Bill C-6 received Royal Assent on June 19, 2017, providing a smoother pathway to Canadian citizenship for thousands of permanent residents in Canada and their families. Some changes took place immediately. For example, effective immediately on June 19, 2017, when the bill passed, citizenship applicants no longer needed to demonstrate their intention to continue to live in Canada once granted citizenship. Now that it’s Fall of 2017, the following changes, including one which reduces the amount of time permanent residents must live in Canada to become eligible for citizenship, will come into effect on October 11, 2017.
- Previous applicants had to be physically present in Canada for four out of six years before applying for citizenship. Under Bill C-6 Amendments, applicants now only have to be physically present in Canada for three out of five years before applying for citizenship.
- Applicants no longer have to be physically present in Canada for 183 days in four out of the six years preceding their application.
- Time spent in Canada prior to becoming a permanent resident did not count towards the physical presence requirement for citizenship. Under Bill C-6 Amendments, every day an applicant was physically present in Canada as a temporary resident (for example, on a work or study permit) or a protected person, before becoming a permanent resident, may be counted as a half-day toward meeting the physical presence requirement for citizenship. They may count this time up to a maximum credit of 365 days.
- Applicants between 14 and 64 years of age had to meet the language and knowledge requirements for citizenship. These ages have been raised and lowered respectively, so that language and knowledge requirements for citizenship only need to be met by applicants between the ages of 18 and 54.
The last few changes of Bill C- will take effect in early 2018. Currently, the Minister is the decision-maker for most cases of citizenship revocation on the grounds of false representation, fraud or knowingly concealing material circumstances. When the final changes take effect however, the Federal Court will now act as the decision-maker in all revocation cases unless the individual specifically requests that the Minister make the decision. In addition, the Bill C-6 Amendments will also provide clear authority under the Citizenship Act for Citizenship Officers to seize fraudulent or suspected fraudulent documents.