Major changes to the Canadian Citizenship Act are expected to be announced over the coming days, with Canada's Immigration Minister stating that the Liberal government will soon follow through on its election pledge to repeal the controversial Bill C-24, which was brought in by the previous Conservative government.
Among other measures, C-24 gave the government the power to revoke Canadian citizenship from dual citizens convicted of terrorism, treason or espionage.
Furthermore, C-24 expanded the age range for mandatory language proficiency testing, from 18 to 54 years of age to 14 to 64, and no longer allowed individuals taking the Canadian knowledge test to use an interpreter.
Revocation of citizenship
Mr. McCallum said the changes will make it impossible for the government to revoke citizenship.
“A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian,” Mr. McCallum said, repeating a line used by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau throughout the election campaign last year. “We would not revoke people’s citizenship. … That will certainly be a part of it [the announcement],” the Immigration Minister added.
The Liberals' election platform commited the party to 'repeal the unfair elements of Bill C-24 that create second-class citizens and the elements that make it more difficult for hard-working immigrants to become Canadian citizens.'
One major point of contention in C-24 was the introduction of more onerous language requirements for newcomers than was previously the case. In a television interview last week, Mr. McCallum stated that the government "may make some modifications to the language testing — that hasn't been announced yet, but we're certainly not ditching it. We could bring it back to [age] 54. That's an adjustment at the margin on the grounds that some older people coming to this country may not be fully proficient in English, although their children will be and their grandchildren certainly will be."
Other potential changes
It is unknown at this time whether the government will merely revert to the previous regulations that were in place immediately before C-24 was introduced, or whether new legislation on citizenship will be introduced. Before C-24, immigrants to Canada had to spend 3 out of 5 years (1,095 days) in Canada as permanent residents in order to become eligible to apply for citizenship, with days spent in Canada with temporary status (such as as a student or foreign worker) counting for half days. C-24 increased the residency requirement to 4 out of 6 years (1,460 days) and removed the half-day provision for individuals who had spent time in Canada on temporary status.
The introduction of C-24 also imposed a $300 application fee for adult citizenship applicants, up from $100.