Canada: Government Of Canada Proposes Significant Amendments To The Citizenship Act

Last Updated: February 17 2014
Article by Henry Chang


On February 6, 2014, Citizenship and Immigration Minister (the "Minister") Chris Alexander unveiled Bill C-24, the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act, which will be the first significant amendment to the Canadian Citizenship Act 1 since 1977. Among other things, Bill C-24 makes the following amendments to the Citizenship Act:

  1. It clarifies the meaning of being resident in Canada for naturalization purposes;
  2. It changes the period during which a permanent resident must reside in Canada before they may apply for citizenship;
  3. It expedites access to citizenship for persons who are serving in, or have served in, the Canadian Armed Forces;
  4. It requires an applicant for citizenship to demonstrate knowledge of Canada, knowledge of the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship, and knowledge of one of Canada's official languages;
  5. It specifies the minimum age at which an applicant for citizenship must demonstrate the above knowledge;
  6. It requires that an applicant meet any applicable requirement under the Income Tax Act2 to file an income tax return;
  7. It confers citizenship on certain individuals and their descendants who may not have acquired citizenship under prior legislation;
  8. It extends an exception to the first-generation limit to citizenship by descent to children born to or adopted abroad by parents who were themselves born to or adopted abroad by Crown servants; and
  9. It requires, for a grant of citizenship to an adopted person, that the adoption not have circumvented international adoption law.

Amendments to the Citizenship Act's security and fraud provisions also include the following changes:

  1. It expands the prohibition against granting citizenship to include persons who are charged outside Canada for an offence that, if committed in Canada, would constitute an indictable offence under an Act of Parliament or who are serving a sentence outside Canada for such an offence;
  2. It expands the prohibition against granting citizenship to include persons who engaged in certain actions contrary to the national interest of Canada while they were permanent residents;
  3. It aligns the grounds related to security and organized criminality on which a person may be denied citizenship with those grounds that currently exist in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act 3 and extends the period during which a person is barred from acquiring citizenship on that basis;
  4. It expands the prohibition against granting citizenship to include persons who misrepresent material facts in the course of their application and prohibits new applications by those persons for a specified period;
  5. It increases the period during which a person is barred from applying for citizenship after having been convicted of certain offences;
  6. It increases the maximum penalties for offences related to citizenship, including fraud and trafficking in documents of citizenship;
  7. It provides for the regulation of citizenship consultants;
  8. It establishes a hybrid model for revoking a person's citizenship in which the Minister will decide the majority of cases and the Federal Court will decide the cases related to inadmissibility based on security grounds, on grounds of violating human or international rights or on grounds of organized criminality;
  9. It increases the period during which a person is barred from applying for citizenship after their citizenship has been revoked;
  10. It provides for the revocation of citizenship of dual citizens who, while they were Canadian citizens, engaged in certain actions contrary to the national interest of Canada, and permanently bars these individuals from reacquiring citizenship; and
  11. It authorizes regulations to be made respecting the disclosure of information.

Amendments to the provisions governing the processing of applications and the review of decisions include the following:

  1. It requires that an application must be complete to be accepted for processing;
  2. It expands the grounds and period for the suspension of applications and provides for the circumstances in which applications may be treated as abandoned;
  3. It limits the role of citizenship judges in the decision-making process, subject to the Minister periodically exercising his or her power to continue the period of application of that limitation;
  4. It gives the Minister the power to make regulations concerning the making and processing of applications;
  5. It provides for the judicial review of any matter under the Citizenship Act and permits, in certain circumstances, further appeals to the Federal Court of Appeal; and
  6. It transfers discretionary power to grant citizenship in special cases to the Minister.

Key Changes

Bills C-24 proposes to streamline the citizenship application process by reducing the decision-making process from three steps to one and will eliminate the role of citizenship judges in such applications. The Government of Canada states that this change should bring the average processing time for citizenship applications down to under a year by 2015-2016. It also states that the current backlog will be reduced by more than 80% by 2015-2016.

The Government of Canada states that current citizenship application fees only cover 20% of the cost of processing a citizenship application. Bill C-24 will impose a new $300 CAD application fee for citizenship applicants, which should cover the entire cost of processing a citizenship application.

Bill C-24 will increase the period of required residence for citizenship eligibility. The current rules allow a permanent resident to seek Canadian citizenship after being resident in Canada for at least three years during the four years preceding the filing of the application. The proposed rules will instead require four years of residence in Canada during the six years preceding the filing of the application.

Bill C-24 will specifically require applicants to have been physically present in Canada for at least 183 days out of each of their four years of residence in Canada. This addresses the conflicting federal court decisions that have attempted to define the meaning of "resident in Canada" for the purposes of citizenship eligibility.

Bill C-24 will require applicants to have met any applicable requirement under the Income Tax Act to file an income tax return for the four taxation years during which they claim to have been resident in Canada. This requirement does not exist under the current Citizenship Act.

Bill C-24 will broaden the range of applicants who will be required to satisfy the official language and knowledge tests. Under the current Citizenship Act, applicants ages 18 to 54 must speak English or French and pass a Canadian knowledge test. The proposed amendments will increase the maximum age to age 64.

One of the most controversial changes contained in Bill C-24 is the ability of the Canadian Government to revoke the Canadian citizenship of dual citizens (both Canadian-born and naturalized citizens) if they are convicted of terrorism, treason or spying abroad. It will also allow the Government of Canada to revoke the Canadian citizenship of dual citizens who are part of an "organized armed group engaged in armed conflict in Canada," or block citizenship applications from such people. Although the proposed law prohibits the Canadian Government from revoking the Canadian citizenship of persons who would otherwise become stateless, critics have pointed out that many Canadians may unknowingly possess citizenship in another country through a parent, even though they have no connection to that country and have never previously claimed that country's citizenship.


Although Bill C-24 contains several welcome changes to the Citizenship Act, it also contains several controversial provisions that are certain to prompt a heated debate in Canada.


1 R.S.C., 1985, c. C-29.

2 R.S.C., 1985, c. 1 (5th Supp.).

3 S.C. 2001, c. 27.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Henry Chang
In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.