure thinking of immigrants from certain countries with value systems very different to ours.  However, I wonder if they have actually considered the policy implication of the above passage – which is obviously whether Canada should ban its citizens from being dual (or triple) citizens?

What do you think?  Should Brett Hull, Kaya Jones, John Aimers, Peter Jennings, Megan Follows, Brian Burke, Jim Carrey, etc. have to choose?

And, if you believe in what Mr. Laurier said, do we not have room in Canada for the above individuals?

[UPDATE]

As was recently pointed out to me, in attributing the above quote and picture to Wilfred Laurier I fell for a popular myth circulating in certain circles.

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When an Administrative Delay is an Abuse of Process

12th May 2011 Comments Off on When an Administrative Delay is an Abuse of Process

Last updated on June 13th, 2019

The subject unreasonable delays often arise in the immigration context.  In one case that I was previously involved with, an individual was in Canada for 11-years before the Canada Border Services Agency expressed concerns that he might be inadmissible to Canada for previous involvement in a group accused of terrorism.  In another case, an individual who had been in and out of Canada numerous times was suddenly denied entry to Canada because of a criminal conviction that occurred eight years ago.  In both cases, the client asked whether the delay amounted to an abuse of process, and if so, what the remedy was.

As the Federal Court of Appeal noted in Mahjoub v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), 2017 FCA 157, the Federal Court of Canada has the jurisdiction to issue a permanent stay of proceedings, and less drastic measures, as a result of an abuse of process.  It is less clear whether the Immigration and Refugee Board can issue stays of proceeding for delays.  In Canada (Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness) v. Najafi, 2019 FC 594, Associate Chief Justice Gagné held that it does, but certified the following question:

Do the Immigration Division and the Immigration Appeal Division of the Immigration and Refugee Board have the jurisdiction to grant a permanent stay of proceedings based on an abuse of process on the basis of a delay which is alleged to have occurred following the signing of the s. 44(1) report and/or s. 44(2) referral?

Blencoe v. British Columbia

The leading Supreme Court of Canada decision on this issue is Blencoe v. British Columbia, 2000 SCC 44 .

In Blencoe,

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