Last Updated on December 29, 2017
December 29, 2017 – Average weekly applications for Canadian citizenship jumped by a staggering 480% in the week after several important changes to the Canadian Citizenship Act under Bill C-6 came into effect on October 11, 2017.
Bill C-6 Amendments introduced changes in three stages, with the first set of changes in the law taking place in June 2017. The second set of changes, which introduce substantial relaxation in existing rules, came into force on October 11. The third set of changes, covering revocation cases and seizure of fraudulent documents, is expected to come into force in the first few months of 2018.
The impact of October 11 changes is evident from the fact that two subsequent weeks saw IRCC receive 17,500 and 12,530 applications respectively, as opposed to weekly average of 3650 applications for the six-month period prior to October 11,.
Anticipating the surge, IRCC deployed additional resources to ensure average processing time, currently below 12 months, does not become longer for permanent residents eagerly seeking Canadian citizenship.
The jump in applications has come about primarily due to two changes to the physical residency requirement:
- The minimum requirement—four out of six years prior to the application—was reduced to three out of five years, and
- Portion of stay in Canada before acquiring permanent residence—as a student or a work permit holder—could now be counted for fulfilling the physical presence requirement for citizenship.
Further, applicability of language and knowledge requirements was lowered from 14-64 years to 18-54 years.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship spokeswoman Nancy Caron opined the new lenient rules were aimed to enabling those immigrants who have begun building their lives the country to qualify for Canadian citizenship faster.
When the Canadian Citizenship Act was revamped in 2014-15, our view was that the tougher and costlier citizenship process would cause a substantial reduction in citizenship applications. While uncertain whether the new rules will cause significant change in the long-term trend, the liberalized rules facilitating easier citizenship will improve social cohesion, boost community bonding, and contribute to a better economic, social, and political environment.
Despite easier rules, many immigrants, especially those seeking citizenship through family reunification or asylum, may find the high processing fees as a significant obstacle to applying for citizenship.
Last increased to $630 in 2014-15, citizenship processing fee in Canada is significantly lower than the fee charged by other nations like the USA and the UK. Yet, there are other developed countries like New Zealand, France, Germany, and Australia that charge less than Canada.
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