If your eligibility for citizenship might be affected by the upcoming changes to Canadian immigration laws, which will be taking effect this June, then an immigration lawyer in Canada might advise that you submit your application sooner rather than later.
The number of permanent residents becoming Canadian citizens has been steadily decreasing in recent years, believed to be in part due to increased difficulty in attaining citizenship. With Bill C-24, which was passed last June and will change the requirements for citizenship starting this upcoming June, it’s expected to become even more difficult without the aid of a citizenship lawyer.
The Bill will essentially make Canadian citizenship more difficult to obtain, and easier to lose. It raises the minimum test score from 60 per cent to 75 per cent, as well as the minimum age for exemptions (i.e. not needing to take the knowledge test or prove language proficiency) from 55 to 65. This means many people who were waiting until they turned 55 to apply may have to wait an additional 10 years. Along with a fee hike—from $100 to $300 in February last year, and again to $560 in December—this presents a genuine challenge for those who do not have the benefit of working with a Canadian immigration lawyer.
Given the many reforms to immigration policy over the course of recent years, it’s no surprise that while 79 per cent of immigrants who arrived in 2000 attained citizenship when they became eligible, only 44 per cent of those who arrived in 2007 and 26 per cent of those from 2008 have done the same. (It is important to note that as it tends to take at least six years, if not more, to become eligible for citizenship, that these figures are more recent than they seem, as persons who arrived in Canada in 2008 would not be able to apply until at least 2014.) Apart from many people no longer being eligible—or taking longer to achieve eligibility—it’s also apparent that many permanent residents feel overwhelmed by the difficulty of attaining citizenship, or otherwise cannot meet the ever-demanding requirements.
For residents who are tentative about applying for citizenship, their best course of action is to consult a qualified and experienced citizenship lawyer. An immigration lawyer in Canada can help ensure that they meet all of the citizenship criteria and represent them in the application if necessary. Another benefit of a citizenship lawyer is that they can help appeal a case that has been rejected.