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Citizenship Act Revised

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OTTAWA, December 7, 1998 — The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and M.P. for Westmount-Ville-Marie, Lucienne Robillard, today tabled a new citizenship act.

The Citizenship of Canada Act constitutes the first major reform with respect to citizenship in more than twenty years.

“The time had come to modernize the Act, in order that it might better reflect the true value of Canadian citizenship,” said Minister Robillard.

The new act introduces changes for citizens by birth, as well as for persons who wish to become Canadians. Changes have also been made in the implementation and control of the process for the granting of citizenship.

Canada intends to first of all honor its great humanitarian tradition and apply the principles of justice and fairness from birth.

Children born in Canada will continue to be granted Canadian citizenship automatically. Children born abroad to a Canadian parent will continue to have the right to citizenship. The second generation of children born abroad will be able to enjoy Canadian citizenship, up to the age of 28, at which time they will lose citizenship unless they have lived in Canada. With respect to adoption, the new act greatly lessens the distinctions between natural-born children and adopted children. Thus, a foreign child adopted by a Canadian parent will obtain citizenship, without having to go through the immigration process.

The new act also specifies the criteria for obtaining citizenship. New Canadians will have demonstrated their attachment to their adopted country.

Thus, new Canadian citizens will have to have accumulated three years of physical presence in the country. The three years of residence in Canada will be within a five-year, rather than a four-year, period. An additional reference year has been added to take into account the impact of the globalization of the economy on people’s movements. New Canadian citizens will also be familiar with the values of Canadian society and be able to express themselves in one of the two official languages.

The new act also simplifies the process for the granting of citizenship. In future, applications will be forwarded to citizenship officers for decision. The Minister will have the power to review a decision in cases where the rejection of an application will have resulted from an important error. Applicants will have access to a mechanism for judicial review in the Federal Court.

Moreover, judges will become commissioners and will be called upon to promote the values symbolized by Canadian citizenship, such as a sense of civic responsibility and respect for the law. The oath to be sworn by new Canadian citizens will better reflect the values dear to Canadians. In addition to swearing allegiance to the Queen, new Canadians will demonstrate their allegiance to Canada.

The coming into force of the Citizenship of Canada Act is planned for 1999.