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Winter 2014

Strengthening Canadian Citizenship

On February 6, 2014, the government tabled the first comprehensive reforms to the Citizenship Act in more than a generation. Bill C-24, the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act, will protect the value of Canadian citizenship for those who have it while creating a faster and more efficient process for those applying to get it.

The government is committed to making the citizenship system more efficient by reducing backlogs and processing times. The government has already taken a range of measures in recent years to increase the value of citizenship. Despite these efforts, the fact remains that Canada's 36-year-old Citizenship Act needs amendments to address contemporary challenges.

Through these reforms, Citizenship and Immigration Canada is strengthening the rules around access to citizenship to ensure that they reflect its true value, and that new citizens are better prepared for full participation for life in Canada. The proposed amendments serve a series of needs and goals. Among them, they would:

  • Increase efficiency of the citizenship program to improve application processing and help qualified applicants acquire citizenship faster.
  • Reinforce the value of citizenship by strengthening the requirements and deterring citizenship of convenience. We are also proposing a number of ways to help prevent fraud and to protect the citizenship program from abuse.
  • Protect and promote Canada's interests and values by honouring those who serve Canada by revoking citizenship from dual citizens who were members of an armed force or organized armed group engaged in armed conflict with Canada or those convicted of terrorism, high treason, treason or spying offences, depending on the sentence received.
  • As a way of recognizing the important contributions to Canada of those who serve Canada, members of the Canadian Armed Forces would have quicker access to citizenship through a reduced qualifying period.

Overall, these changes would mean that new citizens are better prepared to assume the responsibilities of Canadian citizenship.

As Canadians, we understand how valuable citizenship is and the government is taking the necessary steps to ensure that it remains the envy of the world.

Canada announces measures in response to Typhoon Haiyan

On November 8, 2013, Typhoon Haiyan made landfall in the Philippines, setting off landslides, knocking out power in several provinces and cutting off communications in the country's central region. Haiyan then made landfall in Vietnam and Laos on November 10, 2013. As of November 27, it was estimated that over 14.6 million people had been affected by the typhoon, with 3.54 million people displaced and loss of life numbering 5,500.

In response to this tragedy, Canada's Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced in November 2013 that Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) was prioritizing the processing of applications from people who self-identify as being significantly and personally affected by Typhoon Haiyan.

CIC is contacting applicants in affected areas, as well as others who have self-identified as being affected. The Visa Application Centres in Manila and Cebu are open and fully functional. CIC's focus is on processing these applications as quickly as possible. Requests from Filipino citizens who are in Canada temporarily and who wish to extend their stay will be assessed in a compassionate and flexible manner.

The Embassy of Canada in Manila is expediting applications for Canadians without travel documents as a result of the typhoon. Affected Canadians can receive emergency travel documents to return to Canada, as appropriate.

In support of these measures, CIC set up special email addresses to respond to requests from applicants and their families. All efforts are being made to address urgent priority needs.

Please see the notice for more information.

Startup Visa adds Business Incubators

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Minister Alexander speaks to community and industry leaders at Startup Canada Day on the Hill – Ottawa, Ontario

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In Spring 2013, Citizenship and Immigration Canada launched the Startup Visa Program. This program is the first of its kind in the world, providing sought-after entrepreneurs with permanent residency and access to a wide range of business partners. Through this bold new program Canada hopes to become a destination of choice for start-up innovators, which will help us remain competitive in the global economy.

In October 2013, Minister Alexander announced that the program was being expanded to include a new stream for business incubators. The Business Incubator stream complements the existing venture capital and angel investor streams by attracting early-stage and high growth businesses, and entrepreneurs who can contribute to a culture of innovation and commercialization in Canada.

Business incubators provide promising entrepreneurs with valuable mentorship, and help them to attract investors and grow their start-ups into sustainable businesses that can create jobs in Canada.

“Government plays an important role in supporting and empowering entrepreneurs, who are the backbone of Canada's prosperity," said Alexander. "Our government will continue our efforts to attract the best and brightest immigrant entrepreneurs, who have the potential to build innovative companies that can create jobs for Canadians and compete on a global scale.”

Streamlining the Passport Services for Canadians Abroad

As of December 9, 2013, CIC's Passport Program is giving Canadians living and working outside Canada and who need a guarantor for their passport application more convenient options – they can now choose as a guarantor:

  • an adult with a valid or recently expired Canadian passport (less than a year); or
  • a member of an expanded list of occupations.

The list of acceptable guarantor occupations is now consistent for all Canadian passport applicants, wherever they may be outside Canada. A guarantor from the list does not need to be a Canadian citizen.

The new universal guarantor list is as follows:

  • medical doctor;
  • dean/head of university or college;
  • dentist;
  • judge;
  • lawyer/notary;
  • notary public;
  • pharmacist;
  • police officer;
  • signing officer of a bank or trust company or of a financial institution that offers a full range of banking services (cash withdrawals, deposits, savings); and
  • veterinarian.

Stakeholders and public input welcomed on the Electronic Travel Authorization

In another step toward improving border security, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) recently released a Notice of Intent for the Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) requirement. The notice give public and stakeholders the opportunities to learn more about and to provide input into this new initiative as part of the joint Canada-United States (U.S.) Beyond the Border Action Plan. The eTA program will be implemented in 2015. Under the eTA initiative, citizens from countries other than the United States who do not require a visa to enter Canada will need to obtain online authorization before flying to Canada.

As eTA will apply to close to three million international air travellers who visit Canada every year, CIC is working closely with stakeholders, including the air industry as well as the travel and tourism sectors, to inform international travellers of this new requirement. Toward this goal, the Notice of Intent will allow the public to give their initial input into and feedback on the eTA requirement.

While the eta concept is new to Canada the U.S. and Australia have successfully implemented similar programs, so visitors from countries who require a travel authorization for those two countries will already be familiar with the program.

CIC is making every effort to ensure that Canada's eTA does not greatly inconvenience travellers. The eTA application process will be quick, easy and low-cost. For a small fee, travellers will apply online and provide basic biographic information similar to what is currently collected when they arrive in Canada. In the vast majority of cases, the eTA will be granted within minutes of applying. As well, by having been pre-screened, eTA travellers could enjoy faster processing upon arrival in Canada.

So what benefits will eTA offer Canadians?

eTA will improve safety and security for all of us, while protecting the integrity of our immigration system. In particular, CIC will be able to systematically pre-screen travellers who would otherwise only be screened upon entry to Canada. As a result, we will be able to identify inadmissible foreign nationals, including those with criminal records, and prevent them from boarding a plane to travel to Canada. This, in turn, will also generate cost savings, as the Government will not have to carry out costly enforcement action, such as removing these individuals from the country.

Celebrating Black History Month

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Ministers Kenney and Alexander (then Parliamentary Secretary of National Defence) paid tribute to black Canadians in law enforcement at a Black History Month event last year in Ottawa – February 5, 2013

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As Canada and the world recognize the 100th and 75th anniversaries of the start of World Wars I and II, respectively, the Government of Canada will highlight the contributions of the many black soldiers who fought for Canada.

Throughout Black History Month this February, CIC will recognize the efforts of black Canadian soldiers during the two World Wars. In addition, two communities of historical relevance to black Canadians, Africville (Nova Scotia) and Hogan's Alley (British Columbia), will be commemorated. Canada Post will feature these communities on its 2014 Black History Month stamps.

Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney will celebrate this year's theme, Proud of our History, at an official reception to kick off Black History Month at the Canadian War Museum on February 6, 2014.

Black History Month, is a time to celebrate the many achievements and contributions of black Canadians who, throughout history, have done so much to make Canada the culturally diverse, compassionate and prosperous nation we know today. It is a chance for Canadians of all backgrounds to learn about, appreciate and celebrate the exceptional contributions to our society – both recently and historically – made by members of Canada's black communities.

Black History Month was first officially recognized in December 1995. For more information, visit our website at cic.gc.ca/blackhistorymonth.

2014 Paul Yuzyk Award for Multiculturalism – Call for Nominations

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Minister Kenney and Bashir Ahmed, winner of the 2013 Paul Yuzyk Award for Multiculturalism – Edmonton, Alberta

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Canadians are encouraged to honour their friends or colleagues who demonstrate commitment to strengthening pluralism and diversity in Canada by nominating them for the 2014 Paul Yuzyk Award for Multiculturalism.

The award is granted annually to an individual or group who demonstrates dedication to advancing multiculturalism and the integration of newcomers into Canadian society. Nominees can fall under one of two categories: Outstanding Achievement or Lifetime Achievement.

The award commemorates the legacy of the late senator Paul Yuzyk, who was a member of the Senate of Canada from 1963 to 1986 and played a key role in the development of Canadian multiculturalism policy. He has been called the father of multiculturalism for his early role in achieving policy recognition for the "third force" of Canadian society; that is, those who were of neither British nor French descent.

The award recipient receives a certificate of honour, signed by the Minister, as well as the privilege of selecting an eligible, registered, not-for-profit Canadian organization to receive a $20,000 grant from the Government of Canada. The 2013 Paul Yuzyk Award recipient for Outstanding Achievement, Bashir Ahmed of Edmonton, Alberta, selected the Somali Canadian Education and Rural Development Organization to receive the federal grant.

More information on the award is available at cic.gc.ca/paulyuzyk.

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