Canada is one of the most welcoming Western countries. Immigrants with their sights set on Canada achieve citizenship much more frequently than immigrants to any other nation. Citizenship is necessary for immigrants to be fully involved in Canadian life. It grants the right to vote and hold political offices. Immigrants with citizenship also have a much better chance at finding high-quality employment and enjoy higher income opportunities.

New immigrants seeking a better life in Canada have not been as successful in achieving citizenship over the last 20 years. The citizenship rate for new immigrants increased from 68.6% in 1991 to 75.4% in 1996, but then it dropped off sharply from 75.0% in 1996 to 51.5% in 2016. The drop in citizenship rates became more extreme after 2006.

A study from Statistics Canada identifies several factors contributing to the decline. The study analyzed census data from 1991 to 2016 combined with data from the 2011 National Household Survey.

The target population of the Statistics Canada study included immigrants aged 18 or older that arrived in Canada five to nine years before a census. This criteria makes immigrants eligible for citizenship. The study found that income, level of education, and knowledge of French or English affected immigrants’ ability to achieve citizenship.

The decline in citizenship rates for wealthier immigrant families with yearly incomes above $100,000 only dropped from 69.7% to 66.7% in recent years. Immigrant families in the lowest income bracket with a yearly income below $10,000 experienced a much greater decline in citizenship from 75.0% in 1996 to 51.5% in 2016.

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