Canada seeks to cut down on passports of convenience

OTTAWA,  (Reuters) – Canada will toughen citizenship rules to prevent foreigners from picking up Canadian passports of convenience without spending much time in the country, part of a sweeping package of reforms under legislation introduced on Thursday.

Canada remains one of countries most open to immigration and plans to attract about 250,000 a year, in part because it needs workers to make up for a low birth rate. But the new rules would try to prevent abuse of the citizenship process.

The bill would crack down on fraud and give Ottawa the right to strip citizenship from dual citizens who engage in armed conflict with Canada or terrorism, while streamlining the system to reduce the processing time significantly.

“Our government is strengthening the value of Canadian citizenship. Canadians understand that citizenship should not be simply a passport of convenience,” Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander said in a statement.

“Citizenship is a pledge of mutual responsibility and a shared commitment to values rooted in our history.”

The new act will require immigrants to be physically present for four out of six years and declare an “intent to reside.” Currently they have to establish legal residence for three of four years but do not actually have to be physically present or intend to reside in Canada.

Applicants will need greater proficiency in English or French: they will no longer be able to use an interpreter when they take a test on knowledge about Canada. In addition, the age of those subject to language requirements will widen, to 14 to 64 years from the current 18 to 54.

Penalties for fraud will jump to a maximum of C$100,000 ($90,090) from the current C$1,000, and up to five years in prison instead of one year.

Among other changes:

– Applicants must be up to date on Canadian income taxes.

– A rise in adult citizenship application fees to C$300 from C$100, plus an unchanged right-of-citizenship fee of C$100 for successful applicants.

– A faster track to citizenship for those serving with the Canadian Armed Forces.

– A single-step process for citizenship instead of a three-step process, greatly reducing the need for citizenship judges.

The department has a backlog of 350,000 citizenship applications by permanent residents. The new system should cut down the processing time to less than a year by 2016, from the current 24 to 36 months.

The biggest source of new immigrants to Canada is Asia, led by China, the Philippines, India and Pakistan. (US$1=$1.11 Canadian).

More in World News

Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Democrats in disarray on eve of convention to nominate Clinton

PHILADELPHIA,  (Reuters) – The head of the Democratic Party resigned yesterday amid a furor over embarrassing leaked emails, hoping to head off a growing rebellion by Bernie Sanders supporters on the eve of the convention to nominate Hillary Clinton for the White House.

default placeholder

ASEAN deadlocked on South China Sea after Cambodia blocks statement

VIENTIANE,  (Reuters) – South-east Asian nations failed to find common ground on maritime disputes in the South China Sea yesterday after Cambodia stuck to its demand the group make no reference to an international court ruling against Beijing in a statement, diplomats said.

default placeholder

One dead, 12 injured in blast near Nuremberg, Germany -police

BERLIN,  (Reuters) – An explosion killed at least one person and injured 12 others near the German city of Nuremberg yesterday and authorities said it was believed to be intentional.

default placeholder

Islamic State claims responsibility for Kabul attack, 80 dead

KABUL (Reuters) – Twin explosions tore through a demonstration by members of Afghanistan’s mainly Shi’ite Hazara minority in Kabul yesterday, killing at least 80 people and wounding more than 230 in a suicide attack claimed by Islamic State.

default placeholder

Spy agencies struggle to spot threats from lone, mentally ill attackers

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Recent attacks on civilians in the US and Europe have exposed a gap in the intelligence community’s efforts to track suspected extremists and prevent mass killings, a half dozen American, British and French counterterrorism officials told Reuters.

default placeholder

Turkey’s Erdogan shuts schools, charities in first state of emergency decree

ISTANBUL/ANKARA (Reuters) – President Tayyip Erdogan tightened his grip on Turkey yesterday, ordering the closure of thousands of private schools, charities and other institutions in his first decree since imposing a state of emergency after the failed military coup.

Comments

About these comments

The comments section is intended to provide a forum for reasoned and reasonable debate on the newspaper's content and is an extension of the newspaper and what it has become well known for over its history: accuracy, balance and fairness. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments which contain attacks on other users, slander, coarse language and profanity, and gratuitous and incendiary references to race and ethnicity.



Stay updated! Follow Stabroek News on Facebook or Twitter.

Get the day's headlines from SN in your inbox every morning: