Canada: Canada's New Citizenship Rules

The summer is always a busy time for immigration reforms.  This summer brought in significant changes to Canada's citizenship laws.  On June 19, 2014 the "Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act" received Royal Assent fundamentally changing many key aspects of Canada's citizenship laws.  A bulletin on CIC's website states as follows:

These reforms will strengthen the rules around access to citizenship to ensure that Canadians are better prepared for full participation and integration into Canadian society with the goal of fostering in new Canadians a stronger attachment to Canadian values and traditions.

So what's new?

Residency Requirements - Defined and Increased

For the first time "residency" is actually defined.  In previous Citizenship Acts residency was not defined, which meant that it was left to be interpreted by the courts under judicial review challenges.  Judicial pronouncement on what constituted residency varied drastically, resulting in inconsistent decision making in the courts.  Over the years, the courts had been leaning more and more towards a physical presence test requiring a person to be physically in Canada for 1095 days within a four year period.  Now that trend has become law.  However, the time needed to be in Canada has increased from three years of residency within a four year period (1095/1460) to four years of residency within a six year period (1460/2190).  To be eligible to apply for citizenship an individual must have been physically present in Canada for 1460 days within a six year window. In addition, you must be in Canada for a minimum of 183 days for four years out of the six.  It is not possible to acquire citizenship without being in Canada the majority of each year such that a person is now resident in Canada for tax purposes.  If you want to become a Canadian citizen, you must first become a Canadian taxpayer!  A further requirement of the new citizenship application process is to file copies of your Notices of Assessment along with your application.

More Inclusive Application of Knowledge and Language Standards

Now all applicants between the ages of 14 and 64 must meet knowledge and language requirements to obtain Citizenship.   Previously, these requirements only applied to persons between the ages of 18 and 54, and it was possible to take your citizenship test with the assistance of an interpreter.  All applicants for Canadian citizenship will need to pass a test demonstrating their knowledge about Canada.  In addition, they will need to meet one of the defined language proficiency criteria.  These objective requirements are meant to enhance the efficiency of the citizenship application process.

Provides Citizenship to Remaining Lost Canadians

Previously, many individuals were ineligible for Canadian citizenship due to the effect of Canada's previous archaic citizenship laws which failed to grant citizenship to women or their children in many instances.  Changes enacted in 2009 restored citizenship for many of these individuals yet there remained some who were not covered by the new legislation.  Bill C-24 restores citizenship to the remaining lost Canadians who were born before 1947 when Canada's first citizenship act was passed, and it further passes citizenship to their first generation of children born abroad.

Foreign Criminals Not Eligible

Previously, a person was ineligible to obtain citizenship if they were charged with or convicted of a crime in Canada.  This new legislation expands the bar on citizenship to persons with foreign charges or convictions.

Cracking Down on Fraud

Canada's former citizenship laws had few mechanisms to deter fraud, both of applicants and of those persons assisting applicants in the preparation of their citizenship applications.  The penalties for committing fraud in the citizenship application process were limited to a maximum fine of $1000 and/or one year in prison.  These new provisions have much greater consequences, increasing the penalties to $100,000 and/or five years in prison.  Furthermore, the act now specifies who can assist in the preparation of citizenship applications for a fee by limiting this service to regulated and licensed lawyers or immigration consultants. In addition to the penalties above, professionals who commit fraud in the citizenship process face sanction from their licensing bodies.

Speedier Processing Times

The new objective requirements of the application process are intended to greatly improve processing times.  Current processing standards are in the range of two to three years, and there is a considerable backlog of applications.  These new provisions reduce the citizenship application process from three steps to one.  The government is projecting that by 2015/2016 processing times for citizenship applications will be less than one year and that the backlog of applicants will have been reduced by 80%.

When Are The New Laws in Effect?

While the new laws have been enacted, they have not yet come into force and will not for approximately one year.  It is expected that they will come into effect in the spring or summer of 2015. Applicants can still apply under the previous citizenship criteria until official pronouncement of the date that these new laws are in effect.

This article appeared in the July 22, 2014 issue of the Asian Pacfic Post:

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.

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.