In an announcement made by Chris Alexander, Canada’s Immigration Minister, it was revealed that the country had acquired 260,000 new citizens in the year 2014. The number sets a new record in Canada’s history and is more than double of the citizenship figures of 2013.
A news release by the Canadian government states that the high numbers are a result of changes to Canada’s Citizenship Act through which the application process has been improved. The new process that was launched on August 1, 2014, reduced the number of steps in the application process from three to one. More than 115,000 people have acquired Canadian citizenship ever since the new application process was put in place.
The federal government also claims that the citizenship application backlog has been reduced by 17%, which is the lowest level in the past three years. The government now aims to reduce the processing time for Canadian citizenship application to less than one year by next fiscal year.
Citizenship applications received after January 1, 2015 will have a processing fees of $530, which is a significant increase from the previous fee of $300.
Government statistics show that Canada has seen the highest numbers of sustained immigration since 2006. More than 1,550,000 people have got Canadian citizenship since 2006.
“With a record number of new Canadians this year, it is clear that our government’s changes to the Citizenship Act are having a real impact on the number of new citizens welcomed to the Canadian family. With more than 260,000 new citizens embracing Canadian values and traditions in 2014, we are fulfilling our commitment to reducing backlogs and, improving processing times,” said Alexander.
However, immigration experts have forecast that the record number of citizenship will not last long as changes to the eligibility requirements will result in fewer applications. “Even though there’s now a great number that’s been granted citizenship in this year, as the new law comes in to force and takes effect, fewer people will be eligible,” says immigration lawyer Warren Creates.
Some of the new eligibility requirements include showing evidence of intent to live in Canada after acquiring citizenship, residing in the country for a longer period of time, and filing regular income taxes during the period of residence.
“It’s going to take them longer to clock the number of years of physical presence in Canada that the new law will require,” said Creates.
Concerns have been raised by the Canadian Bar Association over the new eligibility requirements. The association has even said that the proposed bill was possibly unconstitutional.