New Canadian citizenship requirements will make the naturalization process easier and quicker, particularly for permanent residents of Canada who have previously spent time in the country on temporary status, such as on a work permit or study permit.
Bill C-6, an act to amend the Canadian Citizenship Act, was passed into law when it received Royal Assent in Ottawa on June 19. This followed more than a year of political to-and-fro. During this period, certain measures of the bill were tweaked by the House of Commons and the Senate.
However, the most important measures remained intact throughout the legislative process. Notably, the previous Canadian citizenship requirements whereby permanent residents had to accumulate 1,460 days (four years) of residence in Canada within a six-year period before becoming eligible to apply for citizenship has been replaced. Under the new law, permanent residents are required to have spent just 1,095 days (three years) in Canada within a five-year period before becoming eligible for citizenship.
Not only that, but immigrants to Canada who had previously spent time on work or study status, or as a protected person, may count up to 365 days of this time towards their residency days. Each actual day spent in Canada on such a temporary status is counted as a half-day.
In effect, the new Canadian citizenship requirements reduce the waiting time for many permanent residents to become eligible, in many cases from four years down to two years. First, there is the reduction in the overall number of residency days required for all applicants. In addition, time spent in Canada temporarily may be counted. Together, this can cut in half the waiting period before an individual may become eligible.
Let’s take a hypothetical example.
James came to Canada on an International Experience Canada (IEC) work permit in 2014. He soon landed a job, and decided (as many do) that Canada was the place where he would like to settle and build his career. While still in Canada, he successfully entered the Express Entry pool as he was eligible under the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), a Canadian immigration program for people with Canadian work experience.
James received his invitation to apply (ITA) for permanent residence through Express Entry, and successfully became a permanent resident in mid-2016. Like many, James ultimately wants to obtain Canadian citizenship while also retaining the citizenship of his home country. Fortunately, Canada recognizes dual citizenship, so he won’t have to forego his natural birth citizenship. He wants this status because he would like to have the right to vote, the right to get a Canadian passport, and the right to pass on these rights to his future children, even if they are born abroad. In addition, he doesn’t want to have to continue to accumulate residency days in Canada in order to retain permanent resident status.
Since he got permanent resident status in 2016, and because the previous law required four years of residency before an individual may become eligible to apply for Canadian citizenship, James thought that he would become eligible some time in 2020 or 2021 (time spent outside Canada is not counted towards the residency days requirement). Under the new Canadian citizenship requirements, however, he could now feasibly become eligible in 2018.
And he’s not alone. A graduate who studied in Canada or an individual who came to Canada on a Labour Market Impact Assessment-based work permit, for example, may also benefit in the same way.
The new act is more liberal than the previous version in other ways too. For example, under the previous act, applicants had to be physically present in Canada for 183 days in four out of the six years preceding their application. Under the new act, this provision is repealed. Applicants no longer have to meet this requirement.