Community groups that work with newcomers to Canada have recently begun urging eligible permanent residents to apply for Canadian citizenship sooner rather than later, with changes to citizenship eligibility coming into effect in the near future.
In June of 2014, the federal government passed Bill C-24, the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act, which makes a number of changes to the eligibility of permanent residents to apply for Canadian citizenship.
Among the more controversial aspects of the new law are the provisions that make obtaining Canadian citizenship more difficult for permanent residents.
Prior to the new law’s effective date, permanent residents qualify for Canadian citizenship after spending 3 of 4 years in Canada. Individuals between the ages of 18 and 55 are also required to prove their proficiency in English or French through a language test.
The changes outlined in the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act increase the amount of time a permanent resident is required to spend in Canada from 3 of 4 years to 4 of 6 years, and also require more permanent residents to prove their language abilities. When the law comes into effect, all individuals between the ages of 14 and 65 will now be required to take the language proficiency test.
The new changes to citizenship eligibility do not go into effect until June of 2015, putting permanent residents in a precarious position whereby they may be eligible for citizenship today but become ineligible when the new law comes into effect.
Additionally, individuals who are over the age of 55 but under the age of 65 can apply for citizenship without being required to take proficiency tests until the new changes come into effect, at which point it may be more difficult for them to obtain citizenship due to the testing requirement.
Community groups are urging permanent residents who are currently eligible for Canadian citizenship to apply now before the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act comes into effect to ensure they have the best chance of success in their application for Citizenship.
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