IRCC Minister Transition Binder 2019: Citizenship
Introduction to Citizenship
- Citizenship is an entirely federal responsibility governed by the 1977 Citizenship Act.
- The Act defines who is Canadian and who may become Canadian.
Birth on Soil
Any child born in Canada is Canadian, with the exception of children of foreign diplomats and other employees or representatives of a foreign government.
- Canada’s birth on soil policy has been in place since the first Canadian Citizenship Act in 1947.
- Canada is among approximately 30 countries, mostly in the Americas, that provide for automatic citizenship for those born on its territory.
- For the approximately 385,000 children born in Canada annually, a birth certificate serves as their proof of citizenship.
Any child born outside Canada is Canadian if one of the parents was either born in Canada or became a naturalized Canadian before the birth of the child.
- The Citizenship Act limits passing citizenship to the first generation born abroad.
- This first generation limit provides automatic citizenship to a child born abroad if one of the parents was born in Canada or was a naturalized Canadian at the time of birth.
- Any child born abroad in the second generation (or beyond) may seek citizenship through naturalization.
- The Canadian parent may sponsor their child for permanent residency.
- The Canadian parent may then apply for a grant of citizenship for their minor child, with minimal requirements needing to be met.
Anyone who meets specified requirements as set out in the Act may apply for a grant of citizenship to become Canadian.
- Individuals may seek to become Canadian by applying for a grant of citizenship, and meeting the requirements of the Citizenship Act. In addition to having permanent resident status, requirements for a regular grant include:
- physical presence in Canada (1,095 days within the past five years)
- official language proficiency (18-54 years of age)
- passing the citizenship knowledge test (18-54 years of age)
- filing income taxes (if required by law)
- absence of any prohibition (e.g., criminal conviction)
- swearing the Oath of Citizenship (14 years or older)
- Applicants who meet the requirements are invited to take their Oath of Citizenship at a citizenship ceremony, at which point they become citizens.
- The 2016 census reported that 85.8% of eligible permanent residents have become citizens.
The Act provides for various grants of citizenship, including a discretionary authority to alleviate cases of statelessness, special and unusual hardship, or to reward services of an exceptional value to Canada. The Minister or his/her delegate has the authority to grant citizenship under the Act.
Why Citizenship Matters to Newcomers
As described by the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants:
- You will be able to work in all jobs
- There are no residency requirements to stay a citizen
- You can vote
- You can get involved in politics
- You can continue getting social benefits
- You cannot be deported
- You can travel easily
- Your children will be Canadian
- You don’t need to renew your PR card
- You can get consular support
The Citizenship Program
The Citizenship Program administers citizenship legislation along the following lines of business:
Provided to permanent residents who have applied and successfully met the Act’s requirements for citizenship
Proof of Citizenship
Provided to Canadian citizens looking to confirm their claim to citizenship or to replace their certificate
Individuals may apply to renounce their citizenship if they meet certain requirements including being at least 18 years old and demonstrating that they have another citizenship
Individuals may have their citizenship revoked by the Federal Court if it was acquired through fraud or misrepresentation unless the individual requests the decision be made by the Minister
Citizenship Numbers by Program Activity
|DecisionsFootnote 1||2018 to March 2019||April 1, 2019 to July 31, 2019|
|New citizensFootnote 2||207,994||86,306|
Uptake of Citizenship
- The 2016 census reported an overall naturalization rate of 85.8%, a small increase from the 85.6% rate measured in 2011.
- Recent research suggests a decline in uptake rates, especially among those within five to nine years of landing (from 75.4% in 1996 down to 60.4% in 2016).
- Research has shown that citizenship leads to better economic outcomes and a stronger sense of belonging.
|Year||All immigrants||Adult immigrants who landed five to nine years ago|
- The number of citizenship grant applications received in 2018-2019 was 250,173, which was a 130% increase from 2016-2017.
- The volume of grant applications is expected to increase with growing immigration levels.
- IRCC’s Citizenship Program is also responsible for citizenship awareness activities which include offering educational resources and holding citizenship ceremonies. These activities aim to:
- Increase knowledge of rights, responsibilities, and privileges of Canadian citizenship
- Encourage naturalization
- Promote core citizenship competencies to all Canadians
- Citizenship judges are Governor-in-Council appointees, whose primary roles are to conduct promotional activities, preside at citizenship ceremonies, and make decisions on a small number of citizenship grant applications.
- 10 citizenship judges
- Promotional activities are mandated by the Minister of IRCC, while ceremonial and decision-making authorities are set out in regulations and legislation.
Citizenship Awareness Activities
IRCC develops and administers the citizenship test and publishes a citizenship study guide, which includes all of the information required to pass the citizenship knowledge test.
Citizenship ceremonies are a rite of passage that pinpoint the moment someone becomes a Canadian citizen. These ceremonies also help raise awareness of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship in communities across Canada.
- 2,500 citizenship ceremonies are held annually.
- Over 250 community partners host ceremonies at venues such as schools, libraries, city halls, and parks.
- High-profile citizenship ceremonies take place during Citizenship Week and on Canada Day.
- Increasing immigration levels and growing volumes of applications for citizenship grants are challenging the Citizenship Program’s ability to meet the established 12-month service standard.
- The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 2015 report included 94 “Calls to Action,” including a recommendation that the Government amend the Oath of Citizenship to add reference to “Treaties with Indigenous peoples.”
- A change to the Oath of Citizenship would require an Act of Parliament.
- Work could be quickly undertaken by the Department to propose changes to the Act to respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
- Citizenship is a wholly federal responsibility that is governed by the Citizenship Act, and can be attained by birth on soil, descent, or naturalization.
- Canadian citizens have a number of rights and privileges (e.g., the right to vote, a Canadian passport) that are not available to non-citizens. These can factor into the decision to become a Canadian citizen.
- IRCC’s Citizenship Program provides services related to citizenship acquisition, renunciation, and revocation in support of the Act, the largest of which is grants of Canadian citizenship.
- IRCC, in partnership with the non-governmental sector, promotes understanding of the rights, responsibilities, and privileges of Canadian citizenship.
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