Canada strengthens Citizenship Act
Chris Alexander discussed reforms to strengthen Canadian citizenship at a citizenship ceremony with MP Devinder Shory at Fort Calgary in Alberta.
Canada announced reforms to the Citizenship Act to strengthen the rules around access to citizenship and to ensure that new citizens are better prepared for full participation and integration into Canadian society, with the goal of fostering in new Canadians a stronger attachment to Canadian values and traditions.
Key reforms include:
Improving efficiency: The citizenship program is being improved by reducing the decision-making process from three steps to one. It is expected that, by 2015–2016, this change will bring the average processing time for citizenship applications down to under a year. It is also projected that by 2015-2016, the current backlog will be reduced by more than 80 per cent.
Reinforcing the value of Canadian citizenship: Canada seeks to ensure citizenship applicants maintain strong ties to the country. Amendments to the Citizenship Act provide a clearer indication that the “residence” period to qualify for citizenship in fact requires physical presence in Canada.
More applicants will now be required to meet language requirements and pass a knowledge test to ensure that new citizens are better prepared to fully participate in Canadian society. New provisions will also help individuals with strong ties to Canada, such as by automatically extending citizenship to additional “Lost Canadians” who were born before 1947 as well as to their children born in the first generation outside Canada.
Cracking down on citizenship fraud: The updated Citizenship Act includes stronger penalties for fraud and misrepresentation (a maximum fine of $100,000 and/or five years in prison) and expands the grounds to bar an application for citizenship to include foreign criminality, which will help improve program integrity.
Posted: Jun 30, 2014