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Canada Embraces It’s Dual Citizens While Australia’s Government Throws Itself Into Disarray

December 31st, 2017

Photo by: David Jackmanson

The Literal Interpretation Of The Constitutional Rule Has Created An Unprecedented Political Crisis

You cannot be a dual citizen if you want to work in Australian politics. Their constitution prohibits it. The document, enacted on Jan. 1, 1901, includes a section outlining who can and who cannot sit in the Senate, the upper house of the Australian Parliament. Section 44.1 states that:

“any person who is under acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power, or is a subject or a citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or citizen of a foreign power shall be incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a senator or a member of the House of Representatives.”

It also applies if a person is “entitled to the rights or privileges” of a citizen. This has been interpreted to mean that dual citizens cannot sit in the Australian Parliament. Many of the politicians caught up in the crisis are citizens by descent – as in – they were not born in the country, but inherited the rights of citizenship through their parents. So far, 12 sitting or prospective politicians have fallen foul of section 44 of the constitution, ending their political careers for the foreseeable future. Interestingly, one of the initial members to get caught in the issue was Larissa Waters, who was born in Winnipeg and holds dual Canadian citizenship. She was forced to resign her senate seat when it was revealed that she had not renounced her Canadian citizenship. The whole issue almost left Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s government without its majority – which could have been an unprecedented political event in Australian politics.

Dual and Even Triple Citizenship For Canadian Political Actors Is Increasingly Common

For perspective, the situation is quite different here in Canada. According to the CBC, there are now at least 56 sitting parliamentarians — 44 MPs and 12 senators — born in countries outside Canada, according to information from the Library of Parliament and websites. At least 22 of them have citizenship from other countries and that figure does not include MPs and senators who hold citizenship through descent, naturalization or marriage.

In Canada, the only requirements for seeking a seat in the House of Commons are that you are a Canadian citizen, at least 18 years old, and not serving prison sentence of more than two years. To be a senator in Canada, an individual has to be at least 30 years old, a resident of the province they represent, and own property worth at least $4,000 in that province.


New Year Sees Reinstatement of Parents and Grandparents Program

December 27th, 2017

Parents and Grandparents Program

Canadian citizens and permanent residents will soon be able to take the first step in applying to bring their parents and grandparents to Canada

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada will reinstate its popular Parents and Grandparents Program (PGP) on Jan. 2, 2018. The very popular program permits Canadian citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their parents or grandparents to come to Canada. IRCC implemented a new process in 2017 for sponsorship application intake to make it fairer and more transparent for applicants. Now, potential sponsors must first notify IRCC that they are interested in sponsoring their parents and grandparents by submitting an “Interest to Sponsor” form. Using a random selection process, IRCC will then invite potential sponsors to apply to sponsor their parents and grandparents.

“Family reunification is a priority for the Government of Canada. On January 2, I invite those who are eligible to sponsor to express their interest to bring their parents and grandparents to Canada. Helping more people reunite with their parents and grandparents in Canada demonstrates the government’s commitment to keeping families together, leading to successful integration and stronger ties to Canada.”– The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

The prerequisites to sponsor one’s parents and grandparents to become a permanent resident under the Family Class are that applicants must be at least 18 years old and must be either a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada. You’re also eligible if you meet the age requirement and are a person registered in Canada as an Indian under the Canadian Indian Act.

If you sponsor your parents and grandparents to come to Canada as a permanent resident, you must:

  • Meet certain income requirements
  • Support that person and their dependants financially
  • Meet the minimum necessary income level for this program by submitting notices of assessment issued by the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) in support of their sponsorship.
  • Sponsors must also demonstrate they have met the minimum necessary income level for three consecutive years. If married or in a common-law relationship, the income of both persons can be included; and
  • The sponsor and the sponsored relative must sign a sponsorship agreement that commits the sponsor to provide financial support for the sponsored person for up to 20 years.

Those interested in the program can learn about exclusions and determine eligibility here.

Maryam Monsef Is Waiting On The Government For Paperwork Update

November 28th, 2017

Maryam Monsef

Liberal cabinet minister is still waiting for the government to update her documents

More than a year after Maryam Monsef’s place of birth was revealed to be Iran, and not Afghanistan as originally reported, the Minister is awaiting the changes to her paperwork like any other Canadian.

In September 2016, Maryam Monsef Liberal minister of Democratic Institutions, hailed by the Liberals as Canada’s first Afghan-born MP, was revealed to actually have born in Mashhad, Iran, a city about 200 kilometres away from the border with Afghanistan.  She said her mother, who fled Afghanistan when Monsef was 11, didn’t think it mattered where the minister was born since she was still legally considered an Afghan citizen. By law, she was required to correct her birthplace information on her passport, and under the controversial bill C-24 that the previous Conservative government introduced, she could have had her citizenship revoked, and could even have faced deportation.

“There’s just nothing to tell.”Just like everybody else, I’m waiting my turn. I’m as Canadian as you are. The paperwork is done and when there is news, I will be sure to share it with you.”

As per the CBC, the Immigration Department would not comment specifically on her case, citing privacy reasons, but did outline the potential steps involved should someone need to correct their birthplace on their passport.

Monsef’s origin story raised eyebrows when it first emerged, in part because at the time, the Liberal government was still aggressively enforcing a Conservative law that could strip naturalized Canadian citizens of their status without a hearing, despite having campaigned against it. Misrepresentation remains grounds for being stripped of citizenship, but following the outcome of a Federal Court case earlier this year, the government brought in an appeals process that will come into effect in early 2018.

The Canadian Citizenship Oath Gets Set For A Revision

November 26th, 2017

New Canadians Will Soon Acknowledge and Honour Treaties With First Nations and Indigenous Peoples

As per the CBC, soon, new Canadians will promise to honour treaties with Indigenous peoples as part of their oath during Canadian citizenship ceremonies. This is all as per a mandate letter from Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen, who lists making the change to the swearing-in ceremony one of his key priorities. The proposed change is in line with the recommendations as set out in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action.

“We call upon the government of Canada to replace the Oath of Citizenship with the following: I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, her heirs and successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada, including treaties with Indigenous peoples, and fulfil my duties as a Canadian citizen.”

The current oath does not include the reference to the treaties as proposed to be changed. The call for action was among 94 recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in December 2015, all of which are intended to paint a more accurate and inclusive picture of the Canadian societal and historical fabric. Part of that would include information about the treaties and even the dark history of residential schools.

Independent Senator Murray Sinclair indicated that the final wording will likely see some adjustment, but welcomed the revisions to the citizenship oath as a way to educate immigrants about the country’s history and historical legacy.

“I think it’s out of step with the TRC’s own call to action to renounce the Doctrine of Discovery,” he said in reference to a group of 15th century decrees that were the basis of European explorers’ claims to Aboriginal land – Tom McMahon

Others don’t think it goes far enough. Tom McMahon, who served as general legal counsel to the TRC, said the government should take the opportunity to reword the entire oath. He said one that honours indigenous people but retains a mandatory allegiance to the Queen is incongruent with the “colonialist” past and today’s Charter rights.

Man Fights For His Canadian Identity

October 30th, 2017

Yoani Kuiper

Denied Canadian Citizenship Two Years After Application

Global News has been following and reporting on an interesting story of a man who, after having spent almost his entire adult life in Canada, was denied Canadian citizenship. Jonathan “Yoani” Kuiper was born in the Netherlands, but his family moved to Canada when he was just fourteen months old. He lived in Canada for 27 years. His application was denied because he did not meet the criteria for citizenship according to Canadian immigration rules. The problem lies in the rule.

Permanent residents were previously required (at the time of the application in 2013) to accumulate at least 4 years of worth of residency days out of six years prior to applying. While that’s been recently been changed (now they can accumulate three years out of five), he hadn’t spent a total of the prerequisite four of the six years previous to his application in the country. Previous time spent in the country is not considered, no matter how long you’ve lived in Canada. Kuiper went to Toronto’s York University and helped found a small coffee chain in the city. He moved back to the Netherlands to get his master’s degree, returned to Canada, then took a job in Europe, eventually settling back in the Netherlands.

“My entire life I’ve always identified and understood myself to be Canadian”

He was 597 days short of fulfilling the requirement. While waiting on word back on his application for citizenship, Kuiper’s permanent resident card expired as he assumed his citizenship application would be approved. He is appealing that, but that process can take as long as two years and he won’t be allowed to return to Canada in the meantime. Things got more complicated when after being denied citizenship, there was an error in the ensuing visa process that left him unsure whether he’d be able to come home to see his family any time soon. All this to say, he did recently get some good news this month. His appeal of the decision to have his permanent residency revoked was approved, essentially granting him a five-year extension of his PR status.

“Everywhere I travel I’m recognized as a Canadian, but the only one still not willing to recognize that is the government of Canada.”

The new rules would allow him to earn the opportunity to gain his Canadian citizenship by spending at least three of those years physically present in the country. Regardless, Kuiper isn’t sure if he’s willing to upend his whole life to simply come back to Canada to fulfill the prerequisite conditions to apply for Citizenship. At this point he’s established and cultivated his career and family life in the Netherlands since moving there and questions whether the whole ordeal is worth the trouble. He thinks his case merits newly appointed Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen to intervene and use his discretionary powers – something he can do in extraordinary circumstances in accordance with the newly enshrined changes to the Citizenship Act.

Obtaining Canadian Citizenship Got Easier This Month

October 12th, 2017

Canadian Citizenship

It Just Got Easier To Apply For Canadian Citizenship For Permanent Residents

As of October 11th, permanent residents in Canada can apply for Canadian citizenship — also known as naturalization — easier and sooner than before, following the implementation of measures contained in Bill C-6, which was passed into law last June.

Previously, permanent residents were required to accumulate at least 4 years of worth of residency days out of six years prior to applying. Now, they can accumulate three years out of five. If you’ve spent time in Canada as a foreign worker, international student, or protected person before transitioning to permanent residence may count a portion of this time towards the residency days requirement, where each day spent in Canada on temporary status counts as half a day, up to a maximum of 365 days.

Also –  the government has removed the requirement for applicants for citizenship to be physically present in Canada for 183 days or more in four out of the six years preceding their application, which is another big change.

“We want all permanent residents in Canada to become citizens. That’s our wish, because we value Canadian citizenship, we understand we are a community that continues to welcome people from all over the world. And we understand the importance and the positive role that immigrants play in our economy, in our society, and in our cultural life.” – Minister of Immigration Ahmed Hussen

Other changes include the requirement to file personal income taxes, if required under the Income Tax Act, from four out of six years,  to three out of five, matching the physical presence requirement. As well, previously, applicants between 14 and 64 years had to meet the language and knowledge requirements for citizenship. That age range has now changed to 18-54 years.

Trump New Travel Ban 3.0

September 27th, 2017

As with the previous ban, Canadian dual citizens are unaffected.

Two days ago, President Donald Trump issued a proclamation (Presidential Proclamation Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry Into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats  – the Presidential Proclamation) to limit travel from a handful of countries. His previous attempt at a travel ban sought to block all travel from the previously listed countries temporarily. This one is indefinite and imposes different restrictions for different nations. Three new countries – Chad, North Korea and Venezuela – have been added to the list since the last executive order earlier in the year, and another country, Sudan, was removed from the list altogether. The list now encompasses Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen. The new restrictions include a phased-in approach beginning next month.

The Venezuelan restrictions aim to isolate government officials that the White house blames for the country’s slide into chaos, including officials from the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service and their immediate families.

For the last three months, the President employed an executive order to ban foreign nationals from six Muslim-majority countries from entering the US unless they had a “bona fide” relationship with a person or entity in the country. This is what has come to be known as the “bona fide proviso”. Those nations included Iran, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, and Sudan.

As per the Globe and Mail, Trump’s refugee policies and travel bans have been cited as the driving forces behind a rise in U.S. border crossings by asylum seekers who want refugee status in Canada. Under 2004’s Safe Third Country Agreement between Canada and the United States, refugees who’ve been rejected in one country are prevented from seeking asylum in the other. This means that, if asylum seekers show up at official border crossings, authorities will turn them back. But the deal doesn’t cover people who cross unofficially – so-called “irregular migration” – and then claim asylum once they’re in Canada.

When Dual Citizenship Helps Your Career In Television and Film

September 12th, 2017

Deadpool Star Ryan Reynolds is a Canadian Citizen

Dual citizenship and residency has become a popular way for American filmmakers to find work with producers who get tax breaks when they hire Canadians.

There’s a secret in Hollywood when it comes to producing films. Canada has a lucrative series of tax credits that can save American producers a tremendous amount of money in production costs by simply shooting a movie in Canada and employing Canadian citizens. The credit can be as much as 60% of production costs, depending on the number of “points” a production accumulates. Look at one of last year’s biggest box office hits – Deadpool. It was shot entirely in Vancouver, British Columbia. The principal star, Ryan Reynolds, is Canadian. Deadpool alone hired more than 2,000 crew and cast members and the overall production benefitted greatly from the provincial tax credits it earned as a result. The city of Vancouver, and indirectly  – Canada – also benefitted to more than $40-million in production spending. Win-win!

As per Deadline, the lure of dual citizenship for American producers and filmmakers began in 1994 with the adoption of NAFTA. Canada refused to sign off on the deal unless a cultural exemption was included allowing it to subsidize its film and TV industry. The U.S. government’s negotiation team ultimately allowed Canada to lure American productions and jobs north with the promise of cost-cutting tax incentives. And the only thing Hollywood likes more than a good movie is a good tax incentive.

“People have been doing it for 20 years. Primarily it has to do with production companies getting a tax credit to film in a particular Canadian province. If you hire a certain number of Canadian workers, they give you a tax credit.” The credit can be as much as 60% of production costs, depending on the number of “points” a production accumulates.

In effect, if you’re a Canadian citizen or dual citizen, you can qualify for tax credits more easily if you’re producing a film in Canada. Topically, Ryan Reynolds was also a producer on Deadpool, which if you didn’t know already, was not only a runaway success in 2016, but currently is the highest grossing R-rated movie of all time. Not bad on a paltry sub 60 million dollar budget.

There’s another aspect to this as well if you’re an American who is seeking to become a Canadian citizen to work more in Canada. As per the Hollywood Reporter, thanks to said tax credits, the government covets your skills, and you could help producers save money. Becoming a Canadian citizen or taking advantage of your dual citizenship (if you haven’t already) could be a good idea.

The first step is to determine your eligibility according to Canada’s point system. There’s actually a calculator on the Canadian citizenship and immigration website that offers an at-a-glance estimate of your score based on the following criteria: age, education level, whether you have studied in Canada, English- and French-language proficiency, whether you have family already in Canada and your overall work experience.

One of the best ways to jump to the head of the line is to have a Canadian partner (that includes same-sex and common-law marriages). You’ll immediately qualify for up to 100 points, moving you closer to the 450-point threshold that gets you on the fast track. But even if you get past that threshold, it still won’t ensure citizenship. Ultimately, your chances will hinge on work experience, and this is where being in the entertainment industry helps.

Ultimately though – if you’re entitled to dual citizenship, it’s a good idea to get it – actor or not. Having a parent born in Canada helps. Did you know The Rock is a dual citizen? Anna Paquin and Matthew Perry too.

Children Applying for Canadian Citizenship Now Have Adult Sized Fee

August 31st, 2017

The Legal Barrier Was Removed and Replaced with A Financial One

Back in April, we touched on Senator Victor Oh’s amendment to Bill C6 that enabled minors to apply for Canadian citizenship separately from their parents. Now that it’s a reality, Ottawa is treating minors like adults when it comes to charging them for their citizenship applications, too. The fee was and continues to be $100 for minors who apply for citizenship together with their parents. If they’re not applying with their parents, those under age 18 must pay the same fee as adults — $530.

According to the Canada Border Services Agency, refugee claims filed for minors 17 years old or younger have increased steadily in recent years. The number of youth asylum seekers jumped from 2,011 in 2015 to 3,400 in 2016, representing a 50% increase. Prior to Senator Oh’s amendment, the only way that a Canadian resident under 18 can apply for citizenship on their own was on “compassionate” grounds.

When the Liberal government tabled the motion to move forward with the Senate-amended citizenship bill that was passed in June, Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen made mention this specific change for minors.

“The government . . . supports the amendment to make it easier for children to obtain citizenship without a Canadian parent and has made changes to clarify who can apply for citizenship on behalf of the child,” – Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen

Here’ the thing: Children applying for Canadian citizenship on their own are probably unaccompanied minors who come to Canada alone for asylum or are estranged from their family. The likelihood of them being able to afford a $530 processing fee is low. If the intent was to make it easier for minors to become citizens independently, then it fails.

Conservative Senator Victor Oh said his motion did not include fee specifics at the time because he was told setting processing fees did not require legislative changes and fell within the immigration minister’s discretion. He told the Toronto Star that he was told it was a regulatory amendment that was decided on by the Immigration Minister. He claimed he sent a letter to Minister Hussen in early July asking him to lower the fee to no more than $100, but he has yet to hear back.

Immigration officials said the $530 application fee was put in place to reflect the increasing cost of processing.

Canadian Citizenship Saved Pastor Hyeon Soo Lim in North Korea

August 27th, 2017

Regime Prosecutors Were Initially Seeking The Death Penalty

As per the CBC, Toronto Pastor Hyeon Soo Lim thinks his Canadian citizenship was the primary reason he wasn’t executed or tortured during more than two years of imprisonment in North Korea. Pastor Lim was born in South Korea and ran various humanitarian projects in the DPRK for nearly 20 years. He emigrated to Canada in 1986 and has visited North Korea, where he helped to establish an orphanage and a nursing home, more than 100 times since the late nineties. He was arrested in January 2015 on a humanitarian mission and sentenced at the end of 2015 to life imprisonment and hard labour for allegedly trying to overthrow the regime using religious activity, something North Korea can and often does consider an anti-state conspiracy. In July of 2015, Mr Lim appeared at a news conference in North Korea and confessed that he had travelled there on the pretext of humanitarian work and gathered information that he used in sermons outside the country to drive the regime to a collapse. The state news coverage of his apparent criminal transgression against was nothing short of ridiculous.

Religious practice and evangelical activities are banned in North Korea and even though he was warned by the Canadian government not to travel to the hermit kingdom, he didn’t think anything would happen. Lim said he has “never preached in North Korea,” but admitted his very presence in the hermit kingdom may have been enough to upset the Kim Jong-un regime. The pastor said he was never harmed during his 900-plus days he spent in North Korean custody. He said they treated him well despite being forced to dig holes and break coal by hand all day in a labour camp – something he attributes to his Canadian citizenship.

“If I’m just Korean, maybe they kill me,” Lim said during an interview with CBC’s Rosemary Barton. “I’m Canadian so they cannot, because they cannot kill the foreigners.”

Lim believes that a primary element that contributed to his release after more than 2 years in prison was the death of Ottawa Warmbier. On Aug. 9, North Korea released Lim on “sick bail” granted on humanitarian grounds (he suffers from high blood pressure and there were articulated health concerns from his congregation when he was detained), one day after a six-member Canadian delegation led by Daniel Jean, the prime minister’s national security and intelligence adviser, travelled to Pyongyang.