As of May 29, 2015, lawmakers can now revoke Canadian citizenship from dual nationals and immigrants who are convicted of charges such as terrorism and treason.
These new measures are part of Bill C-24, also known as the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act. The legislation was first passed in June 2014 and, at that time, a Globe and Mail opinion piece stated that Bill C-24 simultaneously “redefines and substantially weakens” what it means to be Canadian.
As part of that bill, the government now also has the power to revoke the citizenship of dual nationals who take up arms against Canada, whether that’s done through a foreign army or through non-state terrorist groups such as ISIS. Citizenship can also be stripped based on false representation at the time of applying for citizenship.
Why this matters to your clients
The government has created “a two-tier citizenship system,” contends The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, which may concern your dual citizen and immigrant clients.
Dual citizens, people who have immigrated to Canada and people who are eligible for another nationality “can have their citizenship taken away, while other Canadians cannot.”
The BCCLA further states: “Under this law, the only Canadians who can never lose their citizenship are those born in Canada who do not have another nationality (and are not eligible to apply for another nationality). No matter what crimes they may be accused of, these citizens can never have their citizenship taken away.”
And, as legal experts suggested to the BCCLA, the list of offences that would lead to loss of citizenship could grow in the future. Read more.
A new streamlined revocation system is now in place. Previously, says a government release, citizenship could be revoked, but the process often took several years to complete since cases were reviewed by the:
- Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) minister;
- federal court; and
- Governor in Council.
Now, revocation cases will only be reviewed by the CIC minister unless they’re considered exceptional—this includes cases that involve war crimes, as well as those regarding national security. In those instances, cases will go to the federal court instead.
Read: Dealing with foreign wealth, for more on cross-border taxation
Those applying for citizenship will now also go through a more streamlined approval process. As citizenshipcounts.ca explains, what was once a three-step process will now be a one-step process.
For example, “Citizenship application[s] are now reviewed and decided on by one citizenship officer. Previously, [they] was reviewed by one citizenship officer, two citizenship judges, and then three citizenship officers.”
Also in effect is a rule that allows members of the Canadian Armed Forces, or a group attached to the CAF, to apply for citizenship under a fast-track process.
The government says, “Those who have served for one year less than the standard residence requirement for citizenship may qualify for a grant of citizenship, provided they meet all other requirements. This means the length of time you served in the Canadian Armed Forces is used instead of the length of time you lived in Canada.”
Previously, says citizenshipcounts.ca, people had to have lived in Canada for three out of four years, or for 1,095 days, prior to applying. But, under Bill C-24, that’s now four out of six years, or 1,460 days, and there are other requirements, including being physically present in the country.
For a full list of the new requirements for applying for Canadian citizenship, click here.