C-6: My brief to the Senate on the declining naturalization rate

For those interested, my full brief to the Senate’s Social Affairs, Science and Technology (SOCI) that will be reviewing Bill C-6 changes to the Citizenship Act can be found here: C-6 Senate Hearings: Expected Impact on the Naturalization Rate.

The summary is below:

  • Bill C-6 appropriately maintains and strengthens the existing integrity and business process measures introduced in the 2014 major rewrite of the Citizenship Act (C-24).
  • Beyond the specific changes proposed in Bill C-6, there is a broader issue of fewer immigrants applying for citizenship, primarily a result of the steep increase in the processing fee (from $100 to $530 in 2014-15).
  • Five non-legislative recommendations are proposed to ensure that all immigrants have a more equitable opportunity to become citizens. One legislative recommendation is proposed to ensure a clear and transparent process for future citizenship fee changes:
  • Non-Legistlative
  1. Reduce the current citizenship processing fee of $530 to $300, abolish the right of citizenship fee of $100, with consideration for a partial waiver for refugees and low income immigrants;
  2. Review the impact of the additional cost of language competency pre-assessment (about $200) and develop lower-cost alternatives;
  3. Ensure that any revisions to the citizenship study guide, Discover Canada, and related materials are written in plain language as close to the level required (CLB-4), and preferably focus-group tested;
  4. Consider dedicated citizenship preparation classes targeted towards those groups that appear to be having difficulty passing the test; and,
  5. Set a meaningful naturalization benchmark rate that 75 percent of immigrants will take up citizenship within a six- to eight-year period.
  • Legislative
  1. Repeal the exemption to the User Fees Act with respect to the setting of citizenship fees to ensure full public review and consultation for future changes.

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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