In 2014, Bill C-24 stirred up huge controversy. Essentially, the bill offered two tiers of citizenship – natural born and naturalized – a convoluted and rather controversial move that differentiated between those who were born in Canada and those who migrated in the past.
More importantly, the law also allowed Ottawa to revoke citizenship of anyone convicted of terrorism, treason, or espionage offences inside or outside of Canada – including dual citizens. These regulations were put into place to combat “the ever-evolving threat of Jihadi terrorism,” according to the CBC.
The clause was also so ambiguous that naturalized citizens were forced to declare their intention to make Canada their permanent home – and it left the door open to accuse them of misrepresenting their claims if they were suspected of any kind of “terrorist” behavior which could include leaving Canada for an extended period of time to travel to their home country.
It also made obtaining citizenship for newcomers far more difficult.
Those between the ages of 18 and 54 were required to meet difficult language requirements in English or French prior to entry, pass a Canadian knowledge test, and also made newcomers wait a lot longer to apply for citizenship because of its process. It also imposed a $300 application fee for adult citizenship applicants which increased again in January of 2015 to $530.
What has changed since then?
- The repeal of revocation – The act will no longer be able to revoke citizenship for certain acts against the national interest of Canada including convictions of terrorism, high treason, treason or spying offences depending on the type of sentence received. This also includes memberships in an armed force or organized armed group engagements.
- It’s been proposed to repeal national interest grounds for revocation
- Repeal of intention to reside provision – Applicants will no longer have to prove that their intention is to reside in Canada if granted citizenship.
- Physical Presence in Canada – Rather than having to be physically present for 4 out of 6 years before the date of application for citizenship, the proposed amendment is to be physically present 3 out of 5 years before the date of application.
These amendments to Bill C-24 will make a huge difference for newcomers to Canada and those eventually looking to become Canadian citizens.