Blame it on the Conservatives – Canada is set to make it more difficult for immigrants to acquire citizenship as the country vows to implement a major overhaul in citizenship laws. This means a longer wait for those who want to become a citizen of the Great White North.
Bill C-24, a bill dubbed as an effort to “strengthen the value of citizenship,” will be deliberated in the coming days and is intended to emphasize how citizenship is Canada’s “most precious commodity.”
With the impending citizenship law revisions, immigrants are required to maintain physical presence in the country for four out of six years before they can file their citizenship application, a one-year addition to the previous requirement. Even permanent residents will be compelled to sign a formal “intent to reside” document and will have to be physically present in the country for 183 days in a year for at least four of the six years.
Applicants for citizenship who are between 14 and 64 years old will be required to comply with language requirements and undertake a knowledge test. This means a broader age bracket for the language and knowledge test.
The cost of applying for citizenship will also be raised to $300 or thrice the current rate.
Additionally, those who want to become Canadian citizens will be required to file income taxes in the country.
For permanent residents who belong to the Canadian Armed Forces, however, the process will be expedited without necessarily providing exemptions on the proposed tighter requirements.
More Severe Fraud Penalties
Aside from imposing stricter requirements, the bill also aims to improve the crackdown and prevent the proliferation of frauds and those who abuse the loopholes or infirmities in the system.
Harsher penalties will be implemented for those who violate the law or those who obtain bogus citizenship. These include the raising of fines by up to 100 times, or a possible fine of about $100,000. Jail time will be raised to five years.
Moreover, the Immigration Minister will be granted greater authority to decide on the revocation of citizenships in cases involving citizenship holders who are convicted as terrorists, spies, or traitors to the state.
Stripping Citizenship Privileges
Those who have already acquired citizenship are not guaranteed absolute claim to being a permanent resident of Canada. Citizens who have been convicted of terrorism, treason, high treason, and espionage charges will be stripped of their Canadian citizenship.
A government press release on Thursday said that individuals, those who hold dual citizenship in particular, will lose their citizenship if they are proven to have “membership in an armed force or organized armed group engaged in armed conflict with Canada.”
Immigration Minister Chris Alexander underscored that “Canadian citizenship is uniquely valuable in the world, a weighty privilege that bestows both duties and rights, opportunities, and responsibilities.” He adds that “citizenship is a pledge of mutual responsibility and a shared commitment to values rooted in our history.”