One of the most important ways to feel like a member of Canadian society is to get your Canadian citizenship. Citizenship isn’t just about voting or passports. It’s a way of feeling like you truly belong in your adopted country, and now the Canadian government is making it easier for young people under the age of 18 to apply.
Before June 2017, immigrants had to be at least 18 years of age before they could apply for citizenship on their own behalf. Now, minors can apply if they have a Canadian parent, make a submission with a parent who is a permanent resident, or simply make an application on their own.
The newest change to subsection 5(1) of the Citizenship Act was announced by the government on February 18, 2018. It lowers the processing fees for citizenship applications by minors from $530 to $100. Those who applied after June 19, 2017 will receive a refund of $430, ensuring that anyone under 18 who applied for citizenship after the change in the law will pay the same lower fee.
The new ability to apply, coupled with the lower fee, will make a big difference for immigrant children who living in the care of social services. These are children who are no longer under the guardianship of a parent who could make an application for citizenship on their behalf. Now, they are able to apply for citizenship on their own. Minors applying on their own behalf don’t have to meet the same language and knowledge requirements as adults but must have been physically in Canada for the last 3 out of 5 years. If they’re over the age of 14, they will be eventually asked to take the Oath of Citizenship at their ceremony.
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Almost 20% of new permanent residents in Canada are children when they arrive in the country. Unfortunately, social, economic and cultural issues result in hundreds being placed into care and temporary homes before they reach the age of 18. The Canadian government recognizes the importance of citizenship in fostering a sense of belonging and security for all new immigrants. This is why it has taken these steps to help its youngest future citizens to become permanent members of our society.
The department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada will be working with childcare agencies and immigration service providers to make sure these important changes are widely recognized. It is anticipated that many more young people will now acquire Canadian citizenship before adulthood and will no longer face an uncertain future when they reach the age of majority.