Chris Alexander, Canada’s Citizenship and immigration Minister proposed sweeping changes to the Citizenship Act since 1977, it is being called the first comprehensive reorganization to the Citizenship Act in more than a generation.
As per the Conservative government’s Bill C-24, named as strengthening the Canada Citizenship Act, people applying for citizenship must live in Canada long before applying. After the bill is tabled in Parliament, Chris Alexander, Citizenship and Immigration minister, told press reporters that ‘Citizenship is not a right, it is a privilege.’
Permanent residents must live in Canada for 4 years out of the last 6 years, as a replacement for the current 3 years out of 4 years. Adults applying for citizenship will have to submit their filed Canadian income taxes. Persons aged 14 to 16 have to pass the official language test and meet the citizenship requirements. Currently, only people aged 18 to 54 need to undergo such procedure.
The newly proposed Act will allow the citizenship officer to make decisions on applications and will streamline the application process. Currently citizenship judges can only make decisions in the application process.
With the current process backlog standing at 3,20,000 application, the proposed Act will help reduce large accumulation of applications. It is estimated that the wait time will be reduced from 2 to 3 years, to less than a year by 2015-16.
Richard Kurland, immigration lawyer welcomed the changes to the Act and called the bill as, a game a changer. Kurland told to the reporters that the biggest change in the proposed bill is clarity and for the first time there is explanation for residence in the law.
The proposed bill also includes the following:
- Increase in fee application - for each adult it has been raised to $300 from $100, and for minors, the fee would remain the same.
- Residents serving in the Canadian Armed forces can make use of the Fast-track citizenship facility.
- Immigration minister is given more powers to revoke the citizenship for acts against Canada in extreme cases.