Friday, December 27, 2013

Canada to toughen eligibility requirements for citizenship

Canada to toughen eligibility requirements for citizenship
OTTAWA — The federal government is poised to deliver on what’s been dubbed the “first comprehensive reforms to the Citizenship Act in more than a generation.”
Aimed at strengthening the value of Canadian citizenship, there’s much speculation as to what will be in the highly anticipated and potentially controversial bill to be tabled in 2014.
Considered the final frontier in the government’s massive overhaul of the Citizenship and Immigration (CIC) file, the changes will be spearheaded by newly minted Immigration Minister Chris Alexander who, with other stakeholders, spoke to Postmedia News about what’s in store.
How long is long enough before you can apply for citizenship?
Permanent residents must reside in Canada for at least three of the previous four years to qualify.
Alexander said it’s time to consider increasing the threshold.
“I think the balance of considerations is in favour of a longer requirement,” he said. “There’s only one way of truly understanding what it means to be Canadian, what it means to participate in Canadian life, and that is by living here.”
Alexander wouldn’t give numbers, but Vancouver lawyer and immigration policy analyst Richard Kurland thinks extending the timeframe to four-in-six years would be suitable. He thinks it would also be wise to require applicants to submit at least two income tax returns.
Just because you’re born here doesn’t make you Canadian
Former immigration minister Jason Kenney was adamant: Granting citizenship based on place of birth is “outdated” and the rules need to change to prevent the proliferation of passport babies.
While it hasn’t exactly softened its tone, the government has, perhaps, not figured out how to deal with the issue just yet.
“It’s something we need to look at. There is clearly abuse,” Alexander said. “People who come here as birth tourists solely for the purpose of acquiring citizenship for newborns and without any intention of immigrating and living here permanently — we need to find a way of addressing that.”
Kurland warns the government will have a legal fight on its hands if it heads down this road. While a number of European countries have created databases containing family trees that can be shared with other countries, Kurland calls a serious breach of privacy that’s got some ethnic groups particularly worried.
“If they dare tinker with that, I’m coming out with all pistols loaded,” he said, noting Muslims, for example, worry about the behaviour of relatives who could land them on a no-fly list.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Parent and Grandparent Program gearing up for re-launch

By cutting immigration backlogs and wait times, the Government is bringing families together more quickly, Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced today.
Over the first six months of 2013, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) admitted 45,000 permanent residents to Canada in the Family Class (FC). This represents an increase of 40 percent over the first six months of 2012. This increase can be attributed almost entirely to a doubling of admissions in the Parent and Grandparent (PGP) category over that time period.
Canada has one of the most generous family reunification programs in the world, but growing backlogs in the PGP program meant families could expect to wait eight years or more to bring their loved ones from overseas. A pause on new applications, combined with high admission levels, has helped reduce the backlog. The PGP program re-opens to new applications on January 2, 2014. It will re-open with tighter admission criteria and a cap on applications, which will continue to reduce the backlog and improve wait times for families.
Application forms, guides and information on how to apply to the new PGP program will be made available online on December 31, 2013, just ahead of the PGP program re-opening.

Quick facts

  • In 2011, under Phase I of the Action Plan for Faster Family Reunification, the Government cut backlogs and wait times for sponsored parents and grandparents. Had no action been taken, it was predicted that the backlog could increase to 250,000 persons, with wait times of 15 years by 2015.
  • Of the 45,000 FC permanent residents admitted to Canada in the first six months of 2013, approximately 22,530 spouses and partners were admitted as permanent residents under the FC as well as 1,410 children, 20,700 parents, grandparents and their dependants as well as 360 other relatives and adopted children.
  • The Parent and Grandparent Super Visa remains a fast and convenient option for parents and grandparents who want to spend longer periods of time with their families in Canada. To date, approximately 28,000 Super Visas have been issued with an approval rate of almost 85 percent. With more than 1,000 Super Visas being issued monthly, this has become one of CIC’s most popular initiatives.


Our government understands the importance of spending time with family and loved ones, especially during the holiday season. Our government is making improvements to the immigration system so that families can be reunited more quickly. Because of our changes, Canada is on track to welcome more than 50,000 parents and grandparents in 2012-2013—the highest number in nearly a decade.”
Chris Alexander, Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister