On February 6, 2014 Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander launched a “Blueprint for Citizenship Improvements“ as a part of the government’s introduction of Bill C-24 (Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act).
While the new rules and requirements specified in the bill make much sense in terms of strengthening the value of Canadian citizenship by requiring more commitment from individuals expressing interest to become Canadian citizens, it unfairly targets and devalues the contributions made by one specific group of immigrants, namely, former foreign workers and international students who became Canadian permanent residents in the recent years.
Unlike other new immigrants, families and individuals who gained their permanent residence under the Canadian Experience Class or Provincial Nominee Program have been living and working in Canada for several years (the vast majority residing in Canada for 3-5 years and even as long as 10 years in case of international students). This group of immigrants has already fully integrated into the Canadian economy and social life long before they became permanent residents. They have been paying taxes and contributing to the Canadian economy for several years before they earned the right to become permanent residents. The above facts have been acknowledged by Canadian government numerous times in various publications, in general media, and on the website of the Department of Canadian Immigration and Citizenship. As recognition of the success of the temporary residence programs, the current citizenship requirements allow to count each day spent in Canada on an authorized work or study permit as half day towards the residency requirements for citizenship applications. Overall, up to 365 out of the required 1095 days of residence could be gained under temporary residency status.
Nevertheless, with the introduction of Bill C-24, the achievements, contributions, and rights of these individuals are being stepped over by the Canadian government. Under one of the bill provisions, the time spent in Canada on temporary study and work permits will no longer be counted towards citizenship applications. Effectively, the residency requirement for a former foreign worker or student who lived in Canada for at least 2 years before becoming a permanent resident is going to be extended twice as much as for the rest of the immigrant population (by 2 years instead of 1). Not only is this contrary to statements made by the Canadian government about the importance of integration and the success of temporary residence programs, it also is contrary to practices of many other countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France and many more who count temporary residence in full towards citizenship applications. Retroactive introduction of such rules will make an unreliable reputation to Canadian immigration system and will turn away thousands of prospective students and specialists whose annual contribution to Canadian economy estimated at more than 7B$ annually!
By signing this petition you will help tens of thousands of former foreign workers and international students to reach politicians’ ears and help them understand that the introduction of Bill C-24 will unfairly treat these people who call Canada their home.