Navigating the New Citizenship Requirements with the Help of a Qualified Citizenship Lawyer
Last month, on June 11, 2015, the new requirements for Canadian citizenship came into effect, creating drastic changes for Canada’s immigration system. The changes, which have been framed as an effort to increase the “value” of citizenship, have made it significantly more difficult and expensive to become a Canadian, even with the help of a citizenship lawyer. There is a risk that these changes will have a more adverse effect than expected, however; the people who may face the biggest difficulties becoming citizens may also be those who value it the most. How it affects the landscape of immigration in Canada in the long term remains to be seen.
Among the most controversial changes is the raising of the maximum age to take the knowledge and language test. Before the changes had taken place, applicants of age 55 or older were exempt from taking the test. Now, the age of exemption is 65—an entire decade older. For residents who were eagerly awaiting turning 55 to apply for citizenship because they have experienced difficulty in passing the test, this means an additional ten years of waiting to apply.
The requirement for time spent in Canada has also raised from three years to four in a six-year period. Though citizenship lawyers point out that this may make citizenship more difficult for people whose employment requires them to travel, otherwise it may simply create a delay for citizenship applications. Time spent in Canada before attaining permanent resident status is no longer counted in the application process.
There has also been an increase in the application fees: adults now must pay $630 each, and minors must pay $200. That steady employment is difficult to come by in the current economic state of the country for both citizens and non-citizens alike seems to have been overlooked entirely.
Another change has been increased authority by Citizenship and Immigration Canada to deny and revoke citizenship under certain conditions. Permanent residents who have served as members of armed forces of nations identified as enemies to Canada will be denied citizenship—and as of May 28 of this year, dual citizens who have served in aforementioned armed can have their Canadian citizenship revoked, regardless of if they are safe or even welcome in their home countries. Similar regulations apply to anyone convicted of treason in their native country, which may make it more difficult for political refugees to become citizens.
If you require additional information on how these changes may affect your plans to apply, or are in need of assistance putting together your application or appealing a decision against your application, please contact an experienced citizenship lawyer in Canada. Immigration is a journey that can have many roadblocks, but with the right help, you can still make your new country your home.