Canada

Applicants 65 years and above no longer need to pass language and knowledge requirement

By Ted Alcuitas

Permanent residents will find it easier to become citizens of Canada after changes to the naturalization proces comes into effect next week on October 14.

Among major changes announced by the government is the reduction of the residency requirement to three years from four.

Applicants above 65 years of age will no longer be required to pass a language and knowledge test , a requirement that was a major obstacle experienced by seniors who arrived in the country at a later age.

The changes were announced on  October 4 by  Immigration, Minister Ahmed Hussen who said that the government ” have a responsibility to ease their path to Canadian citizenship.”

Previously, applicants for citizenship had to amass 1,460 days (four years) of residence in Canada within a six-year period, all of it on permanent status, before applying for citizenship, the Canadian Immigration Newsletter (CIC) reported.

Applicants are now only required to have amassed 1,095 days (three years) of residence in Canada over a five-year period before becoming eligible.

Further, individuals who spent time in Canada on work or study status or as a protected person before becoming a permanent resident may count up to 365 days of this time as a temporary resident towards their overall residency days.

In such cases, each actual day spent in Canada on such a temporary status is counted as a half-day (in other words, for every two days spent in Canada on eligible temporary status, one day may be counted towards citizenship eligibility, up to a maximum of 365 days).

For citizens-to-be who came to Canada to work or study, this important change may reduce the amount of time one has to spend in Canada as a permanent resident before being eligible for citizenship, in some cases from four years down to as little as two years.

In addition, as of next week the government will no long require applicants for citizenship to be physically present in Canada for 183 days or more in four out of the six years preceding their application.

“With these changes — with the ease of the physical presence requirements, for example — and the flexibility that we are introducing to those requirements means that permanent residents will be able to apply for citizenship sooner, but they will also be able to have the flexibility to do so,” stated Minister Hussen.

Other changes to the Citizenship Act will also come into effect on October 11.