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New Changes to Canada’s Citizenship Act

In May 2015, important changes were made to the Citizenship Act. These new changes enable Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to implement measures by which it can revoke citizenship without having to go before the courts, and based on new grounds for revocation.

Before these changes were made, citizenship could be revoked where an individual obtained, retained, renounced or resumed citizenship by false representation or fraud, or by knowingly concealing material circumstances (i.e. providing false information on a permanent residence or citizenship application). Now, a person with dual citizenship can also lose their citizenship if:

  1. convicted of treason, high treason, or spying offences and sentenced to imprisonment to life;
  2. convicted of a terrorism offence in Canada or an equivalent offence outside of Canada, and sentenced to at least five (5) years of imprisonment; or
  3. served as a member of an armed force or organized armed groups engaged in an armed conflict with Canada.

A person whose citizenship is revoked on the basis of one of these enumerated grounds loses their permanent resident status, and becomes a foreign national.

Under the old system, revocation of citizenship entailed a 3-step process: (i) a report indicating that the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship is satisfied that the person obtained citizenship fraudulently; (ii) the person, once notified of the report, can request that the matter be referred to the Federal Court for a hearing; and (iii) if the Court find that citizenship was obtained fraudulently, the Governor in Council decides whether to revoke citizenship.

Now, the citizenship revocation process has been reduced to one (1) step: in most cases, IRCC will make the decision to revoke citizenship without involving the courts. A hearing before the Federal Court will only be held in cases involving war crimes and crimes against humanity, as well as cases regarding security, human or international rights violations and organized criminality.

If you are affected by these new changes to the Citizenship Act, it is highly recommended that you seek legal advice and representation.


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