Shawn Taylor: Are Immigrants Falling out of Love with Canada? (And is it Because We Feel the Same?)

Further interest by conservatives on self-administered citizenship oaths, along with concerns over declining naturalization rates, the latter reflecting a longer-term trend, the steep increase in citizenship fees under the Harper government, and the shutdown and slow recovery of citizenship in 2020 and 2021. Dual citizenship prohibitions appears to be less of a factor except for Chinese immigrants.

Understandably, but unfortunately, Shawn Taylor then argues that it is more the “sense of self loathing” and negative narratives that explains the decline with little to no evidence (no public opinion research that I have seen substantiates this claim). He then praises the existing citizenship guide, Discover Canada, developed under the Harper government, which was a vast improvement over its predecessor but overly reflected the ideological bias of that government:

New Canadians may soon face a brand-new obstacle on their path to citizenship. Beyond interminable delays and hefty fees, by June they could also find themselves having to prove they’re not a robot by clicking on every image that contains a motorcycle. Or a parking meter. Or a horse

Last month Ottawa announced plans to eliminate the long-standing requirement that citizenship applicants publicly swear (or affirm) Canada’s Oath of Citizenship at an official ceremony before receiving their citizenship papers. Such oath-taking ceremonies have been a requirement since 1947. And while they went virtual during Covid-19, they’ve always been public events overseen by a citizenship judge or other designated Crown representative.

Now, with massive waiting times afflicting the entire immigration system, the federal Liberals are proposing to speed up this last stage in the process via a “secure online solution.” Immigrants will simply have to left-click their computer mouse to complete their oath and thus become citizens of Canada. It seems an uninspiring culmination to what should be an important, if not life-changing, event.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government unveiled this time-saving proposal quietly in the Canada Gazette on February 25, but it has since attracted plenty of high-profile outrage from Canada’s Liberal elite. Former Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson said she was “horrified” by the idea of doing away with citizenship ceremonies, calling them the “mark of a civilized society.” Sergio Marchi, federal immigration minister during the Jean Chrétien years, called it “a misguided idea” that would add “insult to injury!” (Exclamation in original.) Former Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi added that it was “a terrible idea.”

“Becoming a Canadian citizen is a transformational event,” explains Daniel Bernhard, CEO of the Institute for Canadian Citizenship (ICC), in an interview. “This is truly a special ‘once in a lifetime’ occasion – you can get married more than once, you can have more than one child but you can only become a Canadian once. We should celebrate it as such.” Bernhard worries that turning the final stage of citizenship into a “box you tick” will degrade its significance by making it indistinguishable from any run-of-the-mill online transaction.

The ICC, founded by Clarkson and her husband John Ralston Saul in 2005, is an advocacy group focused on integrating and celebrating new Canadians. To this end, it hosts lavish citizenship ceremonies in iconic locations, such as Toronto’s Pearson International Airport or in national parks, and encourages existing Canadians to attend in order to create a broader sense of community engagement. “Everyone is invited to the party,” Bernhard says. “We want to extend a collective welcome and make it a moment for reflection and celebration. Citizenship isn’t just something on your passport. It should exist in your heart as well.”

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada is actually over-staffed when it comes to processing immigration applications. ‘IRCC is estimated to have 65% more staff than would be required to meet the goal’ of its own service standards, the PBO reports.Tweet

It is, of course, impossible to know what exists in Ottawa’s heart. But the federal government appears determined to make the citizenship process dramatically less special – downright banal, in fact. And for reasons that are of its own creation. While the federal government’s current service standard states that a citizenship application will be processed in 12 months, new applicants are currently being told it will take two years to complete, including a three-month wait to schedule a citizenship ceremony.  

What’s causing the delay? Waiting times have exploded across the federal bureaucracy, and it can’t be blamed on a lack of resources. According to a recent report from the Parliamentary Budget Officer, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is actually over-staffed when it comes to processing immigration applications. “IRCC is estimated to have 65% more staff than would be required to meet the goal” of its own service standards, the PBO reports.

Set against such evidence of bureaucratic ineptitude, it seems downright satirical for Ottawa to suggest that new Canadians will “enjoy time savings…[of] approximately 90 minutes” by not having to sit through a formal citizenship ceremony they would likely have remembered for the rest of their lives. “This government has a problem providing the basic service of immigration applications,” snaps Bernhard. “The ceremony is not the problem.”

An Even Bigger Citizenship Problem

When it comes to the state of Canadian citizenship, however, Bernhard has bigger worries than the mere loss of public formalities. Top of the list is the fact new arrivals to this country appear to be falling out of love with the idea of becoming Canadian in the first place. Earlier this year, ICC asked Statistics Canada for an update on the rate at which immigrants become citizens.

In 1991, 68.6 percent of immigrants holding a permanent residency card achieved citizenship between five and nine years of arriving. (Permanent residents can apply for citizenship after spending five years in Canada.) This figure rose above 75 percent in the next two censuses. It has since fallen dramatically. In 2016, only 60.4 percent of permanent residents became citizens within the stated time period. And according to the latest 2021 census data provided by Statcan, it’s now down to 45.7 percent. In other words, fewer than half of recent immigrants are choosing to become Canadian citizens once they’re eligible.

Falling out of love with Canada? According to recent Statistics Canada data, fewer than half of recent Canadian immigrants choose to apply for citizenship after their five-year wait period is up.

“The figures are shocking,” says Bernhard. He considers the trend a fundamental blow to Canadian identity: “One of the ways Canadians see themselves as being unique in the world is in how we welcome immigrants. It is a tradition that goes back to before the founding of Canada.” As proof, he cites an 1840 speech by pre-Confederation Quebec politician Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine, who declared that Canada’s strength lay in welcoming “various populations which come from diverse portions of the globe” and making them “like ourselves, Canadian.”

Now, however, the data suggests a decided lack of interest among new arrivals in joining what Bernhard calls “the team that is Canada.” If immigrants decide they don’t really care about signing up for membership in Team Canada, “then we’ve got a big problem.”

Mobile Free Agents or Pressure from Communist China?

Canada has a lot invested in immigration. Earlier this year, the Trudeau government announced new targets for in-migration that are unprecedented in the modern era. After accepting fewer than 200,000 permanent immigrants in 2020, the Liberals now plan to increase intake to 465,000 in 2023 and 500,000 by 2025. Such a tidal wave of new residents clearly is already straining the capacity of the housing market and likely fuelling inflation as well. Nonetheless, immigration enjoys strong support across all political parties and regions, if somewhat tempered in Quebec. This national consensus appears to be holding because the needs of the labour market are so great. But if all these newcomers feel no particular attachment or affection for their new country, then the economic argument for immigration becomes much weaker.

Chinese immigrants must now choose one passport or the other when they arrive in Canada. If they can’t have both, it appears most are deciding to remain Chinese citizens even after they settle permanently in this country.Tweet

Bernhard admits he doesn’t have an answer to why new arrivals seem to be increasingly disenchanted with becoming Canadian, and he’s hoping Statcan will soon offer more clarity on the issue. From his perspective, the worst-case scenario is if these ambivalent immigrants are mostly highly-educated, high-income “free agents” who are prepared to pull up stakes and move to another country as soon as something better comes along.

Bolstering this fear is a recent poll conducted by ICC of new Canadians showing that nearly one-third of 18-34-year-olds and one-quarter of those with a university education considered themselves likely to move elsewhere in the next two years. As these potentially wealthy – and wealth-creating – individuals offer a substantial economic advantage to whichever country they settle in, Canada has a strong incentive to retain them. Getting them to become citizens seems the surest way to lock them down.

Partly easing this fear of mobile free-agent immigrants is a 2019 Statcan study using earlier data that found the decline in citizenship uptake to be largely driven by immigrants with low education and low income. Further, almost the entire drop between 1996 and 2016 was attributable to migrants from one country in one region. “Most striking was the large decline in citizenship take-up among immigrants from East Asia – mainly China,” the Statcan report states. Naturalization rates for all East Asian immigrants fell from 83 percent to 45 percent over this time.

Communist China’s increasingly strident prohibition on dual citizenship may be to blame here, since it means footloose Chinese immigrants must now choose one passport or the other when they arrive in Canada. If they can’t have both, it appears most are deciding to remain Chinese citizens even after they settle permanently in this country. And if government policy in China is the principal factor behind the precipitous decline in citizenship uptake, then there’s little Canada can do to correct the situation

An international perspective is also useful. According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) International Migration Outlook 2022 Canada remains near the top of the immigration leaderboard despite recent concerns. We stand third overall in terms of total immigrants accepted, trailing only the United States and Germany. (While the U.S. is often painted as unwelcoming, it has long been the world’s dominant recipient of permanent, legal immigrants. Under President Donald Trump, for example, it admitted more than 1 million immigrants annually until Covid-19 hit in 2020; last year it welcomed over 830,000.)

As well, the average annual rate at which foreign-born residents become citizens across all OECD countries is just 2.2 percent. In Canada, it’s 4 percent – nearly twice as high. While the OECD also notes Canada’s citizenship rate has fallen significantly in recent years, this global perspective does not reveal any grave threat to Canada’s way of life or its ability to attract immigrants. Among the top five immigrant-accepting countries (Spain and the United Kingdom complete the set), all have substantially larger populations than Canada; our status as a generous, welcoming and desirable country appears solid.

The Horror Stories We Tell Ourselves 

The evident decline in Canada’s citizenship rates may say more about the attitudes and habits of existing Canadians than those of newly-arriving immigrants. The federal bureaucracy’s failure to meet its own published service standards is certainly a self-inflicted wound. As is the proposal to solve this problem by eliminating much-loved citizenship ceremonies. The effect of both situations is to debase the perceived status of Canadian citizenship by emphasizing the transactional over the transformational. Then there’s the Roxham Road debacle, which offers migrants the opportunity to illegally sneak into our country via a dead-end road rather than at a regular border crossing and still be recognized as refugee claimants, with all the official support and standing this entails. If Canadian citizenship is supposed to be so valuable, it seems foolish to further cheapen the reputation of the entire immigration system in this way.

Beneath these obvious failures of governance and policy, however, lurks an even deeper and more insidious problem. As Bernhard explains, becoming a citizen is akin to joining a team with all other Canadians. A “club,” so to speak, that is exclusive to those who wish to be identified as Canadian and who intend to participate in its promotion and maintenance by voting and performing other civic duties. If we accept such an analogy, then it clearly matters how we advertise and promote this club to new members. So what sort of stories do Canadians tell about their own country these days? And do they amount to an effective marketing strategy?

 “The story of Canada that our major institutions tell has increasingly become one that focuses on only the most negative aspects of our country, such as oppression, racism, discrimination and dispossession,” observes Christopher Dummitt, an historian at Trent University’s School for the Study of Canada in Peterborough, Ontario. Common examples of this new tendency are factually-dubious claims, often from officially sanctioned sources, that Canada has committed and continues to commit genocide against the Indigenous population, is systemically racist towards black people, was once a slave country, and on and on. “It is a deliberate distortion of our actual history,” says Dummitt in an interview.

This sense of national self-loathing has become so encompassing that official multiculturalism, once billed as an unquestionable Canadian value, is now considered evidence of an “unjust society premised on white supremacy,” as two University of Calgary education professorsabsurdly argued last year. Even professed supporters of Canadian identity, such as ICC co-founder Ralston Saul, now casually declare that “Canada has failed on many fronts.” As for how such a perspective might work as a branding exercise, Dummitt says, “If the story about Canada is that it was an institutionally corrupt nation beset by the original sin of colonialism, then why would anyone want to become a citizen of that?”

Dummitt has been pushing back against the now-pervasive narrative that Canada is, at its core, morally bankrupt. In 2021 he organized a rebuttal signed by many eminent Canadian historians condemning the Canadian Historical Association’s (CHA) unilateral declaration that Canada’s treatment of Indigenous peoples was “genocidal.” In making such a claim, Dummitt’s rebuttal stated, the CHA was “insulting the basic standards of good scholarly conduct.” He has also spoken out against the practice of tearing down statues honouring Canada’s founding fathers, and is currently fighting Toronto’s plans to scrub the name of 18th century British parliamentarian Henry Dundas from its streets and public squares on the (entirely bogus) assertion that he was an ally to the slave trade. “We need to call out these nonsensical claims,” Dummitt states determinedly. “And we need politicians who are willing to celebrate the Canadian nation in diverse ways.”

If there is a piquant irony to how Canadian history is currently being told by and to Canadians, it’s that new immigrants are actually more likely to receive a fair, balanced and generally uplifting vision of their new country than native-born residents. That’s because immigrants must still study for their citizenship test using a guidebook written by the Conservative government of Stephen Harper before our current historical miasma took effect.

Discover Canada, unveiled in 2011 by former Citizenship and Immigration minister Jason Kenney, was widely recognized for its nuanced treatment of Canada’s history, governance and culture. It explicitly acknowledges the low points in our past – including the Indian Residential School system and racist policies towards Chinese immigrants – but never claims such events represent the totality of the Canadian experience. The overall (and entirely honest) message is that Canada has always been a remarkably tolerant and welcoming country with a proud heritage of accommodation, democracy and the opportunity to achieve prosperity for all. As a result, Dummitt observes, immigrants who read the guidebook may actually have a better understanding of the true nature of Canada than Canadian students who’ve been force-fed a litany of horror stories about our past in high school and university classrooms.

Precisely because of the guidebook’s even-handedness and generally upbeat tone, however, many groups are demanding it be replaced with something grimmer and much less complimentary about Canada and its past. When the CBC tried to foment outrage over the continuing existence of the Harper-era citizenship guide in 2019, Janet Dench, then-executive director of the Canadian Council for Refugees, called the situation “incomprehensible” and demanded a new version that “acknowledges the problems in Canadian and current reality, and how that affects Indigenous and racialized people.” In other words, Dench wanted Ottawa to tell newcomers a much more negative – and almost certainly much less accurate – story about the country they were coming to. With this sort of self-hatred being expressed by current citizens, is it any wonder immigrants are having second thoughts about joining Club Canada?

Discover Canada, the Canadian citizenship study guide introduced by the Harper government in 2011, is one of the few remaining official documents that offers an evenhanded and generally uplifting vision of Canada’s history by celebrating our legacy of democracy, accomodation and prosperity. 

If we want to make Canadian citizenship more attractive to newcomers, the first order of business should be to project a more uplifting story about what Canada means. And to do that, says Dummitt, “we need to stop telling lies about our past.”

Peter Shawn Taylor is senior features editor at C2C Journal. He lives in Waterloo, Ontario. 

Source: Are Immigrants Falling out of Love with Canada? (And is it Because We Feel the Same?)

Record year for EU countries granting citizenship to foreigners

Some useful data here even if 2021, not 2022. By way of comparison, the Canadian figure, in terms of total population in 2022 is higher, about 9.3 per thousand:

In total 827,300 people acquired citizenship in EU member states in 2021, an increase of around 98,300 (14 per cent) over 2020, when the number was 729,000, according to the latest data published by the EU statistical office Eurostat.

Although the figures are likely to see a ‘pandemic effect’ compared to 2020 when many countries shut down or severely restricted administrative processes during the lockdowns, the figures also show a rise compared to 2019. In that year 706,400 people were granted citizenship in EU countries.

Around the EU countries, the administrative process of getting citizenship takes an average of two years, so most of the people getting their citizenship in 2021 would have applied for it in previous years.

Largest growth in France

The largest increase in absolute terms was recorded in France (+43,900 compared to 2020), followed by Germany (+18,800), Spain (+17,700), Sweden (+9,200) and Austria (+7,200).

In 10 countries, however, the number decreased, with the largest decline in Italy (-10,300), Portugal (-7,600) and Greece (-3,200).

Among new citizens, the proportion of women was slightly higher than men (50.2 over 49.8 per cent), especially for the age groups above 30. The median age of persons acquiring citizenship in the EU was 32.

About of quarter, 25 per cent, were children between 0 and 14 years old, with the highest proportions in Slovenia (35 per cent), Latvia (34 per cent) and France (33 per cent), according to the data, which Eurostat collects from national statistical offices.

Highest naturalisation rate in Sweden

In relation to the total population, the highest number of citizenships were granted by Sweden (8.6 per thousand persons), followed by Luxembourg (7.8) and the Netherlands (3.6).

Sweden also topped EU countries for naturalisation rate, the proportion of persons who acquire citizenship in relation to all non-national residents.

Sweden granted 10 citizenships per 100 foreign residents in 2021, followed by the Netherlands (5.4), Romania (4.6), Portugal (3.7) and Belgium and Spain (both 2.7). The lowest naturalisation rate was in the Baltic states, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, all below 0.5, while the EU average was 2.2.

Non-EU citizens most likely to naturalise

Similar to the previous year, the vast majority of people who obtained citizenship of an EU member state were from non-EU countries: 706,900, or 85 per cent of the total.

The largest group was from Morocco (86,200 people, who acquired citizenship mostly in Spain or France), followed by Syrian (83,500, mostly in Sweden and the Netherlands), and Albanians (32,300, mostly in Italy). Then came Romanians (mostly in Italy and Germany), and Turks (Germany and France).

Among new EU citizens there were also 5,370 US nationals (compared to 3,425 in 2020), with the largest number in Austria, Norway, France, Sweden and Italy.

Naturalisation of British citizens 

The Brexit vote in 2016 led to a big increase in citizenship applications among Brits who lived in the EU, as they faced the prospect of losing their rights to EU freedom of movement.

According to Professor Maarten Vink, Chair in Citizenship Studies at the European University Institute in Italy, since 2016, more than 100,000 Brits have acquired citizenship in EU countries.

The peak for citizenship granted to Brits was in 2019, and since then numbers have seen a decrease. Anecdotally, many of the applications after 2016 were from Brits who had been resident in an EU country for many years, so could have naturalised previously.

Some 10,600 Britons acquired citizenship in EU countries in 2021, ranking 19th among other nationalities. The number decreased by 5,400, or 34 per cent, over 2020.

The largest groups were recorded in Germany (2,345), Austria (1,190), Ireland (1,186), Sweden (1,131), Belgium (1,010), Denmark (546). Only 163 were recorded in France, 343 in Spain and 453 in Italy. UK national acquiring citizenship in Norway were 1,578 and in Switzerland 855.

Source: Record year for EU countries granting citizenship to foreigners

40% decline in permanent residents becoming Canadian citizens since 2001, data shows

Of concern, accelerating trend that I started identifying a number of years ago:

StatCan numbers reveal the percentage of permanent residents who become Canadians has plummeted over the past 20 years.

The Institute for Canadian Citizenship says Statistics Canada data points to a 40 per cent decline in citizenship uptake since 2001.

The group’s CEO, Daniel Bernhard, calls the drop alarming and says it should serve as a “wake up call” to improving the experience newcomers have in Canada.

In 2021, nearly 45.7 per cent of permanent residents who’d been in Canada for less than 10 years became citizens.

That’s down from 60 per cent in 2016, and 75.1 per cent in 2001.

The StatCan data did not identify reasons for the drop, but Bernhard suggests Canada’s cost of living and job prospects are likely factors.

He says the institute is investigating root causes.

“There are a myriad of issues,” said Bernhard.

“But ultimately, what’s changing is that people have decided that they’re less interested in being `Team Canada.”’

Bernhard said the decline affects Canada’s long-term economic and social outlook.

“This is a problem for all of us who care about Canada’s future prosperity and dynamism,” he said. “We need to solve this for the future of our country.”

The federal government has said it wants to boost immigration by adding 1.45 million permanent residents over the next three years, starting with 465,000 in 2023 and increasing to 500,000 in 2025.

Source: 40% decline in permanent residents becoming Canadian citizens since 2001, data shows

The National Post take:

As Canada ratchets up immigration to the highest levels in its history, surprising new figures from Statistics Canada are showing that nearly half of all recent immigrants are no longer bothering to seek Canadian citizenship.

The numbers were publicized this week by the Institute for Canadian Citizenship. And according to the group’s CEO Daniel Bernhard, they may be a sign that the Canadian dream is no longer working out for newcomers.

“What’s changing is that people have decided that they’re less interested in being ‘Team Canada,’” Bernhard said in a statement, adding that the figures are a “wake up” call to the Canadian immigrant experience is treating new arrivals.

In 2021, of the permanent residents who had come to Canada within the last 10 years, just 45.7 per cent had become citizens. In 2001, that figure was 75.1 per cent.

It’s not the first time that evidence has emerged to show that new immigrants are not as enthralled with Canada as in prior decades.

A March Leger survey — also commissioned by the Institute for Canadian Citizenship — found that more than one fifth of recent immigrants were already making plans to leave. Among under-34 immigrants, in particular, 30 per cent said they were “likely” to leave Canada within the next two years.

As to why, newcomers are citing the same concerns with the country as native-born Canadians: Skyrocketing housing costs and diminishing access to government services such as health care.

In the Leger poll, even among immigrants who wanted to stay, their number one reservation was “high cost of living.”

In a bid to boost GDP, the Trudeau government has already raised Canada’s immigration intake to the highest levels in Canadian history, and is on track to bring in 500,000 newcomers annually by 2025. Absent any dramatic policy changes, this influx will likely worsen many of the issues that are already beginning to scare away new Canadians.

On Tuesday, CIBC CEO Victor Dodig warned that if Canada continued packing in immigrants without a viable plan to absorb them, it could spur an unprecedented “social crisis.”

“New Canadians want to establish a life here, they need a roof over their heads. We need to get that policy right and not wave the flag saying isn’t it great that everyone wants to come to Canada,” Dodig said at an event hosted by Canadian Club Toronto.

One other factor potentially driving down rates of immigrants seeking citizenship is that Canada’s immigrant stream is increasingly coming from countries that do not tolerate dual citizenship, thus prompting many newcomers to remain permanent residents in perpetuity.

The chief examples are India and China. Indian nationals are required to surrender their Indian passport the moment they become Canadian citizens. Chinese prohibitions on dual citizenship were illustrated most glaringly in 2021, when the Beijing government tightened its control on Hong Kong by forcing 300,000 residents with joint Canadian citizenship to either leave or tear up their Canadian passport.

Both countries now represent a significant share of Canada’s current immigrant influx. As per 2021 figures, 18.6 per cent of recent Canadian immigrants reported India as their birthplace, while 8.9 per cent reported being born in China.

For context, just three per cent of recent immigrants were born in the United States.

In 2022, Canada officially welcomed 431,645 immigrants. Notably, the last time in Canadian history that immigration levels were this high — during the settling of the prairies in the years preceding the First World War – it was also paired with surging levels of outmigration as many newcomers swiftly abandoned their new Canadian homesteads.

“A lot of people left; outmigration was as high as in-migration for a very, very long time,” Adele Perry, a researcher of Western Canadian history, told the National Post in 2012.

Source: Canada is scaring away its new immigrants

Latest StatsCan Citizenship Study: Declining naturalization

This latest study by Statistics Canada on the naturalization rate is both humbling and gratifying.

Humbling in its methodological rigour and thoroughness, compared to my more rudimentary analysis. 

Gratifying, in that it confirms my earlier sounding the alarm that the recent naturalization rate has been declining, for lower income, lower educated and less official language fluent immigrants.

The paper also strengthens the case for IRCC to adopt a meaningful performance standard for the citizenship program, one based upon the naturalization rate for those immigrants who have been in Canada between five and nine years (previous census period) rather than the current meaningless performance measure related to all immigrants, whether recent or many years ago.

Conclusion excerpted below:

This paper uses census data from 1991 to 2016 to examine changes in the citizenship rate among recent immigrants who meet the residency requirement to become citizens. The results show that the citizenship rate among recent immigrants peaked in 1996 and declined considerably since then. This decline primarily occurred after 2006. Furthermore, the decline in the citizenship rate varied across socio-demographic characteristics, and the timing of the decline varied across immigrant groups as well.

Immigrants with lower family incomes experienced a much larger decline in citizenship rates than did those with higher family incomes. The decline among lower income immigrant families largely occurred between 2006 and 2011. The citizenship rate also declined much more among immigrants with poorer official language skills than it did among immigrants whose mother tongue was English or French. The citizenship rate among immigrants with poorer official language skills has been declining since 2001 and was observed over all intercensal periods. Education was also a factor, with citizenship rates declining much more among immigrants with lower than higher levels of educational attainment. This was primary observed between 2011 and 2016.

When all three of these factors—family income, knowledge of official languages, and educational attainment—are combined, the citizenship rate was more or less constant between 1996 and 2016 for the most advantaged group of recent immigrants (i.e., with a high income, university education, and English or French as a mother tongue). In contrast, it declined significantly among the more disadvantaged group (i.e., with a low income, high school or less education and mother tongue not English or French).

There was also significant variation in the extent to which citizenship rates declined among immigrants from different source regions. Most striking was the large decline in citizenship take-up among immigrants from East Asia—mainly China. Indeed, by 2016 the citizenship rate among recent Chinese immigrants more closely resembled the rate among immigrants from developed rather than from developing countries.

Source: Trends in the Citizenship Rate Among New Immigrants to Canada (11-626-X2019015)

The CP story on the study:

Fewer newcomers from disadvantaged groups became Canadian citizens during a 10-year period that coincided with the previous Conservative government’s changes to the citizenship program, new Statistics Canada research shows.

The decrease was part an overall trend in declining citizenship rates among those who have been in Canada less than 10 years, despite the fact the actual citizenship rate in Canada is among the highest in the Western world, Statistics Canada said in the study released Wednesday.

The researchers found that between 1991 and 2016, the citizenship rate in Canada – the percentage of immigrants who become citizens – rose about five percentage points, but the increase was largely driven by people who had been in Canada for over a decade.

But beginning in 1996 and until 2016, the citizenship rate for those who’d been in the country for less than 10 years began to fall.

Using adjusted income measurements, Statistics Canada found that for those with incomes below $10,000, the drop was 23.5 percentage points, compared to just three percentage points for those with incomes over $100,000.

In the same decade, the citizenship rate fell 22.5 percentage points among people with less than a high school education, compared with 13.8 percentage points among those with university degrees.

In the case of both income levels and education, the gaps widened between 2011 and 2016.

Between 2011 and 2015, the Conservative government of the day overhauled the citizenship program, hiking citizenship fees from $100 to $630 and implementing stricter language, residency and knowledge requirements.

The Statistics Canada research does not provide specific reasons for the decline in citizenship rates.

“Multiple policy changes were made throughout the 2006 to 2016 period,” Laurence Beaudoin-Corriveau, an agency spokesperson, said in an email. “It is difficult to pinpoint the effect of a particular policy change with the census data, which are collected every five years.”

The Conservatives defended the decision to raise citizenship fees – they had not increased since 1995 – by arguing that the fee didn’t come close to covering the cost of actually processing the applications. They had foreseen that the rise could impact applications, noting at the time it might mean people wait longer in order to save the money required.

In their platform during the recent federal election, the Liberals took the opposite approach, promising to eliminate the fee beginning next year.

“The process of granting citizenship is a government service, not something that should be paid for with a user fee,” the platform said.

The Liberals pegged the cost of removing the fee at $391 million over four years.

In 2017, they also eased other citizenship requirements, including residency obligations and the age range for being required to pass language and knowledge tests.

According to the latest numbers from Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada, 176,473 people became Canadian citizens in 2018, up from 106,373 the year before.

Source: New Statistics Canada study suggests decline in citizenship rate tied to income

One in three Chinese immigrants fail to acquire Australian citizenship amid ‘unwarranted delays’

Some interesting data. Have not looked at recent Canadian citizenship pass rates to know if there is a similar pattern here.

But we do know that Chinese immigrants have a relatively lower naturalization rate than many other groups: 77.2 percent compared to the overall naturalization rate of for those who immigrated to Canada 2006-10 (Census 2016):

One in three migrants from mainland China has failed to acquire Australian citizenship since 2012 amid the growing political debate over Chinese influence.

The figure, the highest of any nation in the top 10 sources of new Australian citizens, follows a collapse in the number of Chinese residents approved last financial year, when only 11 per cent of these applicants were granted citizenship as Home Affairs struggled to keep up with demand.

The department pulled that figure back up this year, with 42 per cent of Chinese applications between 2017 and 2019 approved overall.

But figures, given in response to questions on notice in Parliament show that, since 2012, just 64 per cent of applicants from China were approved, compared with 69 per cent from the Philippines, 77 per cent from Britain and India, and 90 per cent from South Africa. The figures exclude migrants from Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Up to 390 Chinese migrants have had their citizenship put on hold for three years, while 9600 have been waiting for two years despite already being permanent residents for several years. At the same time, 2350 Afghani migrants have been waiting since 2015 to have their citizenship applications processed.

A Home Affairs spokesperson said the department did not treat citizenship applications from people from certain backgrounds more favourably than others.

The spokesperson said processing times could vary due to individual circumstances, including the time it takes to receive additional character and national security information from external agencies and the time it takes for the applicant to attend a citizenship ceremony or receive a citizenship certificate.

The Morrison government has blamed the delays on an increase in the complexity of applications. An Auditor-General’s report dismissed this in February, finding that “overall, the relative complexity of the applications lodged has decreased” and the backlog was due to tighter security screenings.

The Home Affairs spokesperson said the department had implemented a number of strategies to improve processing times and reduce the on-hand caseload of applications, without “compromising on national security” or “program integrity”.

The figures come amid a decline in Chinese applications overall. The absolute number of applications for Australian citizenship by residents of Chinese heritage has halved since 2017, when there were 14,707 applicants, compared with 7999 last year.

Political tension between the Chinese and Australian governments has grown since 2017, when former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull angered the Chinese government by introducing foreign interference laws. Mr Turnbull last year banned Chinese telco giant Huawei from building Australia’s 5G network due to national security concerns.

Scott Morrison, who is yet to visit Beijing since becoming prime minister in August last year, has become more aggressive in his differences with China on global trade policy since visiting US President Donald Trump in September. Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne has also sharpened her criticism of the deteriorating situation in Hong Kong.

The chair of the Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia, Mary Patetsos, said the federation hoped people from all backgrounds and nationalities would receive equal treatment in relation to the processing of their citizenship applications.

“I think this is what an overwhelming majority of Australians would expect as citizens of a country that strives to be fair, equitable and democratic,” she said.

“We must also remember that unwarranted delays in the processing of citizenship applications cause significant hardship for families.”

Labor MP Julian Hill, who asked for the figures from Home Affairs and has launched a parliamentary inquiry into the citizenship audit, said the delays had caused widespread anxiety among migrants in his Melbourne electorate of Bruce.

He said some applicants were unable to travel where they needed to without an Australian passport, or apply for jobs in the public service or defence force.

“Then of course there is the big issue of family reunions. People are in my office weekly because they are desperate,” he said.

“Until they are citizens, their family reunion applications will get no priority. That means they have not been able to see their wife, husband or kids for years. The sheer inhumanity of that is astounding.”

Source: One in three Chinese immigrants fail to acquire Australian citizenship amid ‘unwarranted delays’

IRCC Departmental Plan 2018-19: Citizenship

The new framing of citizenship places citizenship outside of integration in the 2018-19 Departmental plan, viewing citizenship as more operational in nature rather than key to integration.

Moreover, the plan includes an incorrect naturalization rate of 85.8 percent for the 2016 Census rather than a more accurate rate of 30.5 percent, given their methodology using the four-year residency requirement for the full 2011-16 period without accounting for the fact that the three-year residency requirement was in effect  until May 28, 2015 (my detailed analysis in my article, What the census tells us about citizenship).

This will likely come back to haunt IRCC and StatsCan in 2021 as using the same methodology would mean assuming a three-year residency period for the entire 2016-20 period, despite the four-year period being in effect for 649 days, or about 35 percent of the time.

And of course by overstating naturalization rate now, and understating in 2021 (assuming they are consistent in their methodology), the decline will appear larger.

I look forward to doing the analysis then!

Summary chart below:

Metropolis 2018 - Citizenship.025.png

Core Responsibility 3: Citizenship and Passports

IRCC promotes the rights and responsibilities of Canadian citizenship, and issues secure and internationally recognized Canadian citizenship and travel documents so that Canadians can participate fully in civic society and so that travel is facilitated across borders while contributing to international and domestic security.

 The Department is consulting with Indigenous organizations and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada to update in 2018–2019, through a legislative amendment, the Oath of Citizenship to include reference to respecting treaties with Canada’s Indigenouspeoples. This is also in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.

To improve the client experience, the Department is also working in collaboration with the Canadian Digital Service to improve flexibility in accessing citizenship tests and ceremonies. Furthermore, the Department is considering additional enhancements in 2018–2019 which could allow more electronic accessibility options.

Planned result: Eligible permanent residents become Canadian citizens

Departmental Result Indicators


Date to achieve targets

2014–15 Actual results

2015–16 Actual results

2016–17 Actual results

Percentage of permanent residents who become Canadian citizens

≥ 85%

2021 (every five years)

85.6% (2011)

85.6% (2011)

85.8% (2016)

Percentage of citizenship applications that are processed within service standards18

≥ 80%

End of each FY




Percentage of citizenship applicants who report they were satisfied overall with the services they received19

≥ 90%


End of each CY


Ottawa hiking citizenship fees for second time in a year | various

Naturalization rateWhenever governments have bad news to convey, they either cloak it up with good news, or try to bury it before a long weekend or holiday.

In this case, raising citizenship fees, the Government has done both: burying the announcement in a press release announce success in addressing the backlog (some 260,000) new Canadian citizens, and issuing the press release just before Christmas.

One has to ask whether this further increase was already planned but, for a political management perspective, the Government decided better to increase fees in a two-step process.

Or was it simply incompetence in that the earlier calculations of citizenship processing costs underestimated the true costs, and over-estimated the savings from the revisions to the Citizenship Act?

My normal preference is to assume incompetence (having seen it in myself) rather than more Machiavellian interpretations.

But in any case, the increase makes Canada significantly more expensive than Australia ($AU 300 or CAD $282). Moreover, comparison to the USA ignores the fact that the US Citizenship and Immigration Service retains any fees for operations (hence the Republican frustration with President Obama’s immigration initiative as they have no funding levers available to counter them), whereas in Canada the $60 million the increase generates would normally go to the consolidated revenue fund and not to CIC to cover additional costs).

More substantively, this and other changes will continue to erode the Canadian model of immigration as a pathway to citizenship. As indicated in the StatsCan chart above, the 85.6 percent naturalization rate trumpeted by many a CIC Minister only applies to previous waves of immigration, with more recent waves having much lower rates (37 percent).

An area of concern and one to monitor, given that it moves us towards more disenfranchised residents who cannot participate in the political and democratic processes:

In February, Citizenship and Immigration Canada already increased the fee from $100 to $300 in order to recover its administrative costs. The upcoming raise means it will now cost applicants five times the money for their citizenship applications within a year. Successful candidates must also pay another $100 rights of citizenship fee to become citizens.

Officials said the fee changes are necessary to pay for the more stringent citizenship process introduced by the government to clear a backlog it created with the “residence questionnaire,” which is used to scrutinize if applicants have physically spent enough time in Canada to qualify for citizenship.

In August, Immigration Minister Chris Alexander also announced a new streamlined decision-making process to cut the backlog, which has since been reduced by 17 per cent. In total, Canada welcomed more than 260,000 new citizens this year.

“With a record number of new Canadians this year, it is clear that our government’s changes to the Citizenship Act are having a real impact,” Alexander said in a statement.

“We are fulfilling our commitment to reducing backlogs and improving processing times.”

Based on citizenship projections from 2014, the fee raise could bring in an additional $60 million to the federal coffers in 2015.

Hard not to think of this as more of a “cash grab,” given that the changes were partially sold on efficiency grounds and that CIC received an influx of $44 million in Budget 2013 to address the backlog.

Ottawa hiking citizenship fees for second time in a year | Toronto Star.

Record number of new citizens welcomed in 2014

Graphic – Changes to Canada’s Citizenship Fees: A Comparative View – Relieving the Burden on Canadian Taxpayers (6 February 2014 press backgrounder).

And the latest article complaining about citizenship processing times:

Want-to-be Canadians frustrated by citizenship processing delays

And the public statement regarding the results of CIC’s analysis of the further increase:

In its analysis, the department said the fee jump may impose additional financial pressures on some people or families.

“While the analysis assumes that there will not be a reduction in overall demand for citizenship as a result of the fee increase, it is acknowledged that some may be required to delay their application as they will need more time to save for the new fee,” the analysis says.

“Overall, in the long-term, this will likely not have a significant impact on the uptake for citizenship.”

No acknowledgement that naturalization rates have dropped from the public – and obsolete – 85.6 percent rate often quoted.

And it would be interesting to see the assumptions behind the analysis that this will not reduce overall demand for citizenship.

Conservatives Hike Citizenship Fees.. Again

Refugees most likely to become Canadian citizens | Indo-Canadian Voice

Under-reported, if at all, by the mainstream media.

The overall naturalization rate, as per the Census and the National Household Survey, is 85 percent and not quite sure of the reasons for the discrepancy (although makes sense citizenship more important for refugees than others):

Refugees are much more likely to become citizens than family class and other immigrants, according to a February 2014 internal report in the Citizenship and Immigration Department.

Lexbase, Canada’s foremost immigration publication and the largest information network for Canadian immigration practitioners, said the report noted: “Citizenship take-up rates differ depending on the admission class (family, economic or refugee) at time of landing. Refugees who arrived between 1991 and 1995 (6 to 10 years in Canada in 2001) recorded a citizenship take-up rate of 85%; those who landed in 1996 or 1997 had a take-up rate of 59% by 2001.“

In contrast, family class immigrants – who tend to be older at the time of landing than other immigrants recorded the lowest citizenship take-up rates: 60% among those who have lived in Canada for 6 to 10 years and 30% among the newly eligible.”

The report noted: “The differences in take-up rates by admission class can be explained in large part by the source countries, the circumstances leading to immigration, and age at admission. For instance, the vast majority of refugees come from developing countries, and are most likely to become naturalized Canadians.

“As well, immigrants who enter as refugees are likely to leave their source country under adverse conditions and hence are more likely to migrate on a permanent basis. Becoming Canadian could be seen as the final step of their migration.”

Refugees most likely to become Canadian citizens | Indo-Canadian Voice.