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BartLAW News and Canadian Citizenship Law Changes

Jacqueline Bart featured Top Canadian Corporate Immigration Specialist for Canada in 2015 by Law Business Research Ltd.

Jacqueline Bart was rated as the “most highly regarded individual” for corporate immigration law in Canada. Ms. Bart also ranks 5th in corporate immigration for North America.  This research was conducted Law Business Research Ltd., the law research sponsor of the American Bar Association SIL. Worldwide corporate immigration nominees were selected based upon comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and private practice lawyers worldwide. It is not possible to buy entry into this publication. Only specialists who have met independent international research criteria are listed. A list of the top 10 highly regarding individuals practicing corporate immigration law in North America are listed here.

Recent Changes to the Citizenship Act

Last year, the Canadian government passed the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act, which received Royal Assent on June 19, 2014. The new legislation introduced a number of changes to the process of obtaining Canadian citizenship, which only recently came into effect on June 11, 2015.

Eligibility

In order to be eligible for Canadian citizenship, the new legislation requires permanent residents to:

  1. Be physically be present in Canada 4 years within a 6 year period (rather than 3 years within a 4 year period),
  2. Be physically be present in Canada for 183 days (minimum) per year, in each of 4 calendar years within the 6 year period;
  3. pay higher processing fees (adults $530 and children $100);
  4. discount any pre-permanent residence time in Canada from the physical presence requirements;
  5. meet language requirements and pass the citizenship test from the ages of 14 to 64; and
  6. file Canadian taxes throughout the permanent residence eligibility period to be eligible for citizenship.

Revocation of Citizenship

More controversially, the legislation includes new grounds to revoke Canadian citizenship from dual citizens who are convicted of terrorism, high treason, and/or treason or spying offences.  Revocation is dependent on the sentences received.  The new Citizenship Act changes also authorize Canada to revoke citizenship from dual citizens for serving as a member in an armed force of a country, or an organized non-state entity engaged in an armed conflict with Canada.

Under this new revocation system, the Citizenship Act provides authority to revoke Canadian citizenship to both the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the Federal Court, with the majority of revocation cases decided by the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

CIC is authorized to revoke citizenship in cases involving residence fraud, concealing criminal charges or convictions, identity fraud or convictions for terrorism, high treason, treason or spying offences, depending on the sentence received.  However, complex revocation cases including those involving war crimes and crimes against humanity, along with other fraud cases involving security, human or international rights violations and organized criminality, will be decided by the Federal Court by way of a finding of inadmissibility, which would lead to removal from Canada.

The government has also brought into force the following provisions regarding the effects of citizenship revocation:

  • 10-year bar on re-acquiring citizenship for individuals whose citizenship is revoked under existing fraud grounds, an increase over the previous 5-year bar;
  • Permanent bar on re-acquiring citizenship for individuals whose citizenship is revoked under the new statutory grounds;
  • An application for a renunciation of the citizenship cannot be accepted in cases where the Minister has initiated a revocation proceeding; and
  • A prohibition on obtaining a grant of citizenship or taking the oath of citizenship for a period of 5 years for those who directly or indirectly misrepresent or withhold material circumstances relating to a relevant matter that induces or could induce an error in the administration of this Act.

The new provisions have been widely criticized by bar associations, Amnesty International and civil liberties groups for creating a second class of Canadian citizens and for heavy-handedness, and for discriminating against dual citizens by implying that they have less rights and are less ‘Canadianized’ that Canadian born citizens. The main concern is that the revocation system essentially creates two tiers of Canadian citizenship. The first tier is made of up those who are not dual citizens and who are not eligible to hold another citizenship, the majority of whom are Canadian-born citizens. This first tier of citizens cannot have their citizenship revoked under this system, and therefore their citizenship is secure and permanent. The second tier is comprised of dual citizens and those who are eligible for another citizenship, the majority of whom obtain Canadian citizenship by grant. It is this second tier of Canadian citizens whose citizenship can be revoked under this new process, making their status as Canadian citizens insecure and putting their rights at risk, hence the coining of term “second-class citizen”.

The most controversial aspect of the new legislation, however, is that it authorizes the CIC minister or delegate to make revocations, instead of the Federal Court. The bulk of revocation cases will be decided by the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada and will be decided without a hearing in person and without a right to appeal, creating significant concerns with the rule of law and the rights of Canadian citizens subject to this process.

The government has forged ahead in implementing the legislation, notwithstanding these concerns.  Unquestionably, we can expect court challenges ahead as the courts and government find their way through this controversial legislative package.

Law Firm Announcements

  • BartLAW sponsored a UIA Event for the Immigration and Nationality Commission entitled: “Global Immigration Though Investment and the Institutions That Support Both”, Washington, D.C., June 16, 2015.
  • Carrie Wright is BartLAW’s Employer Immigration Investigations and Compliance Team Lead, a new firm department designed to pre-emptively identify potential employer compliance issues and investigations, including defense work.
  • Jacqueline Bart chaired and spoke at the American Bar Association SIL on “Corporate, Employment, Immigration and Family Law Implications of Human Trafficking and Human Smuggling” May 1, 2015 (Washington, DC).
  • Jacqueline Bart was the course designer, leader and speaker “Transitioning Temporary Foreign Workers to Permanent Residents” May 21, 2015, Federated Press, Toronto.
  • BartLAW won another Spousal Sponsorship Appeal at the IAD in Toronto, on July 22, 2015, maintaining a perfect record of Spousal Sponsorship approvals during Ms. Bart’s 25 years’ of practice.

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