Library of Congress

Law Library of Congress

The Library of Congress > Law Library > News & Events > Global Legal Monitor

Canada: Bill Amending the Citizenship Act Receives Royal Assent

(July 7, 2017) On June 19, 2017, the Canadian Parliament’s Bill C-6, an Act to Amend the Citizenship Act and Make Consequential Amendments to Another Act, received Royal Assent. (Bill C-6 Receives Royal Assent, Government of Canada website (last updated June 19, 2017); Bill C-6 (June 17, 2017), Parliament of Canada website.) The Bill was put forward by the Liberal Party government as part of a campaign promise to remove “‘unfair elements’ from the current Citizenship Act” that were introduced by the previous Conservative government in regard to the requirements for gaining citizenship and how citizenship may be revoked. (Cristina Guida, Bill C-6: Changes to the Citizenship Act, Green & Spiegel website (Apr. 28, 2017).)

Some of the changes took immediate effect after the Bill received Royal Assent. This includes the repeal of the Citizenship Act provision that had revoked the citizenship of dual citizens “convicted of treason, spying and terrorism offences, depending on the sentence received, or who were a part of an armed force of a country or organized group engaged in conflict with Canada.” (Bill C-6 Receives Royal Assent, supra.) The current government also claims Bill C-6 includes amendments “to provide greater flexibility for applicants trying to meet the requirements for citizenship and some additional measures to further enhance program integrity.” (Changes to Support Changes to the Citizenship Act, Government of Canada website (last updated Mar. 31, 2017).)

Previously, the time spent in Canada prior to becoming a permanent resident “did not count towards the physical presence requirement for citizenship.” (Bill C-6 Receives Royal Assent, supra.) After  the amendments, the number of days during which a person was physically present in Canada as a temporary resident or a protected person prior to becoming a permanent resident will count, but only as a “half-day [for each day in those statuses] toward meeting the physical presence requirement for citizenship, up to a maximum credit of 365 days.” (Id.)

Some of the changes will become effective in the fall of 2017. Prior to these amendments coming into force, applicants must “be physically present in Canada for four out of six years before applying for citizenship”; the requirement will be three out of five years once the amendments take effect. (Id.) Moreover, applicants had to be physically present in Canada for 183 days in four out of the six years preceding their application; this requirement need no longer be met as a result of the adoption of Bill C-6. (Id.) Previously, applicants between the ages of 14 and 64 years had to meet language and knowledge requirements for citizenship, but now the requirement applies to anyone between the ages of 18 and 54 years. (Id.)

Other changes that result from the Bill will not take effect until early 2018. They include a change to the current citizenship revocation decision-making process to “strengthen procedural fairness” by adding a right to appeal. The amendments make the Federal Court the final decision-maker in all revocation cases, “unless the individual requests that the Minister make the decision.” (Id.) In the past, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship was the “decision-maker for most cases of citizenship revocation on the grounds of false representation, fraud, or knowingly concealing material circumstances.” (Id.) The Federal Court only dealt with these cases when related to “security, human or international right violations, and organized criminality.” (Id.)