80 per cent increase in Australian citizenship applications approved

Catching up on their backlog:

The number of migrants becoming Australian citizens is continuing to rise.

In 2018-19, there was an 80 per cent increase in citizenship applications approved compared to the previous financial year.

More than 145,000 migrants had their citizenship by conferral applications approved, up from 81,000 in 2017-18.

Meanwhile the Government has also halved the waiting time between an applicant attending a citizenship interview and the finalisation of their application.

According to Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs David Coleman the increase has been attributed to encouraging online lodgements and increasing the efficiency of citizenship processing.

“We have invested $9 million into our systems and staff, established a task force to focus on complex cases, and increased the number of citizenship appointments available for
applicants to attend interviews and sit the citizenship test,” said Mr Coleman.

“This investment is having a significant impact and I am confident we will see further improvements over the next 12 months.”

Source: 80 per cent increase in Australian citizenship applications approved

Australia: Road to citizenship gets longer for ‘demonised’ applicants

Australia generally has had a better track record than Canada in processing times with short processing times and limited backlogs:

An 18-month investigation by the Commonwealth Ombudsman, released in December, found the number of people subject to heightened identity checks and waiting more than two years on the outcome of a “citizenship by conferral” application – such as former refugees – had skyrocketed 450 per cent.

This increase – a jump from 338 cases requiring enhanced screening in November 2016 to almost 2000 by the middle of last year – was despite an overall drop in the number of complex applications awaiting a decision, the ombudsman found.

As of early January, there were 167,820 outstanding conferral applications, 5680 of which were more than two years old.

The ombudsman’s investigation focused on those subject to “enhanced screening and integrity checks” due to background factors such as country of origin, an “irregular” arrival or due to any changes made to personal information.

The oldest of these case had been “on hand” for more than four years, according to the report. This compared to the department’s “service standard” for processing most cases of just 80 days.

“In early 2016, the Commonwealth Ombudsman started to experience an increase in complaints from people awaiting decisions on their citizenship applications for more than a year, and sometimes over two years,” the December report said.

“In the past year and a half, we have received approximately 300 complaints about delays by the department.”

‘Enhanced’ identity checks

Applicants from Afghanistan topped the list of those facing delays, the ombudsman found, noting those hailing from the war-torn nation had been singled out by the department as a particular caseload with “integrity issues”.

A finding from the ‘Delays in processing of applications for Australian Citizenship by conferral’ 2017 report.
Commonwealth Ombudsman

“Although the department has made progress in reducing the overall backlog of applications, its assessment of more complex cases is still an area for improvement,” the report said.

But critics say the delay is part of a deliberate policy shift that “demonised” those from refugee backgrounds and exacerbated problems caused by inadequate staffing.

“It doesn’t make sense that the department is satisfied with someone’s identity to grant them a permanent visa so they can stay in Australia for their whole life, yet when it comes to citizenship they have no idea about their identity,” the Refugee Council of Australia’s Asher Hirsch said.

Refugee community ‘demonised’

Mr Hirsch said beyond denying many refugees a sense of belonging and security, the citizenship delay effectively halted bids by some to see their loved ones. According to a 2014 ministerial directive, boat arrivals are given the lowest processing priority for family reunification visas.

The ombudsman recommended the department work on improvements to its processes to help it meet the “various challenges” of its caseload.

A 2016 Federal Court case brought by two Afghan men that found it should have reasonably taken between six and seven months to process their cases was “important guidance” for the department, the report said.

The department denied there was a backlog or delay in processing citizenship applications, and noted that Australia has “non-discriminatory migration and citizenship programs”.

“Applicants for Australian Citizenship must meet the legislative criteria, regardless of how and when they arrive in Australia,” the department said in a statement.

“The department has a duty to thoroughly assess the genuine nature of all citizenship applications.”

The report acknowledged the department’s concerns:

“In recent years, the increased awareness of identity fraud and the increased focus on ensuring the applicant is who they say they are before they are granted citizenship, has most likely caused decision-makers to take more time with high-risk applications,” it said.

“The department is acutely conscious of the fact that after a person has been approved for citizenship, it is difficult to cancel it later if it is determined the person has lied about their identity.”

via Road to citizenship gets longer for ‘demonised’ applicants

Improving Processing Times, Welcoming More New Citizens – 200,000 Mark

Significant increase and on track – the additional funding and streamlined process seems to be doing the trick:

Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander today announced that more than 200,000 people have joined the Canadian family since the start of 2014. The Minister also announced that the citizenship backlog has been reduced by 13 percent since June to its lowest level since spring 2012. These achievements are among the direct results of the government’s recent changes to citizenship processing.

Nearly 50,000 people have become Canadian citizens since a new decision-making process came into effect on August 1, 2014. That is a 172 percent increase from the same time period last year.

Recent reforms have also allowed decision-making officers to make progress on the backlog of so-called “non-routine” cases, including ones where residency questions persist. Almost half of all cases in which a residency questionnaire RQ was issued prior to November 2013 have been resolved with the applicants receiving their citizenship. Thousands more applicants who had been issued RQs are about to write their tests. These files will be evaluated by a record number of decision makers with the onus on applicants to prove they meet the requirements.

Trust with these good numbers, CIC will release the complete year figures early in 2015.

And of course, regular quarterly statistical reporting better than only reporting by press release!

Improving Processing Times, Welcoming More New Citizens – Canada News Centre.

Welcoming the 150,000th New Citizen of 2014 – Canada News Centre

Citizenship backlogThe latest citizenship processing stats:

Today, Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced that Canada has welcomed its 150,000th new citizen of 2014. This is double the number of new citizens compared to the same period in 2013 and thanks to the action taken by the government to reduce backlogs and improve processing times.

Alexander attended a citizenship ceremony in Scarborough and welcomed the country’s newest Canadians. At the event, Alexander highlighted the government’s recent changes to the citizenship system, which have led to improved processing times and an eight percent reduction to the citizenship backlog.

Given the backlog according to the February briefing package (C-24) was about 400,000 this means that it now stands at around 368,000, a reduction rate of roughly 4,000 per month (32,000 over 8 months – the exact rate may differ but this calculation is based on improved processing as of January 2014).

Accordingly to the graphic (above) in the briefing package, this rate should accelerate in 2015-16, given the impact of C-24 streamlining.

Welcoming the 150,000th New Citizen of 2014 – Canada News Centre.

Strengthening Citizenship, Speeding Up Processing – Canada News Centre

Bit of a puff piece as no hard numbers (not that the improvements are not happening, but the Government appears to have an aversion to releasing numbers on a timely basis):

It is expected that in 2015/16 the processing time for citizenship applications will be less than a year. It is also projected that the current backlog of applications will be reduced by more than 80 percent.

Changes to Citizenship Act now in effect:

In addition to the new streamlined decision making model, the government has today implemented a range of legislative amendments to further strengthen Canada’s citizenship program. These amendments relate to authorities to refuse incomplete applications and a uniform system for judicial review of citizenship decisions are also now in effect.

These changes were part of Bill C-24, the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act, which received Royal Assent on June 19, 2014. These improvements are in addition to funding in Economic Action Plan 2013 of an additional $44 million over two years to the citizenship program to ensure the timely processing of applications.

Quick facts

  • Canada has the highest rate of naturalization in the world—85 per cent of eligible permanent residents become citizens.

  • Since 2006, Canada has welcomed over 1,300,000 proud new Canadians.

  • Citizenship and Immigration Canada received 333,860 citizenship applications in 2013, the highest volume ever and a strong reminder of the value of being a Canadian citizen.

Strengthening Citizenship, Speeding Up Processing – Canada News Centre.

U of T prof still waiting for citizenship after three years | Toronto Star

An example of some of the problems in the citizenship program. C-24 streamlining will address some of these, but we will only know in 2016 when the backlog has been cleared and, more significantly, additional incremental funding ends:

Lemmens submitted his application to become a Canadian citizen in February 2011 after living and working in Canada since 1991. The native Belgian had come to Canada as a student. After completing his doctorate in 1997, he began teaching health law and bioethics at the University of Toronto — first through a joint appointment at the law faculty and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and in 1999 just at the law faculty. Married to a Canadian, he had permanent resident status and didn’t immediately apply for Canadian citizenship.

He looked into it a couple of times but didn’t meet the residency requirement because he had been out of the country twice — once for a research leave and once for a sabbatical year. He was told he could be out of the country for only a maximum of 400 days out of four years. So he waited and counted.

When he finally applied for citizenship, he thought it would be a simple matter. But the process was difficult.

After preparing his initial application and writing his citizenship exam, he was required to fill out a very detailed questionnaire for which he had to piece together not only the exact dates he was out of Canada, but also where he stayed and the reason for his absences. He also was required to produce documentation showing home and family ties as well as employment and contributions to Canadian society.

This request surprised him.He has yet to be told why he was required to fill out an additional questionnaire or why his application has taken so long.He believes it may have something to do with the fact he was missing some entry stamps when he returned to Canada from journeys abroad. ….

Lemmens believes the government has purposely made the application process complicated and bureaucratic to discourage people from applying for Canadian citizenship.

“It’s really irritating and makes me think, if my file appears difficult to evaluate, how tough must it be for people from ‘suspect’ countries, or people who don’t necessarily have the same stable employment.”

U of T prof still waiting for citizenship after three years | Toronto Star.

Minister Alexander highlights success of Canadian citizenship program: 100,000 new citizens

On track, the additional funding is working:

Today, at a citizenship ceremony in Scarborough, Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister, Chris Alexander, announced that Canada welcomed the 100,000th new citizen of 2014 last week. The number of new citizens sworn in to date in 2014 is more than double the number of new citizens admitted by this time last year.

The 100,000 new citizens, who came to Canada from more than 200 countries, were welcomed at more than 1,080 citizenship ceremonies held across the country. The citizenship ceremony is the last step before becoming a Canadian citizen and embracing the rights and responsibilities that come with citizenship. This success demonstrates that changes and improvements are already doing more to help people realize their dream of becoming Canadian.

The government’s proposed changes in Bill C-24, the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act, will further reduce wait times by streamlining the decision-making process for citizenship. It is expected that those changes will bring the average processing time for citizenship applications down to under one year and that the current backlog will be reduced by more than 80 percent by 2015-2016.

Still, in addition to legitimate ad hoc press releases, a commitment for regular and timely release of operational statistics as in Australia would help bind the current and future governments to better and sustainable management of the citizenship program (but I am a broken record on this!)

Minister Alexander highlights success of Canadian citizenship program – Canada News Centre.

Ottawa welcomes more new Canadians – Canada News Centre

Continuing with the selective release of citizenship statistics by city rather than the overall national numbers – which are the ones that matter to know if CIC is on track to eliminate the backlog and improve processing times:

Over 3,500 new citizens have been welcomed in Ottawa so far in 2014–more than three times the number of newly naturalized Canadians over the same period in 2013.

Ottawa welcomes more new Canadians – Canada News Centre.

April Citizenship Processing Statistics – New Tack

Interesting that the Government has shifted its reporting of processing gains from overall national statistics to just highlighting a number of urban centres, comparing April 2014 to April 2013:

Growing number of new citizens in Scarborough (3,200 compared to about half that)

Calgary welcomes more new citizens (1,164 compared to 284)

Montréal welcomes 750 new Canadians (approx. 750, no comparative data for 2013)

Unclear whether change in reporting reflects total national stats not as impressive as previous months, or just a different communications approach. A reminder that consistent performance information aligned to service standards still lacking.

Canada welcomes more new Canadians – Citizenship Stats

The usual monthly update on citizenship processing, showing CIC on track to eliminating the backlog through a doubling of the number of new Canadians:

Approximately 33,700 people from 199 countries became Canadian citizens at citizenship ceremonies held across Canada in March 2014. This is almost twice as many compared to March 2013 when 17,089 people were granted citizenship across Canada…

So far in 2014, Canada has welcomed more than 75,900 new citizens at 759 ceremonies across Canada. Comparatively, in the first three months of 2013, Canada welcomed 35,320 new Canadians.

Canada welcomes more new Canadians – Canada News Centre.

Still would like to see a commitment to service standards!