Canada’s legislative agenda on immigration continues to undergo a tectonic shift under the Conservatives. The implementation of the latest reforms to the Citizenship Act completes a process which began last year and will substantially restrict access to Canadian citizenship. In addition, since January 2015, adult applicants must pay a higher processing fee (raised 430% since 2014) of $530 plus an additional fee of $100 for a right-of-citizenship, if granted.

It is expected the new rules and the much higher costs will result in a substantial reduction in the numbers of applications each year to less than half of Canada’s annual immigration levels. Historically, about 75% of Canada’s annual intake of immigrants would apply for citizenship.

Below is a comparative analysis of the requirements to apply for citizenship.

Citizenship Act




Residency Requirements

Permanent Resident

3 out of 4 years

(1,095/1460 days) immediately prior to filing application

Permanent Resident

4 out of 6 years

(1,460/2190 days) immediately prior to filing application

Language Requirements

Adults aged 18–54 must meet language requirements and pass knowledge test

Applicants aged 14–64 must meet language requirements and pass knowledge test

Physical Presence

No requirement for residents to be physically present in Canada

183 days of physical presence in Canada during each of the 4 calendar years of permanent residence

Intent to reside

No “intent to reside”

Must show “intent to reside”

Time in Canada before Permanent Residence

Time as a non-permanent resident may count towards residence for citizenship

Eliminates consideration for time spent in Canada as a non-permanent resident for most applicants


Misrepresentation on applications could only be considered by RCMP

Applicants can be refused for misrepresenting or withholding material facts with 5-year ban


No requirement to file Canadian income taxes

Requires adult applicants to file annual income tax returns


Consultants not required to be registered or regulated

Consultants required to be registered or regulated

Application Process

Limited authority to define what constitutes a complete application

Defines what constitutes a complete application and what evidence applicants must provide

Decision Process

Citizenship is a three-step decision-making process

Citizenship is a single-step process for most applications


Bars applicants with domestic criminal charges and convictions

Expansion of criminal prohibitions to bar applicants for crimes committed abroad

“Lost Canadians”

Most “Lost Canadians” had citizenship restored in 2009, but small number remained ineligible for citizenship

Extends citizenship to “Lost Canadians” born before 1947 as well as their 1st generation children born abroad

Citizenship by Descent


Citizenship for those born outside of Canada, limited to first generation

Special Processing

No fast-track mechanism to citizenship for members of the military to honour their service to the Canadian Armed Forces

Creates fast-track mechanism to citizenship for individuals serving or on exchange with the Canadian Armed Forces to honour their service to Canada


No authority to revoke citizenship beyond fraud or misrepresentation

Minister may revoke from dual citizens convicted of terrorism, high treason and/or treason or espionage; and most other cases.

Complex cases by Federal Court

Impact of Revocation

10-years existing fraud; permanent on new grounds



No renunciation if Minister initiates process


Federal Court, No Leave

Federal Court, With Leave

Federal Court Appeal

Supreme Court Canada, Leave

Authority to Abandon


Minister may determine application abandoned for failure to comply

Authority to Suspend


Minister may suspend processing for as long as