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Appeal Court set to hear battle over citizenship oath to the Queen

TORONTO - Three permanent residents opposed to taking an oath to the Queen as a condition of Canadian citizenship are taking their battle to Ontario's top court today. They argue the requirement is discriminatory and violates their constitutional rights and should be struck down. The three oppose the oath on religious or conscientious grounds, saying it should be optional or that pledging allegiance to Canada should be enough. A lower court judge, however, disagreed, saying any charter violation can be justified in a democratic society.

German cabinet gives go-ahead to dual citizenship

BERLIN (Reuters) - The German government on Tuesday signed off on a draft law that will allow young Germans of foreign origin to have dual citizenship, a move that relaxes some of Europe's strictest nationality laws and will benefit the large Turkish community. Current rules oblige children of immigrants from most non-EU countries to choose at the age of 23 between German citizenship or that of their parents' country of origin.

Appeal Court set to hear battle over citizenship oath to the Queen

TORONTO - Ontario's top court is set to grapple with whether forcing would-be Canadians to take an oath to the Queen, her heirs and successors is constitutional. Three long-time permanent residents argue the citizenship requirement is discriminatory and violates their rights to free speech, a position the government rejects. In fact, documents filed with the Ontario Court of Appeal, which is scheduled to hear the case on Tuesday, show Ottawa intends to fight any adverse decision.

Germany agrees to expand right to dual citizenship

The German government reached an agreement Thursday on liberalising citizenship laws so that people born in Germany to foreign parents can hold two passports, the justice minister said. The minister, Heiko Maas, said in a statement that he and Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere had struck a deal on a draft law which would create a path to dual citizenship for thousands more people. Maas called the plan "a very significant step toward a modern citizenship policy".

Citizenship minister challenges critics of proposed changes to Citizenship Act

HALIFAX - Citizenship Minister Chris Alexander is challenging critics who suggest the federal government is making it more difficult for immigrants to become naturalized citizens. Chris Alexander says there's been an overwhelmingly positive response to amendments he has proposed to the Citizenship Act, tabled earlier this month. He says every time Canada has tightened citizenship rules in the past, the number of applications for citizenship has gone up.

Changing citizenship rule could hurt Canada's efforts to woo foreign students: observers

TORONTO - As more countries compete for the world's top talent, some worry that planned changes to the Citizenship Act could hamper Canada's efforts to woo international students, a group that contributes billions of dollars to the Canadian economy. The changes, which are expected to become law later this year, do away with a provision that eased the path to citizenship for those who live in the country before becoming permanent residents — a rule that benefited foreign students.

Federal minister heralds new rules, stripping citizenship from terrorists

CALGARY - Federal Citizenship Minister Chris Alexander used a ceremony in Calgary to tout his government's plans to tighten rules for those who want to become Canadians and to strip citizenship from dual nationals who engage in terrorism. Alexander told 51 new Canadians the first overhaul of the Citizenship Act in 36 years is meant to strengthen the value of a Canadian passport and to improve the efficiency of how citizenship is acquired. He said the new rules will clamp down on what he called Canadians of convenience by making it harder to obtain citizenship.

EU says to assess ties after Swiss back migrant curbs

The European Commission said it would assess EU ties with Switzerland after the Alpine country voted Sunday to limit immigration from the European Union, its biggest trading partner by far. "The EU will examine the implications of this initiative on EU-Swiss relations as a whole," said a statement after Swiss results showed a narrow victory for a proposal pushed by right-wing populists. The European Commission said it "regrets" the Swiss vote, which "goes against the principle of free movement of persons between the EU and Switzerland."

Govt to create longer wait to become Canadian, strip citizenship from terrorists

TORONTO - The Conservative government has proposed sweeping changes to the Citizenship Act that include beefing up eligibility requirements for immigrants who want to become Canadians and stripping citizenship from terrorists and those who take up arms against Canada. The changes are aimed at strengthening the value of Canadian citizenship and improving the efficiency of the process required to attain it, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander told a news conference on Thursday.

Key changes proposed for Canada's Citizenship Act

TORONTO - The Conservative government has proposed a significant revamp of Canada's Citizenship Act. Here are some of the key changes that were announced Thursday. — Residency: Permanent residents would have to maintain a "physical presence" in Canada for four years within six years before applying for citizenship. That would include spending a minimum of 183 days in the country per year in four out of six years. Currently, immigrants need to reside in Canada for three out of four years.
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