A new Bill C-6 was passed in June 2017, which ensures that permanent residents of Canada can enjoy a speedier, simpler citizenship naturalisation process. The first of these key changes came into effect on 11 October 2017. These changes have been long awaited by permanent residents and demonstrate the government’s commitment to welcoming people from all over the world as Canadian citizens.
Shorter waiting time
The first change that comes into effect on October 11, concerns the number of days an applicant must spend as a permanent resident before applying for citizenship and how these days will be counted. Previous citizenship applicants had to amass 1 460 days (four years) of residence within Canada, within a six-year period, all of it on permanent status, before they could apply for citizenship.
Under the new Bill C-6, permanent residents only have to amass 1 095 days (three years) of residence in Canada over a five year period in order to become eligible for citizenship. In addition if you are spending time in Canada on a work or study visa, or as a protected person prior to becoming resident, you can count 365 days of this time as a temporary resident towards your overall residency days.
In cases like these, each actual day spent in Canada on a temporary status is counted as a half-day, which means every two days is counted as one day towards your citizenship eligibility – up to a maximum of 365 days. This means that if you’re on a work or study visa, you can potentially receive citizenship in as little as two years!
In addition, the government will no longer require applicants for citizenship to be physically present for 183 days or more in four out of the 6 years prior to their application.
Changes to income tax
Under the previous laws, applicants had to file Canadian income taxes, if required to do so under the Income Tax Act, for four out of the six years, matching their physical presence requirements. Under the new Bill applicants need only file Canadian income taxes, if required to do so under the Income Tax Act, for three out of the five years, in accordance with their new physical presence requirements.
Language requirements relaxed
Under the old laws, applicants between 14 and 64 years had to meet the language and knowledge requirements for citizenship. Now only applicants between 18 and 54 must meet these requirements.
Intention to reside, no longer a requirement
Under the old laws, applicants had to intend to live in Canada once granted citizenship. This provision was repealed in June 2017, which provides more flexibility for Canadians who may need to live outside of Canada for work or personal reasons.
These new changes all reflect Canada’s welcoming attitude towards immigrants. “We understand the importance and the positive role that immigrants play in our economy, in our society and in our cultural life”, said Minister Hussen, Canada’s Minister of Immigration in a speech in Brampton, Ontario on 4 October 2017.