Canada: What's to Come….

Last Updated: April 1 2016
Article by Vance Langford and Jenna Kirk

There has been a lot of excitement lately, as the new Liberal Government has begun to address the promises made during their campaign last year.  Proposed amendments to immigration legislation and policy are currently focused on the areas of citizenship, conditional permanent residence and the temporary foreign worker program.

In June 2014, under the Conservative government, Bill C-24, Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act came into force, making it more difficult for permanent residents to obtain citizenship in Canada. Bill C-24 increased the required duration of physical residence in Canada from 3 out of 4 years, to 4 out of 6 years, with at least 183 days spent in Canada per year. Bill C-24 also introduced the requirement for yearly Canadian income tax filing, extended the age range for language and knowledge tests from 18-54 to 14-64, and removed the provision allowing time in Canada before becoming a permanent resident to count towards citizenship. Most controversially, Bill C-24 granted the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada the ability to revoke Canadian Citizenship based on 'national interest grounds.'

On February 25, 2016, the new Liberal Government of Canada held a press conference to announce impending changes to revoke much of what Bill C-24 had set out to accomplish. The proposed amendments are set out in Bill C-6: An Act to Amend the Citizenship Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act, and affect both the Citizenship Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

Bill C-6 intends to reduce the residency requirement for citizenship to 3 out of 5 years and reinstate provisions allowing for the days spent in Canada prior to permanent residence to count as half-days towards the residency requirement for citizenship, up to a maximum credit of one year. Residency will continue to be calculated as days of physical presence in Canada, in accordance with Bill C-24, however there will no longer be the physical residence requirement of 183 days in Canada in each calendar year.

Bill C-6 also proposes to revert to the pre-Bill C-24, the age range for language and knowledge testing of 18-54; to repeal the provision requiring that a permanent resident have the intent to reside in Canada; and to repeal the 'national interest grounds' basis for allowing citizenship revocation. Bill C-6 completed its second reading in the House of Commons on March 10, 2016, and will likely be implemented in the near future.

The Government of Canada has also indicated its commitment to family reunification and the intention to restore the maximum age for dependents from 19 to 22 and to re-examine the conditional permanent residence requirements for sponsored spouses. While there is no legislation currently in the House of Commons on these issues, they are addressed in Citizenship, Refugees and Immigration Canada's Report on Plans and Priorities 2016 – 2017. Changes to conditional permanent residence would allow sponsored spouses to obtain permanent resident status upon arrival in Canada and removing the two-year waiting period currently imposed on some spouses. 

The Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour has also announced the intention to review the entire system for temporary foreign workers to ensure that it promotes sustainable national economic growth and development.

More announcements are likely to come as the Government of Canada seeks to address family reunification through simplified procedures for permanent residence, explore opportunities for more parents and grandparents to obtain permanent residence and repeal other legislation that is viewed as no longer fitting with Canadian priorities.

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.

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