Further Implementation of Changes to the Citizenship Act

On October 4, 2017, the Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, announced implementation dates with respect to changes to the Citizenship Act following the passage of Bill C-6 earlier this year. On October 11, 2017, new provisions came into effect which change the physical presence requirement and the age range of those subject to the language and knowledge requirements.

Specifically, for the physical presence requirement, applicants must demonstrate that they were physically present in Canada for three out of five years before applying for citizenship, instead of the current four years of physical residence in the last six years. In addition, permanent residents will now be able to count each day that they were physically present in Canada as a temporary resident or protected person, prior to becoming a permanent resident, as a half-day toward meeting the physical presence requirement. The half days can add up to a maximum credit of 365 days within the relevant five year period. The number of years applicants need to file income taxes will be aligned with the new “three of five” years physical presence requirement.

With regards to the language and knowledge requirements, applicants between 18 and 54 years must meet the necessary language and knowledge requirements. This is a change from 14 and 64 years of age.

The implementation of the changes will also result in the repeal of the requirement for applicants to be physically present in Canada for 183 days in four out of the six years preceding their application. Applicants will no longer need to meet this requirement.

Earlier this year the requirement to intend to reside in Canada was repealed. More changes to the Citizenship Act are expected to be implemented later this year and in early 2018.