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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.

The Liberal Government Has Drafted The Overhaul To Discover Canada

July 30th, 2017

Many Of The Changes to the Official Citizenship Test Guide Pull Back Controversial Changes Introduced By The Harper Conservatives

Justin Trudeau’s Liberals majority government has unveiled a new draft of the Canadian citizenship guide. It is a significant overhaul of the book used by prospective Canadians to prepare for the test. The existing “Discover Canada” guide dates back to 2011 when the previous Conservative government conducted a significant overhaul of the previous guide A Look at Canada, authorized in the 1980s and in use for over 25 years. Those changes were considered controversial by some as they included an increased amount of detail about the War of 1812 and a warning that certain “barbaric cultural practices,” such as honour killings and female genital mutilation, are crimes in Canada. Liberal Immigration Minister John McCallum had cited those specific passages as items he wanted to see changed when he initially touched on the subject back in 2016.

“If you ask an average Canadian what Canada means, maybe they’ll say hockey, maybe they’ll say something else, they’re not likely to say the War of 1812. I’m not anti-military, but I do think it was a little heavy on the military.”

Minister McCallum suggest that there was an idealogical element to the last Conservative changes to the guide that occurred in 2008, but there’s been some opposition to that opinion – namely from C.P. Champion. He wrote a piece for the National Post where he questioned the intentions of Trudeau’s Liberals in revising it in the first place. He’s qualified for the critique. He was former Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s Citizenship policy Director and was heavily involved in the rewrite of the former guide. He suggests the Liberal initiative is politically oriented.

“It is no surprise that the Trudeau Liberals intend to replace the Conservatives’ citizenship test study guide this year for Canada’s 150th, or more likely sometime next year, or whenever it’s ready. The only surprise is that it’s taking them so long. After all, there’s very little about it that needs to change. Indeed, the whole idea of changing it, and the ideas they’re including in it, are borrowed from more original thinkers.”- C.P. Champion

The draft outlines responsibilities of citizenship that are both voluntary and mandatory. “Voluntary” responsibilities are listed as respecting the human rights of others, understanding official bilingualism and participating in the political process. Mandatory responsibilities include obeying the law, serving on a jury, paying taxes, filling out the census and respecting treaties with Indigenous Peoples.

The draft guide expands heavily on the experience and history of Canada’s Indigenous Peoples, including multiple references to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report on residential schools and a section on what happened at those schools. The current guide contains a single paragraph. It also touches on other darker chapters of Canadian history when the Chinese, South Asians, Jews and disabled Canadians suffered prejudice and discrimination.

It is important to emphasize that this is a “draft”. It hasn’t been changed yet. What do you think? Thoughts? Comments?

 

Canadian Federal Court Voids Citizenship Revocations

July 13th, 2017

The Ruling Emphasizes That Citizenship Is In Fact A Right and Not A Privilege

In February, 2014, Stephen Harper’s Conservative government amended the Citizenship Act to fast-track the revocation process in what it called “non-complex” cases. This is what is known as Bill -C24. Part of the fast track revocation allowed them to eliminate the right to a hearing for individuals when their citizenship had been obtained by fraud.

Back in May of this year, Justice Jocelyne Gagné ruled that the existing law violates Section 2(e) of the Canadian Bill of Rights, which says no law should deprive someone of the right to a fair hearing. Justice Gagné said the eight applicants who either had their citizenship revoked or were issued a notice of revocation must be given a fair oral hearing in front of an independent decision-maker and an opportunity to have any special circumstances considered before a decision is made.

“They deprive the applicants of the right to a fair hearing in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice,” – Justice Jocelyne Gagné

This month, Justice Russel Zinn voided the citizenship revocation of 312 individuals who had turned to the court after they were targeted in a sweep against people who had obtained their Canadian nationality through fraud. Another 14 similar court requests, which had not been filed in a timely manner, can apply for a deadline extension as well.

Trudeau’s Liberal government has since successfully amended the Act. By this time next year, the Federal Court would be the decision-maker in citizenship revocation cases.

American Athletes and Dual Citizens See The Benefit of Canadian Citizenship

June 30th, 2017

Professional sports brings and keeps many up north

Odell Willis and Adarius Bowman – two players for the CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos –  have both been in Canada for around 10 years. The met while playing for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and they’re now going through the process of becoming Canadian citizens together. Both originally hail from the Southern U.S. and cite the social environment and the culture as something they found appealing and appreciate the health care system, the education system, and the diversity of culture in Canada. Both represent what is a growing trend of athletes who come to Canada pursuing their athletic careers and end up opting to become Canadian citizens.

“I love it over here. You have friendly people and everyone is willing to help each other. No one’s running around killing and robbing people and I love all of the different cultures”. – Odell Willis.

Former Ottawa Redblack  and recent Grey Cup champion Henry Burris is no exception. Originally from Oklahoma, he was a CFL quarterback for 18 seasons for four teams, starting in 1997 (playing for the NFL’s Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers in between). His wire Nicole has lived in Canada full-time since 2005. Their sons, Armand and Barron, were born in Calgary and have dual citizenship.

Honestly, whenever we go back to the States, we feel like we’re visiting. It’s home, but it’s not home. Canada is our home. – Henry Burris

For those athletes who qualify for dual citizenship, the desire to come and compete for Canada is strong as well. Look at Piper Gilles. Her mother and grandmother are Canadian and she desired to compete as a Canadian. To get that passport, Gilles didn’t have to write the normally-mandatory citizenship test or jump through many of the other bureaucratic hoops. Instead her process was expedited by a special provision of the Citizenship Act allowing the minister to reward services of exceptional value to Canada. Same thing for Kaitlyn Weaver – the Houston born dual citizen and even for Chinese born table tennis ace, Eugene Zhen Wang. Competing as a Canadian can often offer a competitive advantage, especially if some athletes are seeking to qualify for the Olympics or worlds as quickly as possible. Swimmer Melissa “Missy” Franklin is an example of this. Both her parents are both from Canada – so Missy has dual citizenship. She can only represent one country competitively, though, and being so fast so young, she had to make the call early in life. Her mother suggested that it might be an easier path to the National Team through Canada -where the depth is not nearly what is seen at American Championship meets. Make a national team – the better your chances at competing at a very high level.

Bill C-6 Officially Becomes Law Of The Land

June 27th, 2017

Law that ends what many consider to be second class citizenship receives royal ascent

Bill C-6, an Act to amend the Citizenship Act, has received Royal Assent.

These changes to the existing act streamline the path to obtaining citizenship, enhance program integrity and repeal certain provisions of the law that in many ways effectively created two different classes of Canadian citizen – a primary example being revoking Canadian citizenship from dual citizens convicted of crimes against the national interest. These include things like terrorism, treason, or espionage. This is a big change from the original version of the law that was introduced by the previous Conservative government. Dual citizens living in Canada who are convicted of these crimes will face the Canadian justice system, like any other national, now. Other changes include applicants no longer being required to intend to continue to live in Canada once granted citizenship, providing more flexibility to those who need to live outside of Canada for work or personal reasons.

There are other changes coming down the pipe that will take effect this fall. These include added flexibility to both younger and older eligible immigrants to obtain citizenship, reducing the time permanent residents must be physically present in Canada to three out of five years – instead of four out of six years, before applying for citizenship, and amending the age range for people to meet the language and knowledge requirements for citizenship from 14-64 years to 18-54 years.

“It’s good that the bill is through. It delivered the Liberal government’s campaign commitment to facilitate citizenship –  that a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian. It has shifted the overall balance somewhat to facilitate citizenship.” -Andrew Griffith, former director general of the Immigration Department.

While citizenship officers maintain their powers to strip citizenship from new Canadians in cases of fraud and misrepresentation (we’ve touched on this in past posts), and individuals convicted of crimes will be barred from being granted citizenship, the Federal Court, instead of the immigration minister, will be the decision-maker in all revocation cases.

There are issues with citizenship that the government did not touch in these changes, namely the high cost of obtaining it. Many consider the cost of $630 for adults and $100 for minors — discouraging and  prohibitive for eligible applicants – especially refugees. As per the CBC, in the first nine months of 2016, there were 56,446 applications filed for citizenship, a decrease of nearly 50 per cent from the same period a year earlier, when 111,993 applications were submitted.