Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen announced today that significant changes to Canadian citizenship rules, including how long a newcomer has to be in the country to be eligible, will take effect next week.
Making the announcement today in Brampton, ON , Hussen said the changes undo barriers the former Conservative government put in place.
Under the changes that take effect Oct. 11, would-be citizens will have to have been in Canada for three of the last five years before they apply.
Another key change also taking effect will be how time spent in Canada before foreigners become permanent residents is counted. Currently, the time people are in the country — studying, working, visiting, or as refugees — does not count as being present for citizenship-eligibility purposes, even if they have been here for years.
The new rules will allow such individuals to count half the time they have spent in Canada to a maximum of one year, meaning that once they become permanent residents, they would only need to be in the country for an additional two years to apply for citizenship.
Only newcomers aged of 18 to 54 will have to take and pass a citizenship knowledge and language test.
Another rule, requiring applicants to be in Canada for 183 days each year, has been causing “real hardship” and is being scrapped under implementation of Bill C-6.
Hussen, himself a Somali immigrant who came to Canada in 1993 as a 16-year-old, said that immigrants are a crucial part of the country’s economy and social fabric, and the changes go a distance toward recognizing those facts.