Canada passes new citizenship law

On June 19, 2017, Canada’s new citizenship law receive Royal Assent, the final step in the legislative process. This is an amendment to existing Canadian citizenship law. The law, known as C-6, will make it easier for many people to attain Canadian citizenship. The law goes into effect in stages. As of June 19, persons applying for citizenship are no longer required to have the intent to live in Canada, making it easier for new Canadian citizens to live or work outside of Canada. Also, the age restrictions for applying for Canadian citizenship have been removed, so that minors can now apply for citizenship. Finally, the government can no longer revoke Canadian citizenship because of commission of certain crimes. This eliminates the widely criticized “two-tier” citizenship system introduced by the previous government.

The most important reform will be reducing the physical presence requirement from four years out of six under current law to three years out of five. This is a cumulative requirement over the five year period. It is no longer necessary that a person must be present for 183 days in any particular year in the five year period so long as the total adds up to the necessary amount. In addition, time spent in Canada before becoming a permanent resident will also be counted towards the physical presence requirement at the rate of one half day for each day spent in Canada. However, the new physical presence requirements do not go into effect immediately, perhaps to allow Canada to ramp up for the expected increase in applications.

These important reforms to the citizenship law were promised by the Liberal Party in the campaign leading up to the elections in October 2015. We commend the Liberal Party for keeping these promises.