It is easier to become a Canadian citizen

But is this new immigration law better than the old one? For the honest and legitimate, new immigrant, it is good. For those dishonest and ready to exploit Canadian generosity, it is better, much better.

by Angelo Persichilli

THE HILL TIMES (Oct. 9, 2017)

Beginning this week, it’s going to be easier for immigrants with permanent resident status to become Canadian citizens. The new law requires the applicant to have a three-year physical presence in Canada during the last five years, instead of four in the last six.

Immigration is complex and covers economic, security and, most importantly, human issues. Every country has problems with its immigration systems, and while new immigration laws can fix certain problems, it risks creating new ones. This new law does not escape this reality.

The purpose of any immigration law is two-fold. First, it serves to help newcomers to settle in Canada and to become Canadian citizens (I am one of them). Second, it’s supposed to ensure that only those fulfilling certain requirements are allowed in.

Basically, the immigration laws must guarantee to let in all the people who comply with the laws, and to keep those who don’t out. The second is as important as the first; otherwise, we’d let everyone in.

What does the new legislation do to improve these two points?

There is no doubt that it is now easier to become a Canadian citizen even if the benefits for a genuine new potential Canadian are not crucial. In fact, instead of waiting at least four years to obtain the citizenship, now it can be attained in three years. This is important and fair, but it is not a make it r break it change.

Conversely, it is going to be a huge benefit for those who want to acquire a Canadian citizenship and go back to their home country. This is a huge economic and social problem for Canada.

Numbers on this are hard to collect, especially because governments are not eager to divulge them.

Nonetheless, it’s estimated there are more than one million Canadians who live permanently in California, including many of whom come to Canada once a year for a medical check-up, and more than two million in other continents. Back in 2003, there were 250,000 Canadians in Hong Kong (now they are close to half a million) and almost 200,000 in the Middle East. Most don’t consider Canada their home, but do think of it as an insurance policy and a place to rush to when in need of a secure shelter.

A few summers ago, Ottawa spent $114-million to repatriate 14,000 “Canadians” who were permanently living in Lebanon but wanted to escape war, but many returned home.

Considering this background, while this new law helps many legitimate immigrants to become Canadian citizens sooner, it doesn’t address the exploitation of our system from people who take advantage of our generosity and damage the opportunities for real immigrants who are in search of a new country to live and to prosper with their families.

But immigration laws will never be totally sufficient to fix these problems alone if the application becomes convoluted and confusing. New laws can create more loopholes that are exploited by rich, potential immigrants who can hire pricey lawyers.

There are also unscrupulous applicants who are willing to abuse the system.

So, is this legislation better than the old one? For the honest and legitimate new immigrant, it is good. For those dishonest and ready to exploit Canadian generosity, it is better, much better.

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