A Citizenship Conundrum
By James Metcalfe | February 16, 2013
a: a question or problem having only a conjectural answer
b: an intricate and difficult problem
The recent announcement that citizenship applications could take up to 4 years to be considered creates a conundrum for many people, including applicants, judges, and the government.
To qualify for Canadian citizenship, a person must reside in Canada for 1095 days out of four years preceding an application. For simplicity’s sake, we will define “residence” as being physically present in Canada. Meanwhile, it takes 730 days of physical presence in a five year period to maintain permanent residence (PR) status in Canada.
While there are some exceptions to these formulas, we’ll keep it straightforward.
An individual comes to Canada, acquires PR status, and stays the requisite 1095 days to file his application for citizenship. He returns to his former country of residence – say, Dubai – and resumes his life there.
During the course of the citizenship application process, a question arises regarding his time in Canada. He is requested to provide further substantiation about his time in Canada. The processing now becomes 4 years long, and he is outside Canada. If he decides to tough it out and remain in Dubai while his application is in process, he faces a serious issue: he could lose his PR status because he has not maintained the 730 days required to maintain PR status.
Inevitably, the applicant will be called to attend an interview in Canada regarding his citizenship. Hopefully, his PR card will still be valid, and he won’t have any problems getting on an airplane to Canada. The key word is hopefully, because he could be challenged and reported under the law for failing to meet the 730 day rule in the past four years. If his card expires before he is called to a citizenship interview, he may have to apply for a travel document in order to return to Canada. Again, more scrutinizing of his time in and out of Canada.
Where does all this conjecture lead us? To a conundrum. What takes precedence? Immigration, or citizenship? The courts will have to decide.