Number of Immigrants Becoming Canadian Citizens Estimated to Increase By 40% By 2024
While recent numbers from Statistics Canada reveal a shockingly low number of immigrants have been able to obtain citizenship over the past 20 years, change appears to be on its way as these numbers are expected to surge over the next four years.
According to the report, the citizenship rate among recent immigrants has dropped significantly from 75 per cent in 1996 to just 60 per cent in 2016.
For newcomers who have left their homes in search of a better life in Canada, obtaining citizenship is a significant event that marks the beginning of their new journey as a Canadian with the same rights as those born in Canada.
These rights include the ability to enter or leave Canada freely without restriction, the right to obtain a Canadian passport, and most importantly, vote in Canadian elections.
Why the Steep Decline?
So then why are 40% of immigrants choosing to forgo pursuing their Canadian citizenship? A few factors may be at play.
Back in 2014, the federal government increased the citizenship application fee from $100 to $300. By 2015, it was increased again to $530.
And while the fee for children was kept the same, an additional $100 “right of citizenship fee was also added.
This means that for an entire family, the cost of citizenship could total over $1,500, which may be one indication as to why immigrant families have been unable to apply for citizenship.
Another factor being cited for low citizenship rates is the difficult to understand language in the most recent version of the study guide used to help immigrants prepare for their citizenship test.
The guide was revised around 10 years ago, and according to CBC, critics have said it includes more sophisticated language that may be difficult for newcomers with limited English capabilities to understand.
Change on The Horizon
Despite the concerning trend over the last 20 years, change very well may be headed our way.
A strong indication of this is the fact that the current federal government led Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised to eliminate the costly citizenship application fee altogether during the most recent federal election.
The Liberals also promised $110 million in funding for processing citizenship applications between 2023 and 2024.
That’s an increase of $35 million compared to the funding for this coming federal government fiscal year. This 40 per cent increase in spending is expected to translate to a 40 per cent increase in new citizens by 2024.
Another indication that change is on the way is the fact the citizenship applications surged in 2017 when certain residency and language rules were loosened by the federal government.
Whether these new changes will actually impact citizenship rates is still unknown.
But if the increase reported in 2017 is any indication, it’s safe to say that many immigrants will find themselves one step closer towards becoming official Canadians with full rights and privileges that citizenship offers.