Important changes to the Citizenship Act in 2015

The Government of Canada has announced two important changes that will affect immigrants seeking to apply for permanent resident status or Canadian citizenship. Changes to the Federal Immigration Policy will come into effect from January 1, 2015 while the changes to the Canadian Citizenship Act come into effect in summer 2015.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada will, from January 1, 2015 introduce the Express Entry system to better attract skilled immigrants to fill specific Canadian labour market needs. The Express Entry system will be used to manage applications for permanent residence under the federal economic immigration programs: the Federal Skilled Worker Program , the Federal Skilled Trades Program , and the Canadian Experience Class .

Prospective immigrants will be able to apply online and provide information about their professional skills, education, languages spoken and work experience. Applicant’s skills will then be matched with labour needs that have been identified by the provinces and employers. A valid job offer or provincial nominee guarantees that applicants will be invited to apply for permanent residence. A maximum processing time of 6 months can be expected.

Changes to the Canadian Citizenship Act focus on four main requirements. There has already been a change to the cost of an application for citizenship, which from February 2014 now costs $400.

  1. Residency requirements

Under the revised Citizenship Act, a permanent resident now has to:

  • Be physically present in Canada for four out of six years (1,460 days)
  • Be physically present in Canada for a minimum of 183 days per year for four years
  • Begin counting their time in Canada towards their 4 out of 6 years, only when they have landed as an immigrant. This means that any time previously spent in Canada on a work permit, visitor’s visa or even Parent or Grandparent Supervise will no longer count.
  • Provide an “intent to reside”
  1. Age requirements

This requirement is linked specifically to the ability to prove language abilities. Upon application for citizenship, the applicant must show:

  • A knowledge requirement must be met and a knowledge test passed. This is for all applicants between the ages of 14-64
  • The knowledge requirement can be met in English or French only – the assistance of an interpreter is no longer allowed
  1. Income tax returns must be filed

All adult applicants will be required to file their Canadian income tax returns before their applications will be considered.

  1. Criminal charges and convictions

Previously, applicants that had domestic criminal charges or convictions were not eligible for citizenship. Under the revised Citizenship Act, applicants with either domestic and/or foreign criminal charges or convictions are not eligible to apply for citizenship.

For the most recent updates, visit the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website at www.cic.gc.ca/