December 3 2015
New Criteria for Citizenshiip Intent
One of the main changes is an increase of the total number of days an applicant must physically have been present in Canada before submitting an application.
To a Canadian citizen, one must either be born in Canada or become one through naturalization. This legal process requires first to have been admitted to Canada as a permanent resident, then live a number of days in Canada (the well-known “physical presence”). Before 2015, the law required that an applicant be present in Canada 1,095 days during the four years immediately before the date of application. The required minimum is now 1,460 days during the six years preceding the application. Another requirement has been added: a permanent resident must effectively be in Canada at least 183 days during each of the four calendar years of the six years preceding the application for citizenship.
Another modification was introduced last spring: the intent to reside in Canada. Applicants must state during the naturalization process that they intend to continue to reside in Canada after obtaining their citizenship and to comply with their tax obligations. It is expected of permanent residents, and even more so of citizens, to be Canadian tax residents and therefore pay all their taxes to Canada.
Any future Canadian citizen must also speak one of the two official languages. While this is not a new requirement, it now applies to applicants aged 14 to 64. Previously, this requirement only applied to applicants aged 18 to 54.
Lastly, these new provisions include increased penalties in case of fraud or false statements.
In the end, is it that easy to become a Canadian citizen?
For many immigrants, naturalization is the logical conclusion and defining moment of a lifelong project. Although it seems logical to ask of future Canadians to live a minimal amount of time in their adopted country, demanding four years penalizes many permanent residents, particularly those who agree to temporarily work abroad at the request of their Canadian employers.
As a result, we may speculate on the intent requirement and particularly its eventual link with taxation. For example, would naturalized citizens who for professional reasons must work abroad lose their Canadian nationality?
Furthermore, processing applications requires a certain amount of time. While Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s (CIC) target deadlines are twelve months, current processing times are easily twice that. Add to that not only the processing time to obtain permanent resident status, but also the time required to qualify for naturalization.
Just as an example, a Belgian citizen works for a year in Montreal. He applies at the end of that year for permanent resident status. He will have to wait between 12 to 18 months to obtain this status. Then, he will only be eligible to apply for citizenship four years later and will obtain said citizenship within 12 months (according to CIC). In total, in this “perfect” scenario, more than seven years will have passed between his arrival in Canada and obtaining a passport.
In the end, the main issue is Canada’s position when it comes to attracting executives, engineers, and technicians to develop cutting-edge products and technologies and make Canadian companies tomorrow’s world leaders. Asking an engineer sought after by American or Asian companies to wait seven years may not be the best strategy.