Canadian citizenship applications decline after processing fees triple
A sharp fee increase has helped fuel a dramatic drop in the number of immigrants applying to become Canadian citizens, consistent with immigration advocates.
In the first nine months of 2016, there were 56,446 packages filed for citizenship, a lower of nearly 50 percent from the equal length a year earlier, whilst 111,993 applications were submitted.
The figures are protected in a briefing through former Immigration and Citizenship director fashionable Andrew Griffith prepared for the Senate social affairs, technological know-how, and technology committee, which begins hearings this week on bill C-6, a regulation to amend the Citizenship Act.
Griffith, a creator on immigration issues and fellow at the Canadian international Affairs Institute, calls it an “alarming” trend that may be related at once to a steep increase in fees.
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The processing charge jumped from $100 to $530 in 2014-2015, which quantities to a tripled fee tag when the additional $100 “proper of citizenship” rate is added.
“if you’re a professional doing reasonably nicely, you can no longer love it, however, you pay it. it is critical to you,” Griffith told CBC news. “But if you are a suffering immigrant or refugee, suddenly $630 might also turn out to be prohibitive, and specifically if you’re speaking approximately an own family of four or more.”
Inexperienced persons face different charges related to the citizenship system, consisting of language testing, he stated. He recommends reducing the processing fee to $300, abolishing the proper-of-citizenship charge, and considering a waiver for refugees and occasional earnings immigrants.
Monetary and different barriers
Griffith’s quick factors to a broader sample of declining naturalization rates. He warns that a growing a part of the populace might not completely combine through becoming residents due to monetary or different limitations and that could lead to marginalization.
“We’ve continually prided ourselves where we’ve got a version where we do not just encourage immigration, however, we encourage immigrants to end up citizens in order that they are completely part of society. They could participate in political discussions, they could vote and do all of the matters which are part of it,” he said.
Invoice C-6 reverses reforms added in by using the previous Conservative government and takes steps to streamline and give a boost to the integrity of the citizenship technique. The ones encompass reducing the time permanent citizens should live in Canada to become eligible for citizenship, counting time for paintings or examine in residency requirements, and reducing the language proficiency necessities for younger and older immigrants.
But the authority does now not appear prepared to opposite the price hike brought in by the Conservatives.
Bernie Derible, a spokesman for Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen, stated citizenship fees in Canada are “appreciably less” than different comparable nations which include the U.K., Australia, and New Zealand. Throughout the cross-country consultations last summer, there was little discussion or concern raised about the fee, he added.
Nancy Caron, a spokesperson for Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada, said the prolonged residency requirement affected the number of programs and that fluctuations in numbers normally appear round adjustments to citizenship necessities.
When a brand new requirement is announced, there can be a surge of programs in advance of the new requirement coming into pressure and a corresponding decline afterward, she said.
Expenses were accelerated to reflect increasing prices to technique demands.
“We keep monitoring the quantity of citizenship applications received and viable adjustments may be explored as vital,” she stated in an electronic mail.
Dory Jade, CEO of the Canadian affiliation of professional Immigration specialists, said he has heard from masses of customers who’re delaying citizenship due to the fact they cannot manage to pay for the charges.
Make manner ‘on hand and smooth’
“If we want to convey immigrants, especially underneath Liberal authorities which belief in kingdom builders, making it available and smooth to grow to be individuals of your society is a big, big difficulty,” he stated.
Jade has met with officers from Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada to propose a manner to cope with the financial burden.
He stated he was informed by means of officers that the present day prices are not value-recovery; this means that they’re nevertheless financed in part via the tax base regardless of the increase. however, he suggested the authorities ought to ease the fee barrier through adopting a tax-like method based on earnings, growing a loan program, or capping the whole price for an own family.
Stephen Green, a Toronto-based totally immigration legal professional, stated he has not heard of the fee being a sizable factor in search of citizenship. He said lots of his company’s clients who don’t currently qualify underneath the prevailing regulation are anxiously looking forward to C-6 to emerge as the regulation which will apply for citizenship.
The Senate social affairs committee hearings could be held Wednesday and Thursday this week, with a number of immigration and refugee attorneys and academics scheduled to testify.