The minister of Canada Chris Alexander has announced that he will increase the period required for residency before an immigrant becomes eligible for citizenship from three to four years. The bill has been announced at a press conference in Toronto. According to Mr Alexander the new bill will enhance the value which the Canadian citizenship has.
The bill would also quadruple the cost of a Canadian citizenship application from $75 to $300 and massively increase the maximum penalty for ‘residency fraud’ from $1,000 to $100,000. Residency fraud is committed when someone, falsely presents a document that he has lived in Canada when in fact he has been resident of a different country.
In order to get citizenship, any foreigner must have lived in Canada for 1096 days in the last four years. Canadian immigration authorities have been concerned that some individuals, particularly from the Middle East continued to live in their countries of origin and paid to Canadian agents to falsify evidence that they have been residents of Canada, which has helped them to obtain citizenship.
Under the previous immigration minister Jason Kenney, around 3000 people had their Canadian citizenship revoked after it became clear that they have applied with false documents. In addition to that Kenney pointed out that some Canadian agents were providing help to fraudsters by creating those illegal documents.
The new bill would also make Canadian language and citizenship tests considerably harder and extend the requirement to take a language test to all applicants up to the age of 64. Currently, those over 54 are exempt. The opposition party in Canada said that they will have to carefully review new measures before accepting them.
The reason for this is that decline in immigration might have negative consequence for the Canadian economy and the local labour market which relies on qualified professionals from abroad.