On October 11th, 2017 immigration lawyers received an early Christmas present. The residency obligation required to apply for citizenship was reduced, making many of our clients eligible earlier than originally planned. Previously, applicants must have been physically present in Canada for 4 out of 6 years before qualifying to apply for citizenship. Now, applicants must be physically present in Canada for 3 out of 5 years. Applicants can also get credited ½ days for time spent in Canada as temporary residents, up to a maximum of one year. You can find out whether you meet the new residency requirement by using the physical presence calculator.
Another change is that only individuals between the ages of 18 and 54 must pass the language and knowledge requirements for citizenship. If you are over 54 years old, you do not have to practise your test taking skills.
Initially, the changes did not go smoothly. On the first day, immigration lawyers across Canada were thrown into a frenzied panic as none of the newly typed forms could be printed. IRCC was keeping us on our toes by testing our technological skills. The glitch was eventually fixed by IRCC.
Another problem also emerged. IRCC continues to play one of my favourite childhood games of ‘Spot What’s Missing’. The new Citizenship Document Checklist did not list the Permanent Resident card and Confirmation of Permanent Residence document as being required, when the Instruction Guide said to include them. IRCC has since amended their Instruction Guide.
Then, the application form for adults, CIT 0002 and the form for minors, CIT 0003 were re-released with updated formatting. Since the version date (found at the bottom left corner) of the forms were also 10-2017, the same as the version of the forms released on October 11th, there is no way of knowing if a form dated 10-2017 is the correct version, short of examining the formatting and comparing it to the earlier version.
It certainly was not the smooth roll-out the government was hoping for.
So, before you race to the post office to send in your application, you should be aware that IRCC is no longer accepting any of the old forms. If you do not use the version of the forms currently on the IRCC website, your application will be returned to you as ‘incomplete’. Ensure that you use the new forms when you submit your citizenship application.
If you are unsure about whether you qualify for citizenship or if you need help with the application, then please contact us and we would be happy to assist.