The federal government is making slow progress on pushing through Canadian citizenship legislation to repeal many of the controversial changes made under the previous Conservative government.
The current sticking point is whether the Liberal Bill C-6 will remove the federal government’s right to strip Canada citizenship without a hearing.
In its current form, Bill C-6 does not repeal the right, but Independent Senator Ratna Omidvar is planning to introduce an amendment that would remove the power.
Currently, anyone found to have misrepresented themselves during the application process can have their Canadian citizenship revoked without explanation.
Other changes featured in the bill include lowering the number of days a candidate must be physically present in Canada as a permanent resident before applying for Canada citizenship, removing the need for intent to live in Canada, and returning the age range for language testing to between 18 and 54.
The federal government had originally targeted July 1 2016 to get the bill made law, but it has face continued delays in the Senate.
It made it through the House of Commons without amendment on June 17, 2016, but has been in the Senate ever since, the focus of eight separate debates.
The new amendment will only slow the process further, but lawmakers believe it is necessary to repeal one of the most controversial parts of the Conservative legislation.
Summary of proposed changes under Bill C-6
- Applicants must be permanent residents of and physically reside in Canada for at least 1,095 days (three years) during the five years before the date of their application, and repeals requirement that applicants must be physically present in Canada for at least 183 days in each of the qualifying years.
- Applicants between the ages of 18 and 54 must meet basic knowledge and language requirements. Applicable criteria will be defined under future regulations.
- Repeals a requirement that adult applicants must declare their intent to reside in Canada once they are granted Canadian citizenship.
- Restores consideration of time spent in Canada as a non-permanent resident (non-PR) for most applicants to a maximum of one year of credited time.
- Reduces the period to three years for adult applicants to file Canadian income taxes, if required under the Income Tax Act, to be eligible for citizenship.
- Repeals authority to revoke Canadian citizenship from dual citizens who served as members of an armed force of a country or an organized armed group engaged in armed conflict with Canada.
- Repeals authority to revoke Canadian citizenship from dual citizens who are convicted of terrorism, high treason, treason, or spying offences, depending on the sentence received.
- Authorizes Minister to seize documents used in fraudulent citizenship applications.
Increased fees and tightening of the rules have resulted in Canadian citizenship application numbers dropping by half between 2015 and 2016, the latest figures show.
In the first nine months of 2016, just 56,446 citizenship applications were submitted to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, compared with 111,993 during the same period of 2015.
As recently as 2014, the citizenship fee was $100. The previous Conservative government raised it to $300, and then to $530 in 2015.
The citizenship application fee remains competitive when compared to Canada’s international peers.
In the US, citizenship applicants pay US$725, which works out as roughly CAN$960. In the UK the fee is £1,236 (CAN$2,030), while in Germany it is the equivalent of CAD$360, in Sweden CAD220 and France CAD$77.
Canadian Citizenship Application Fees
|2014 and before||$100|
|2014 to 2015||$300|
|2015 to present||$530|
With the numbers dropping off so dramatically in 2016, there are calls for the fees to be returned at least to the $300 level.
Canadian permanent residents enjoy many of the same rights as citizens in Canada, although they are not allowed to vote or run for political office, or hold certain jobs that require a high-level security clearance.
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