Liberal and Conservative Senators are combining forces to propose a change to Canada’s Citizenship Act, making it easier for children to become Canadian.
Changes to Bill C-6 would allow minors to apply for citizenship without their parents.
Vancouver-based immigration lawyer Richard Kurland agrees that the current system, which treats children and parents as a package deal, is unfair to minors.
“If the parent has a problem with their citizenship [application] like they aren’t here, they lack physical presence requirements, don’t have language, can’t meet the knowledge test or have a criminal issue, the child doesn’t get citizenship.”
The current system prevents those children from becoming citizens until they are adults.
While waiting, if they have any contact with the criminal justice system, they’re often prevented from becoming citizens.
Kurland says the issue is particularly pressing for people who find themselves with a criminal record because of mental health or other issues.
“How can you not be considered a citizen when you’ve been living here for 50 years, arriving at age one?”
Beyond that, he believes that the changes would save money in the long-run.
“The cascade of savings include all of that immigration tribunal work, federal court work, social services, resources that do not need to be deployed any longer because you’re dealing with citizens.”
The case of a 59-year-old Vancouver Island man with bipolar disorder received national attention last month when he was deported to the Netherlands despite living in Canada since he was 8-months-old.
The amendment before the Senate is a bipartisan effort, being put forward by Ontario Conservative Senator Victor Oh, and B.C. Liberal Senator Mobina Jaffer.