IRCC Introduces New Photo Specifications for Citizenship Applications

IRCC Introduces New Photo Specifications for Citizenship ApplicationsThe IRCC has announced new photo requirements for citizenship applicants using forms CIT0001 and CIT0002. Whether you are a Canadian citizen applying for a citizenship card or certificate or an applicant seeking Canadian citizenship for the first time, you may be affected by these changes.

According to the IRCC, the requested photo changes are now 50x70mm. Before this change, they were 35x45mm. Other requirements for photos will remain the same. Your photos will still need to be taken within the past six months, for example. However, even if you took the photos recently, ensure that they meet the current guidelines and are 50x70mm. Before getting photos for your application completed, ensure your photographer is aware of current photo requirements.

Current Requirements

Your photos must:

  • Place your face in the middle of the photograph, with the top of your shoulders and the full front view of your head visible, with you gazing at the camera straight on with a neutral expression.
  • Have your face sized correctly, so the point from your chin to the top of the head or skull is no larger than 36 mm (1 7/16″) and no smaller than 31 mm (1 1/4″).
  • Include two photos which are identical and taken at the same time.
  • Be printed on good quality photographic paper and must have your name printed on the back, along with the name of the studio or photographer who took the photo, the date the photographs were taken and the address of the studio or photographer.
  • Not be altered and must be taken against a light or pale background.
  • Must be good quality and clear.
  • Clearly show your face, which must be unencumbered by hairpieces, sunglasses or other items which could obscure your appearance. Prescription glasses and religious head coverings are permitted as long as full facial features and eyes remain fully visible.  

It is important to ensure your photos meet all current requirements before you send in your application. Review the instructions that came with the application to ensure your photos are acceptable. If there is a mistake or your photos fail to meet current guidelines, your application cannot be processed until you submit the correct photos. The process of contacting you about the errors and having you send in additional pictures can delay your application.

Canadian Citizenship Requirements (2017)

If you are not already eligible for Canadian citizenship because you were born in Canada or born to Canadian parents, you can apply to become a citizen. In order to do this, you must apply and you must meet these prerequisites:

  • You must have Permanent Resident status. Your status must not be compromised by unfulfilled conditions, removal orders, or a review for accusations of fraud.
  • You must have lived in Canada as a permanent resident for at least 1,460 days over the six years before you place your signature on your citizenship application. You may not need to meet residency requirements if you are a crown servant or the family of one. You may also not need to meet minimum requirements for residency if you are applying for the fast track process to citizenship as a former or current member of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). Children who have a parent applying for them also currently do not need to meet residency requirements.
  • You must be able to show a basic understanding of French or English.
  • You must be able to pass a citizenship test and interview, which establishes your ability to have a basic conversation in English or French about Canada, including the responsibilities of citizenship, Canadian history and other topics pertaining to Canada. The topics you will need to know about are covered in the Discover Canada study guide.
  • You must have paid taxes. If the Income Tax Act requires you to pay taxes, you must have filed for four years in the six years before your application.
  • You must be in good standing. If you are currently serving jail time, probation, or are in trial for a serious crime, your application may be affected.
  • You must meet application requirements. You must apply for citizenship, using the correct forms. You must fill out the forms fully and honestly and send them in, as required, with the appropriate application fee. You can find the right forms as well as a clear, step-by-step guide to filling out the right forms at Immigration Direct.

Requirements for Seniors

Applicants for Canadian citizenship who are at least 55 years old will not need to show a good grasp of English or French and will not need to show they understand the history and culture of Canada. Senior applicants will still need to meet for a citizenship interview and meet other citizenship requirements.

Requirements for Children

Children who are applying to become Canadian will generally do so with their parents. To do this, the form Application for Canadian Citizenship — Minors [CIT 0003] must be used. The correctly completed form, with all required documentation and application fee, must be submitted. The child needs to meet residency requirements, just like any applicant, and must have one or two parents who will either become Canadians at the same time or who are already citizens. Children over the age of fourteen will also need to show a basic understanding of the privileges and duties of citizenship and demonstrate a basic understanding of English or French.

How to Become a Canadian Citizen

Becoming a Canadian comes with many privileges and rights, allowing you to live, work, and enjoy all the benefits of one of the biggest countries in the world. The path of citizenship starts with ensuring you qualify and choosing a route to naturalization. If you have a criminal record from the past four years, for example, you may find your path to citizenship compromised.

Several Ways to Become a Canadian

You may already qualify for citizenship because your parents were Canadian or because you were born in Canada. If you do not qualify this way, you can apply on the basis of being a skilled worker, which allows you to enter through the Express Entry system.

You can also apply after obtaining permanent residency and remaining in the country for at least six years. You may need a shorter period of permanent residency in some circumstances. In some cases, you can apply for citizenship based on family status or because of your status as an entrepreneur.

Click here to check if you qualify to apply for Citizenship

Applying for Citizenship

If you have obtained permanent residency status and have met other requirements, you can apply through the following steps:

  • Prepare for life in Canada. Learn about Canadian customs, history, and culture and become proficient in at least one of the two official languages (English or French).
  • Secure an application package.  You will need to obtain an application online or through a government office. Make sure you get the right application, as there are different forms of adults, children, and members of the Armed Forces.
  • Complete and submit your application package. You will need to submit forms and information and will have to pay your fee online before mailing your package.
  • Wait for a reply. You will be told when your application has been received and you will be able to check on the status of your application.
  • Go to your citizenship interview and test. You will have to pass an oral or written test to prove your knowledge of Canada if you are an applicant between 14 and 64 years of age. The test may be in either French or English and will be based on the official study guide, Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship. When you arrive for your test, you will need to bring any travel documents you used before you applied as well as the original documents used in your application.
  • Go to the citizenship ceremony. During your application process, you will need to successfully complete each stage and remain eligible for citizenship. Once you have done this and successfully passed the test, you will be invited to a citizenship ceremony, where you will be sworn in as a Canadian.

The process of citizenship can be complex, and if you need help, Immigration Direct has resources you can use to find some answers.

Ending Second-Class Citizenship in Canada

Canadian citizenship is considered a valued privilege and there are two ways to become a citizen of the country: through birth and naturalization. Both are intended to confer the same privileges and rights, so that someone who comes to this country and becomes a citizen and someone who is born in Canada both can vote, work, live, and travel as Canadians.

Recent changes to immigration law which will go into effect this year reaffirm that no matter how someone gets their Canadian citizenship they have the same rights. Bill C-6 overturns an earlier law that some claimed created “two classes” of Canadians.

Bill C-24

In 2014, Bill C-24, the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act, became law. One provision of the bill allowed dual citizen holders and those who had immigrated to Canada to have their citizenship taken away for serious crimes such as terrorism, espionage, or treason.

According to critics of the law, this created a “second class” of citizenship. While Canadians born in Canada and in possession of one citizenship could not have their citizenship taken away from them, no matter what crimes they committed, others could find their citizenship revoked. While the process for taking away citizenship was a complex one and designed for only exemplary cases, it concerned many critics.

Some Canadians had their rights revoked under the bill. In fall 2016, for example, Zakaria Amara had his citizenship taken away. He was a member of the group of 18 people who planned to bomb parts of Toronto.

New Legislation

In May 2017, a new citizenship bill, Bill C-6, was approved by the Senate and which will effectively remove the provisions about revoking citizenship. Among other things, the new immigration law will allow Canadians to retain their citizenship, even if they are convicted of a serious crime. Those who had their citizenship revoked under Bill C-24 will have it automatically reinstated. As before, citizenship can still be taken away from those who obtained their status in through fraud or falsification.

Now, Canadians who bear the title of citizenship will be able to keep it, no matter how their journey to citizenship started.

Canadian Citizenship Applications for Kids Include High Costs

Canadian Citizenship Applications for Kids Include High CostsMany would-be Canadians who apply for citizenship are adults or adults with children. However, a new law which will go into effect in fall of this year will permit children to apply for citizenship on their own. Children who are orphaned, estranged from their parents, have parents who do not qualify for citizenship or who are in otherwise challenging situations will be able to apply to become citizens. The new law also reduces language and knowledge requirements, so children under the age of 18 will not have to meet these prerequisites to get citizenship.

One concern for some Senators and critics, however, is the fact that children applying alone will still face the same high application fees as adults. When children apply for citizenship with their parents, their application fee is $100. When applying alone, their fee will be $530.

The fee for citizenship has long been debated, with some critics noting the large price tag can place a burden on those who want to start a new life in Canada. Some critics believe that the $530 fee and the $100 for child applicants means families struggle to pay for fees when they could be investing the money to start their new lives. Some feel the fees especially are disadvantageous for families, who are required to pay extra for children.

It’s no surprise, then, that the $530 application fee for children applying alone has come under scrutiny. Conservative Senator Victor Oh opposes the fee, saying it makes already vulnerable applicants face a more precarious situation. Without the help of adults, children may not be able to afford the higher application cost. Oh is the Senator who submitted the amendment to allow children to apply for citizenship without an adult.

Oh has also written a letter to Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen, asking the fee to be lowered to $100 for children applying without an adult. The Immigration Minister is the authority with the discretion to make such a change.

How to Renew Your Canadian Permanent Resident (PR) Card

How to Renew Your Canadian Permanent Resident (PR) CardOnce you receive a new PR card, it will remain valid for five years, although in some situations it may be valid for one year. Check the expiry date on your card to see how long you have to renew your card.

You can renew your card within six months of your expiry date. If you will be traveling within a year, it is best to apply as soon as you can so your card will arrive in time. You can check the government of Canada’s processing times online to see how long the process may take. You can also apply for urgent processing if you will be traveling sooner.

The Renewal Process

To apply to renew your PR card, you will need to:

  • Get and complete your application package. You will need to include a photocopy of your card. Keep your PR card in a safe spot until your new one arrives. You will also need to provide clear copies of your passports or travel documents, two photos that meet the application requirements, the processing fee, a receipt copy for the fee, and any other documents required by the application checklist. To complete the forms, you will need to pay the fee online.
  • Send in the application package by mail or courier.
  • Wait to receive your card. In some cases, you may be asked to pick up your card in person. You may need to bring some of your documentation and paperwork to do so. Once you have received your new PR card, destroy your old, expired card.

My PR Card is Expired—Can it be Renewed?

The good news is that your immigration status as a permanent resident does not automatically expire just because your card has. You can still apply to renew your card and you should do so as soon as possible. Your permanent resident card is the easiest way to prove your status and your right to health care, residency, employment, and all the other benefits of being a permanent resident of Canada.

Whether your card is expired or not, applying correctly is important. Keep in mind that processing times start when a complete and correct application is submitted. Errors on your application can delay the process and can make it harder to prove your immigration status. Our resource for PR card renewal can help guide you through the process. If you have questions, be sure to check out our FAQs for more information.

Canada Faces Border Questions

Canada Faces Border QuestionsThis past July and August, unprecedented numbers of asylum seekers have been crossing from the United States into Canada, without attempting to go through typical asylum channels. The numbers are high enough that Montreal’s Olympic Stadium has been opened to offer temporary housing to those entering the country in this way.

Many asylum seekers who cross into Canada from the United States are detained and then begin the asylum process. In large part, the asylum seekers appear to be from Haiti and are moving north amid fears that US President Donald Trump will end the protections offered to Haiti nationals and will compel them to move back to Haiti. Canada’s asylum process is different than that of the United States, however, and protected status for Haitian nationals has already ended in Canada. It is not clear at this time how many of those seeking to stay in Canada will be allowed to do so.  

In the meantime, there is concern about the pressures the added applicants will place on the system. It is unknown where many will be settled and how long asylum applications will be delayed, if at all, due to the influx.

Part of the move towards the north seems to stem from incorrect rumors alleging that Canada welcomes temporary protected status (TPS) holders automatically. In fact, asylum seekers are first screened and if approved must attend an Immigration and Refugee Board hearing date.  If accessing Canada at a port of entry, they must also submit additional application documents within 15 days. Further complicating the issue is the fact that the 2004 Safe Third Country agreement may make asylum seekers ineligible if they enter Canada from the United States.

Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, has publicly stated that the system is working but has stated that the practice of crossing the border illegally is unsafe and has asked asylum seekers to apply for asylum in Canada through official channels from the country where they are located. There has so far been no report of any additional enforcement action planned to try to reduce the flow of people into Canada. The Canada Border Services Agency has stated they are placing additional staff on the border to deal with the added demand.

So far, the number of asylum seekers is the highest in nine years, with about 6,500 seeking the status in the province of Quebec alone between January and June 2017.