Navigating the New Citizenship Act Rules

Although the new Citizenship Act amendments were passed on June 20, 2014, most of the provisions are not yet in force.  This means that if you submit your application before the government enforces the new changes, you will likely be assessed under the old rules.   

If you want to submit an application for Canadian citizenship, you will probably benefit from submitting your application under the old rules.  Here are some of the upcoming changes you should know about:

1. Under the old rules if you have been in Canada for at least 3 out of 4 years, you can qualify for citizenship.  At least two of these years must be after you became a permanent resident.  One of these years can be from before you became a permanent resident (see number 2 below).

Under the new rules you will have to:

  • be in Canada for at least 4 out of 6 years in order to qualify for citizenship;

  • be in Canada for at least 183 days for each of the four years before your application; and

  • file your income tax for each of the four years before your application.

2. Under the old rules if you have lived in Canada before becoming a permanent resident, you may be able to get up to one year credit of residence towards qualifying for citizenship.

Under the new rules you will no longer be able to get credit for being in Canada before you were a permanent resident.

3. Under the old rules if you're over the of 55 or under the age of 18, you are currently exempt from having to take the Citizenship exam or English exam.

Under the new rules anyone between the ages of 14-65 will be required to write the English exam and take the Citizenship exam.

4. Under the old rules you do not have to show intent to remain in Canada after you apply for citizenship.

Under the new rules you have to show that you intend to remain in Canada after you become a citizen.

Please note: New provisions came into effect on August 1 which only allow complete applications to be accepted for processing.  If your application is incomplete it will be returned to you and will be assessed based on the rules that are in place when you resubmit your application.  

So far, the government has given little warning as to when the new rules will be in effect.  For example, on August 1 the provisions regarding citizenship judge powers, completion of files, and requirements for judicial review came into force on the same day this was announced.  There have been rumors that the new provisions regarding residency will come into force next spring or summer but these are unconfirmed.

It is very important, therefore, if you qualify under the old rules, to submit a complete application as soon as possible.

If you have any questions you can contact us at (416) 548-9101, or at