Under New Proposed Law, Canadian Citizenship Is Harder To Get And Easier To Lose
The proposed changes to the Citizenship Act will create unfair barriers to citizenship and make citizenship inaccessible to many. The proposed law will:
- Grant government officials authority to deny citizenship on sheer speculation that an applicant does not intend to reside in Canada in the future;
- Extend the formal residency requirement during which an applicant must live as a permanent resident in Canada from 3 to 4 years. This represents a hardship, since processing times for citizenship are extremely long. Applicants today wait 4-6 years to become citizens due to government delay and inefficiency, and may have to wait even longer under the new system;
- Make it harder for students, workers, and refugees to become citizens by denying them the ability to count any of their time in Canada prior to becoming permanent residents when applying for citizenship;
- Extend the costly language testing process to include applicants aged 14-64, rather than applicants aged 18-55, as under the current system. Under the new proposed law, children and grandparents would have to pass difficult language tests or risk never becoming citizens;
- Dramatically increase the cost of applying for citizenship by tripling the application fee, which will be added to the new cost imposed on applicants a year ago when the government privatized language testing. As a result, the price of applying for citizenship will now cost 4 times more than it did in 2006;
- Remove a right of appeal to the Federal Court for refused citizenship applicants – continuing a theme of greater bureaucratic control over citizenship decision-making and less judicial oversight over the process.
Citizenship will be easier to take away
The proposed changes to the Citizenship Act will create second-class citizens with fewer rights than other Canadians, whose citizenship will be more insecure. The new law will:
- Replace the right to an oral hearing before an independent judge in most revocation proceedings with a written review by a bureaucrat acting under the direction of the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration;
- Put all naturalized citizens under the implicit threat of having their citizenship revoked, by making it possible for government officials to strip someone of citizenship if they believe that person never intended to live in Canada. This could happen if a naturalized Canadian decides to study, accept a job, or even move in with a romantic partner outside of Canada. In contrast, Canadian citizens by birth never have to worry that time spend away from Canada might put their citizenship status at risk;
- Allow officials to take away a person’s citizenship based on criminal convictions that occur outside of Canada, regardless whether the regime or judicial system under which the person was convicted is undemocratic or lacks the rule of law;
- Bring back the ancient punishment of exile or banishment – abandoned centuries ago – by allowing government officials to strip citizenship from dual citizens based on certain convictions in Canada even though the citizen will already have been properly punished by the Canadian criminal justice system. This will include Canadians who were born in Canada.
(Source : carl-acaadr.ca)