One year later, Citizenship Act improvements lead to more new citizens – The numbers

Almost one year after the changes to residency requirements (from 4 to 3 years) and fewer applicants having to be tested for language and knowledge (from 14-64 to 18-54), the number of applications has increased.

As noted before, the residency requirement change is a one time impact, with this year being a “double year” with 3 and 4 year cohorts combined. The reduced testing requirements, primarily the 55-64 year olds, has both a one-time impact (those who put off getting citizenship) as well as ongoing.

The new “normal” will be known with the 2019 numbers:

This year, Citizenship Week (October 8 to 14, 2018) will be celebrated with 72 special citizenship ceremonies across the country. Citizenship Week also marks the 1 year anniversary of Bill C 6, which brought in important changes to the Citizenship Act, helping qualified applicants get citizenship faster.

The changes from Bill C 6 came into effect on October 11, 2017, and provided those wanting to become Canadian citizens with greater flexibility to meet the requirements. In particular, the changes reduced the time permanent residents must be physically present in Canada before applying for citizenship from 4 out of 6 years to 3 out of 5 years.

By the end of October 2018, an estimated 152,000 people will have obtained Canadian citizenship since the changes came into effect, an increase of 40%, compared to the 108,000 people who obtained citizenship in the same period the year before.

Bill C 6 has allowed more permanent residents to apply for citizenship. In the 9 month period from October 2017 to June 2018, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) received 242,680 applications, more than double the 102,261 applications that were received in the same period the year before. Despite the increase in applications, processing times for routine citizenship applications remain under 12 months.

Source: Taking Canadian Citizenship to New Heights This Citizenship Week

Citizenship Week Statement from the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Hard to disagree with the message.

The good news about citizenship is that IRCC has addressed the previous backlog of over 300,000 through granting citizenship to some 500,000 people during 2014 and 2015.

The bad news is the sharp decline in those applying to become citizens, from a previous average of 200,000 per year to 130,000 in 2015 and only 36,000 in the first half of this year.

The steep increase in fees from $100 to $530 in 2015 largely responsible. More to come later this week:

“Every year Citizenship Week gives Canadians the opportunity to reflect on what it means to be Canadian: the rights we enjoy, the responsibilities we share, and the diversity that makes us strong.

“Canada is respected around the world for our success at reaching out to newcomers and embracing them into our great nation. This makes our citizenship both valued and sought-after. And one of the strongest pillars of success and integration is the act of becoming a citizen, which is why we encourage newcomers to take the path to citizenship.

“I am proud to say that the citizenship processing backlog has been reduced by more than 80%, and as such, most new citizenship applications are being processed within 12 months.

“As the Prime Minister has said many times, we are a strong country because of our diversity and not in spite of it. During Citizenship Week, let us join together and celebrate that diversity and the hundreds of cultures that make up Canada.

“I encourage Canadians to reaffirm their citizenship this week as a sign of pride in our traditions, history, and institutions. And I encourage you to share what your citizenship means to you on social media using #MyCitizenship and #CitizenshipWeek.”

Source: Statement from the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship – Canada News Centre