After a recent self-analysis, the Canadian immigration department acknowledged several areas of improvement in Canadian citizenship processes. They revealed their findings, conclusions, and recommendations on the citizenship program’s issues in a report released in November. Currently, permanent residents who have been in Canada for three or more years can apply for citizenship. However, they must meet all other eligibility requirements to qualify. For instance, they must pass a preset citizenship test or interview and be very proficient in English, French, or both. The immigration department self-evaluation involved the entire period between 2013 and 2018 as well as the previous years. It was part of an accountability measure required by the Treasury Board, which funds such federal departments as the IRCC.
According to the IRCC report, half of the permanent residents who landed in Canada between 2005 and 2015 had acquired citizenship by December 2018. Additionally, 7 percent had already applied and were in the process of obtaining citizenship. All the same, this is nowhere close to 86.2 percent of the permanent residents who became citizens in 2016.
While many of these permanent residents successfully acquire citizenship status, there are different citizenship rates for different populations. Recently, the immigration department has been recording slower citizenship rates, which means that it is taking much longer for people to acquire Canadian citizenship. As a result, the IRCC recommended the following steps of enhancing the current citizenship process:
Revising the Cost of Canadian Citizenship
The IRRC had increased the citizenship application fee over the evaluation period. Of course, this was not the major culprit impacting the overall immigration uptake. All the same, the immigration department noted that this might have taken a toll on certain groups of immigrants. For instance, refugees and low-income earning families were particularly affected. As of now, the application rates are not flexible and stand at $630 per adult and $100 for minors below 18 years. Although the Liberty Party had promised to alleviate the application fees in the 2019 federal elections, they are yet to fulfill this promise. As such, the IRRC proposes the re-evaluation of the fee structure to ensure equal opportunity and access to Canadian citizenship.
Transparency on the Knowledge and Language Proficiency Barriers
It is inarguable that people dealing with Canada’s socio-economic challenges can hardly acquire citizenship due to the current language requirements. According to the IRRC report, refugees and people with low education and language proficiency are particularly challenged by these requirements. Therefore, the department recommended the waiving of these requirements on compassionate grounds, although they are yet to define the parameters for such cases. Consequently, most waivers are majorly approved on medical grounds. Besides, the waivers are granted upon an applicant’s request, although the process is quite complicated and unclear. The IRRC recorded a meager number of wavers throughout the evaluation process.