Immigration Minister Chris Alexander has announced plans for significant reform to Canada’s Citizenship Act.
The changes, which will be tabled at the upcoming session of Parliament, are being touted as the “first comprehensive reform […] in over a generation.” However, they will not, apparently, touch on issues of so-called “birth tourism,” for which the government plans on obtaining more input from the provinces. Birth tourism refers to the phenomenon of expectant mothers coming to Canada to give birth and thus automatically obtaining Canadian citizenship for their babies.
One issue that will be a focus of the latest reforms is the problem of so-called “Lost Canadians,” many of whom have lived in Canada for years and have not been able to qualify for citizenship because of small technicalities.
“Some are children of war brides, some have other complicated circumstances which should never have barred them from citizenship, and we have to fix the legislation,” said Minister Alexander regarding the “Lost Canadians.”
Other expected reforms include longer waiting periods before landed immigrants can gain citizenship status, while also working to reduce waiting times once the application for citizenship has been filed. Current processing times are between two and three years.
The reforms are expected to ease the application process, as well as discourage abuses of citizenship – particularly those applicants who are not living in, nor have any intention of living in Canada.
“[The reform is about] making sure that people who are becoming citizens have really lived here, and have lived here for enough time to really understand what citizenship is about, what the country is about,” said Alexander.