Applications for citizenship of Canada rose after the federal government eased the regulations pertaining to language proficiency and residency requirements on11 October.
Figures provided by IRCC (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship) show that while they were receiving 3,653 applications a week on an average six months ahead of the changes being made, it rose to 17,500 applications in the immediate week after the new rule became effective. Its subsequent week saw 12,350 applications being submitted. Data was, however, not available for weeks after that.
Nancy Caron, the IRCC spokeswoman, was quoted by CBC News as saying that cutting down the requirement for physical presence affords more flexibility to applicants to satisfy the citizenship requirements and influences more immigrants to take the citizenship path. She said that this would encourage individuals who have already commenced establishing their lives in Canada obtain citizenship faster. According to her, an average of 200,000 citizenship applications has been submitted every year in recent years.
Oscillations in rates of applications are expected after changes to rules, which is why the department allocated resources to manage ‘surge capacity’ and reduced processing times below the one-year service standard, said Caron.
Andrew Griffith, an author and a fellow of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, said it was premature to state if the spike in numbers represented a deviation or part of a trend of a longer term. He believes, however, that a rising rate of citizenship encourages social bonding and relaxes community tensions as immigrants bond deeply with Canada and its society.
Griffith said they wanted immigrants to become its citizens as they believed that was the part of the journey of assimilation. He said that it would help them feel part of this North American country and eventually should better all the political, economic and social results of the country.
As per the new rule, the required duration of physical stay in Canada has been cut down from four out of six years to three out of five years; the duration of time spent in Canada ahead of permanent resident status will be factored in requirements of residency; giving credit to students to temporary workers; and the age range for
knowledge and language requirements was reduced to 14 to 64 from the earlier requirement of 18 to 54 years old.
Griffith said that high fees, however, would prove to be an obstacle for some wanting to apply for citizenship, particularly those in the categories of refugee or family reunification with tight budgets.
The processing fee rose to CAD630 in 2014-2015, which includes a CAD100 toward ‘right of citizenship’ fee. That is still far below the fees collected in the US, the UK and the Netherlands, but is more when compared to Australia, France, Germany and New Zealand.
According to Griffith, lessening costs would demonstrate that encouraging citizenship offers not only personal benefit, but would profit the Canadian society at large when people participate proactively, even in the political process.
Ahmed Hussen, Immigration Minister, who signed the changes that took effect in October, said they pave way for people to join the ‘Canadian family’ in a more flexible and a convenient way.
He also said that as Canada was committed to the settling and assimilation of newcomers successfully in order for them to restart their lives and contribute to the Canadian society, they need to ensure the route to permanent residents’ citizenship.
People can be considered ineligible for citizenship of Canada if they have a criminal record or had been charged in or outside Canada, or if they have been refused citizenship or it has been repealed in the past.
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