Ottawa – Cathy McLeod, Member of Parliament for Kamloops – Thompson – Cariboo says the Feb. 6, 2014, announced reforms to the citizenship act will create a faster and more efficient application process.
“This is the first comprehensive reform of the Citizenship Act since 1977,” said McLeod. “This important legislation will streamline Canada’s citizenship program by reducing the decision making process from three steps to one. This in turn will bring the average processing time for citizenship applications down to under a year.”
Bill C- 24, the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act, will:
Reinforce the Value of Canadian Citizenship. This act will provide a clearer indication that the “residence” period to qualify for citizenship in fact requires a 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.
Crack Down on Citizenship Fraud – This legislation includes stronger penalties for fraud and misrepresentation (a maximum fine of $100,000 and/or five years in prison), and expanding the grounds to bar an application for citizenship to include foreign criminality which will help improve program integrity.
Protect and Promote Canada’s Interests and Values – The legislation brings Canada in line with most of our peer countries, by providing that citizenship can be revoked from dual nationals who are convicted of terrorism, high treason, and spying offences (depending on the sentence received), or who take up arms against Canada. Permanent residents who commit these acts will be barred from applying for citizenship.
“It is projected that this legislation will not only reduce the current backlog by more than 80 percent, but it will align the citizenship fees with the actual cost of processing, relieving the burden on the Canadian taxpayer who currently subsidizes 80 per cent of the cost,” concluded McLeod.