The CCR believes that citizenship laws and policies must:
- Respect the principle that all citizens are equal.
- Embrace newcomers and encourage them to quickly become full participating members of our society.
- Recognize the barriers that some newcomers face to full participation, including the particular barriers faced by refugees who have suffered persecution and long years of deprivation.
- Respect the principle that citizenship is a status from which rights derive, and is thus similar to our status as human beings. It is not something that can be lost through behaviour.
- Have clear and transparent criteria about acquisition and loss of citizenship.
- Ensure that individuals have access to a fair hearing before an independent decision-maker, with the right of appeal. Decisions should not be made on a discretionary basis by the Minister.
Canadian Citizenship: Harder to get, easier to lose
Citizenship matters have come onto the agenda recently.
- Barriers to acquiring citizenship. Effective June 11, 2015, applicants must wait 4 years before being able to apply for citizenship (up from 3 years). More applicants (younger and older) must now prove they can speak English or French and pass the knowledge test. Processing times for citizenship applications are 2 years. Many applicants in 2013 were required to complete a detailed, extra “Residence Questionnaire” leading to further delays. Since late 2012 applicants must provide proof of language proficiency (at their own expense) - a barrier, especially for vulnerable refugees. For more information, see Barriers to Citizenship for Newcomers to Canada.
- Recent changes to the law make it easier to lose citizenship, particularly for those with dual citizenship. Provisions in Bill C-24 allowing dual citizens to lose their status came into effect in May 2015. You can read the CCR's comments on Bill C-24.
- Cessation. Recent changes to the law mean that people in Canada who have refugee (protected person) status can more easily lose their right to remain in Canada and face deportation. See the one-pager with basic information on cessation.