As of October 11, permanent residents in Canada can apply for Canadian citizenship — a process known as naturalization — more easily and sooner than before, following the implementation of key measures contained in Bill C-6, which was passed into law last June.
Whereas previously permanent residents had to accumulate at least four years of residency days out of six years prior to applying, they may now apply if they accumulate three years of residency out of five. Moreover, permanent residents who spent time in Canada as a foreign worker, international student, or protected person before transitioning to permanent residence may count a portion of this time towards the residency day’s requirement, where each day spent in Canada on temporary status counts as half a day, up to a maximum of 365 days.
In addition, as of October 11 the government no longer requires applicants for citizenship to be physically present in Canada for 183 days or more in four out of the six years preceding their application, as was the case before.
Speaking in Brampton, Ontario last week, federal Minister of Immigration Ahmed Hussen, himself a naturalized citizen of Canada, said that, “We want all permanent residents in Canada to become citizens. That’s our wish, because we value Canadian citizenship, we understand we are a community that continues to welcome people from all over the world. And we understand the importance and the positive role that immigrants play in our economy, in our society, and in our cultural life.”
The Minister’s comments highlight that, except in exceptional circumstances in international adoption cases, citizenship is a status that may only be obtained after an individual becomes a permanent resident of Canada.
Other changes to the Citizenship Act also came into effect on October 11.
|PREVIOUS REGULATION||NEW REGULATION|
|Applicants had to be physically present in Canada for four out of six years before applying for citizenship.||Applicants must be physically present in Canada for three out of five years before applying for citizenship.|
|Applicants had to file Canadian income taxes, if required to do so under the Income Tax Act, for four out of six years, matching the physical presence requirement.||Applicants must file Canadian income taxes, if required to do so under the Income Tax Act, for three out of five years, matching the new physical presence requirement.|
|Applicants had to be physically present in Canada for 183 days in four out of the six years preceding their application.||This provision is repealed. Applicants no longer have to meet this requirement.|
|Time spent in Canada prior to becoming a permanent resident did not count towards the physical presence requirement for citizenship.||Applicants may count each day they were physically present in Canada as a temporary resident or protected person before becoming a permanent resident as a half-day toward meeting the physical presence requirement for citizenship, up to a maximum credit of 365 days.|
|Applicants between 14 and 64 years had to meet the language and knowledge requirements for citizenship.||Applicants between 18 and 54 years must meet the language and knowledge requirements for citizenship.|
Canadian citizens enjoy all the rights that come with that status, including the right to leave and re-enter Canada without needing to accumulate residency days, as well as the right to vote and stand for political office. Citizens may also apply for a Canadian passport, one of the most valuable passports globally.