The year 2015 is going to be more expensive for anyone applying for Canadian citizenship. The government of Canada has increased the application fee for the second time in a year, increasing it from $300 to $530.
In addition to the revised fee of $530, an applicant also needs to pay an additional $100 as right-of-citizenship fee which is returned in case an application for citizenship is not accepted.
The new fees do not apply to those who made their citizenship applications before January 1, 2015.
The government has defended the increase, arguing that most of the cost associated with processing of citizenship applications should be borne by the applicants themselves. According to Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Department, the higher fees will help the government recover most of the application processing costs, which are estimated to be $555 per application. The increase is estimated to lead to a total saving of $41 million for the government.
The citizenship department does acknowledge that this fee hike may exert financial pressure on applicants. “While the analysis assumes that there will not be a reduction in overall demand for citizenship as a result of the fee increase, it is acknowledged that some may be required to delay their application as they will need more time to save for the new fee,” says the citizenship department. “Overall, in the long term, this will likely not have a significant impact on the uptake for citizenship.”
Last year’s increase of citizenship application fee from $100 to $300 was the first ever increase since 1995. The government was then criticized for bringing in the ad hoc fee increase without any sound justification. At that time the government believed that the fee increase didn’t have to cover the full cost of application processing as it would impose “too much hardship on applicants”.
The opposition has criticized the increase in citizenship fees, saying that it was unfair to do so especially when applicants have to wait for years before they receive citizenship. Statistics show that by 2013 end, there were at least 400,000 pending applications.
However the government has promised to significantly improve the processing time of citizenship applications and also to clear up the backlog as soon as possible, with the citizenship department committing to reduce citizenship application waiting times to less than 12 months within the next fiscal year.