Canada Gazette, Part I, Volume 152, Number 24: Regulations Amending the Citizenship Regulations
June 16, 2018
Department of Citizenship and Immigration
REGULATORY IMPACT ANALYSIS STATEMENT
(This statement is not part of the Regulations.)
Document seizure provisions
On June 19, 2017, Bill C-6, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act (AACA), received royal assent. Among other changes, the AACA provides a new authority for the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship to seize and detain documents provided for the purposes of the Citizenship Act if the Minister has reasonable grounds to believe that they were fraudulently or improperly obtained or used, or that the measure is necessary to prevent their fraudulent or improper use. The proposed amendments to the Citizenship Regulations (the Regulations) are required to support the coming into force of this new provision by providing clarity and consistency in establishing the processes to be followed in relation to the seizure and detention of suspected documents.
The AACA also repealed provisions in the Citizenship Act that allowed the Minister to revoke an individual’s citizenship if the individual had been convicted of an offence abroad that, if committed in Canada, would constitute a terrorism offence in Canada. The current Regulations list such a conviction as a factor that the Minister considers in deciding whether to hold a revocation hearing. This factor is now obsolete and is being removed through these amendments.
Technical amendments, including amendments identified by the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations
The proposed regulatory amendments would also include technical revisions that address recommendations by the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations (SJCSR) in its 2012 review of the Citizenship Regulations and other technical revisions.
The new authorities created by the AACA regarding the seizure and detention of documents respond to the findings of the 2016 report of the Auditor General of Canada, Detecting and Preventing Fraud in the Citizenship Program, which found inconsistent practices for dealing with suspicious documents in the Citizenship Program, and therefore recommended that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) clarify citizenship officers’ authority to seize problematic documents, provide officers with more detailed guidance and training, and ensure that officers implement this guidance. These new authorities are proposed to come into force at the same time as the proposed regulatory amendments.
Document seizure provisions
The first objective of the proposed Regulations is to support implementation and help operationalize the new legislative authority to seize documents by establishing
- the procedures that must be followed once a decision is made to seize a suspected fraudulent document under the new authority of the Citizenship Act (i.e. return, disposal); and
- the authority to share, where necessary, the seized document, to disclose to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) information with respect to the seized document and to allow the CBSA to keep the seized document for the period necessary to determine whether it appears to be genuine or to have been unlawfully altered.
The second objective of the proposed Regulations is to align the Citizenship Regulations with the changes to the Citizenship Act by repealing the provision stating that a conviction for a terrorism offence committed outside Canada is a factor in determining whether a revocation hearing should be held.
Technical amendments, including amendments identified by the SJCSR
The third objective of the proposed Regulations is to correct technical errors and inconsistencies identified by the SJCSR and make other technical revisions.
Document seizure provisions
The proposed regulatory amendments would establish the requirement for the Minister to notify the person from whom the document was seized of the seizure. The proposed amendments would also provide that a document seized will be returned to the person from whom it was seized if it is determined that the document was not fraudulently or improperly obtained or used, or that the seizure is not necessary to prevent its fraudulent or improper use.
The proposed amendments would also provide that documents that have been determined to be fraudulently or improperly obtained or used would not be returned to the persons from whom they were seized. Fraudulent documents would remain out of circulation and detained for as long as is necessary for the administration of the laws of Canada, after which they would be returned to the authority that issued them or would be disposed of in accordance with the laws of Canada.
Finally, the proposed regulatory amendments would provide that the Minister may, for the purpose of the administration and enforcement of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, disclose to the CBSA information with respect to the seized document, provide the document to the CBSA and allow it to keep the seized document for the period necessary to determine whether it appears to be genuine or to have been unlawfully altered. The process for sharing seized documents and information with the CBSA would be outlined in program delivery instructions.
Applicants whose documents are seized would be provided with written notice and an opportunity to provide additional information with respect to the documents in question. Subsequently, the established procedural fairness policy would still be applicable, and applicants would have an opportunity to respond to a procedural fairness letter advising them that they do not meet the requirements of the Citizenship Act and outlining the reasons why they do not meet the requirements. At this stage, applicants would have the opportunity to provide additional documents or written submissions to respond to the concerns about their application, including concerns about the documents in question.
The proposed amendments would repeal paragraph 7.2(c) of the Citizenship Regulations, which provides that one of the factors for consideration by the Minister in deciding whether to hold a hearing in respect of citizenship revocation is whether the ground for revocation is related to a conviction and sentence imposed outside of Canada for an offence that, if committed in Canada, would constitute a terrorism offence as defined in section 2 of the Criminal Code. The Minister would continue to take into account the factors set out under paragraphs 7.2(a) and (b), namely, the existence of evidence that raises a serious issue of the person’s credibility, and the person’s inability to provide written submissions, in determining whether a hearing is required in connection with a revocation decision.
Technical amendments, including amendments identified by the SJCSR
The proposed amendments would address technical errors and inconsistencies identified by the SJCSR as follows:
- Subsection 12(1) of the Citizenship Regulations, concerning the requirement for applicants to give evidence under oath to a citizenship judge, would be repealed as this provision is redundant: citizenship judges already have this authority under section 13 of the Canada Evidence Act.
- The definition of “foreign service officer” in section 2 of the Citizenship Regulations would be amended by changing the term “nearby country” to “another country” for clarity. This change would allow applicants to obtain services from another office, rather than requiring applicants to seek consular services at the closest possible office. In addition, the reference to “or a registration” has been removed from the definition, as it refers to the repealed section 8 of the Citizenship Act and is now obsolete.
The “One-for-One” Rule does not apply to these proposed regulatory amendments, as there are no changes in administrative costs to businesses.
Small business lens
The small business lens does not apply to these proposed regulatory amendments, as they impose no costs on small businesses.
During the legislative process, parliamentarians raised a number of issues pertaining to the AACA amendments. None were related to the new document seizure authorities. Some opposition members of Parliament commented that the Government should have the ability to revoke the citizenship of a person convicted of terrorism.
The document seizure provisions of the AACA, in combination with these proposed amendments, would enhance program integrity and respond to the recommendations in the 2016 report of the Auditor General of Canada. In particular, the provisions would help ensure that applicants do not acquire citizenship on the basis of fraudulent documents.
IRCC is working closely with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada to develop a privacy impact assessment about how and what client information will be shared between IRCC and the CBSA.
The repeal of the now-obsolete paragraph of the Citizenship Regulations related to a foreign terrorism conviction would be aligned with changes made to the revocation provisions in the Citizenship Act and would help to prevent confusion.
The repeal concerning the authority of citizenship judges to require evidence under oath would get rid of legislative duplication, as judges already have the ability to require an applicant to give evidence under oath, pursuant to section 13 of the Canada Evidence Act. The amendment regarding the definition of “foreign service officer” would enable clients to obtain services from another country rather than a nearby country; this would provide flexibility, enhance client service and address inconsistencies within the Citizenship Program.
The costs associated with the proposed Regulations are expected to be low and would be primarily related to implementation activities, including updating manuals and web pages, and providing staff with the necessary training.
IRCC is committed to ensuring that its programs and policies, including its Citizenship Program, are based on an understanding of the diversity that exists in Canadian society and that particular demographic groups are not adversely affected by these programs and policies.
A preliminary scan has indicated that no specific segment of the population would be adversely affected by the introduction of document seizure authorities or procedures. Similarly, no adverse impact is anticipated relating to the amendments pertaining to revocation, the amendments identified by the SJCSR or the technical amendments. IRCC will continue monitoring these regulatory provisions for emerging gender and intersectional impacts.
Implementation, enforcement and service standards
Implementation would require updates to program delivery instructions, manuals, and web pages, and updated training for staff.
Legislation and Program Policy
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
180 Kent Street
PROPOSED REGULATORY TEXT
Notice is given that the Governor in Council, pursuant to paragraphs 27(1)(f), (h), (i.2)footnotea, (j)footnoteb, (j.2)footnoteb and (k.1)footnoteb of the Citizenship Actfootnotec, proposes to make the annexed Regulations Amending the Citizenship Regulations.
Interested persons may make representations concerning the proposed Regulations within 30 days after the date of publication of this notice. All such representations must cite the Canada Gazette, Part I, and the date of publication of this notice, and be addressed to Teny Dikranian, Director, Legislation and Program Policy, Citizenship Branch, Department of Citizenship and Immigration, 180 Kent Street, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 1L1 (tel.: 613-437-5632, fax: 613-991-2485, email: IRCC.CITConsultations-ConsultationsCIT.IRCC@cic.gc.ca).
Ottawa, June 7, 2018
Assistant Clerk of the Privy Council
Regulations Amending the Citizenship Regulations
1 The definition foreign service officer in section 2 of the Citizenship Regulationsfootnote1 is replaced by the following:
foreign service officer means a Canadian diplomatic or consular officer who is accredited to carry out or is carrying out official duties in the country in which a person making an application or giving a notice pursuant to the Act resides or, if there is no such officer in that country, such an officer who is accredited to carry out or is carrying out official duties in another country; (agent du service extérieur)
2 Paragraph 7.2(c) of the Regulations is repealed.
3 (1) Subsection 12(1) of the Regulations is repealed.
(2) The portion of subsection 12(2) of the Regulations before paragraph (a) is replaced by the following:
(2) When an applicant appears before a citizenship judge, the judge may permit the applicant to be accompanied by
4 The Regulations are amended by adding the following after section 26.7:
Seizure of Documents
27 If the Minister seizes a document under section 23.2 of the Act, the Minister must provide to the person who provided the document written notice of the seizure that includes the grounds for the seizure and that states that the person may provide additional information with respect to the document.
28 The Minister may, for the purpose of the administration and enforcement of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, disclose to the Canada Border Services Agency, information with respect to the seized document and may provide the seized document to the Agency. The Agency may keep the seized document for the period necessary to determine whether it appears to be genuine or to have been unlawfully altered.
29 If the Minister determines that the seized document was not fraudulently or improperly obtained or used, or that its seizure is not necessary to prevent its fraudulent or improper use, the Minister must return the document to the person who provided it.
30 If the Minister determines that the seized document was obtained or used fraudulently or improperly or that the seizure is necessary to prevent its fraudulent or improper use, the document must be detained for as long as is necessary for the administration of the laws of Canada, after which it will be returned to the authority that issued it or disposed of in accordance with the laws of Canada.
Coming into Force
5 (1) These Regulations, except section 4, come into force on the day on which they are registered.
(2) Section 4 comes into force on the day on which section 11 of An Act to amend the Citizenship Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act, chapter 14 of the Statutes of Canada, 2017, comes into force, but if these Regulations are registered after that day, section 4 comes into force on the day on which they are registered.