Changes made to Canadian citizenship rules: What you need to know

350 applications will be accepted under this year’s programme. (Shutterstock)

Changes have been made to Canadian citizenship, sharpening the rules and intensifying criteria.

One of the most contested citizenship among immigrants around the world, the changes may change the way people think about moving to the North American country.

Reforms to the Citizenship Act have been put in place starting June 11, 2015, aimed at safeguarding Canadian citizenship for genuine applicants only, deterring ‘citizens of convenience’, or those who become citizens for the sake of having a Canadian passport.

With the new rules more emphasis is placed on the intention to reside in Canada.

In order to apply for citizenship, adult applicants must now be physically present in Canada for at least 1,460 days (four years) during the six years before the date of their application, and they must be physically present in Canada for at least 183 days in each of four calendar years within the qualifying period.

Further, adult applicants must declare their intent to reside in Canada once they have attained citizenship, and have met all tax obligations before applying for citizenship.

A maximum fine of CAD100,000 (Dh300,000) or a 5-year prison term may be issued when applicants misrepresent themselves upon application for citizenship, as penalties have become tougher in this regard.

Language requirements for either English or French apply for applicants in the age-group 14-64.

New application forms are already available online and any application submitted after June 10, 2015, should be completed or have been completed using the new forms. Applications using the old forms will be returned.

In addition to the tightening of rules regarding application, Canadian citizenship can be revoked as well, if attained by means other than birth.

With the introduction of the C-24 Bill, a two-tier system is implemented where non-Canadians gain citizenship on a different basis than citizens born in the country.

According to the Canadian government, this move is implemented to target the terrorism threat in the country, as citizenship can be taken away mainly on the basis of crimes that are considered threats to Canada’s national security, like terrorism or espionage, or demonstrations of disloyalty to Canada, like treason.

Since immigrants applying for Canadian citizenship are only able to gain second-class citizenship, the value of the popular passport has decreased in value, state critics.

Over the years, Canada has topped the list of most popular countries for immigrants looking for a second citizenship or residency, and many immigrants successfully settle in the country every year.

(Image via Shutterstock)