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Children Applying for Canadian Citizenship Now Have Adult Sized Fee

Posted Thursday, August 31st, 2017 at 2:27 pm

The Legal Barrier Was Removed and Replaced with A Financial One

Back in April, we touched on Senator Victor Oh’s amendment to Bill C6 that enabled minors to apply for Canadian citizenship separately from their parents. Now that it’s a reality, Ottawa is treating minors like adults when it comes to charging them for their citizenship applications, too. The fee was and continues to be $100 for minors who apply for citizenship together with their parents. If they’re not applying with their parents, those under age 18 must pay the same fee as adults — $530.

According to the Canada Border Services Agency, refugee claims filed for minors 17 years old or younger have increased steadily in recent years. The number of youth asylum seekers jumped from 2,011 in 2015 to 3,400 in 2016, representing a 50% increase. Prior to Senator Oh’s amendment, the only way that a Canadian resident under 18 can apply for citizenship on their own was on “compassionate” grounds.

When the Liberal government tabled the motion to move forward with the Senate-amended citizenship bill that was passed in June, Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen made mention this specific change for minors.

“The government . . . supports the amendment to make it easier for children to obtain citizenship without a Canadian parent and has made changes to clarify who can apply for citizenship on behalf of the child,” – Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen

Here’ the thing: Children applying for Canadian citizenship on their own are probably unaccompanied minors who come to Canada alone for asylum or are estranged from their family. The likelihood of them being able to afford a $530 processing fee is low. If the intent was to make it easier for minors to become citizens independently, then it fails.

Conservative Senator Victor Oh said his motion did not include fee specifics at the time because he was told setting processing fees did not require legislative changes and fell within the immigration minister’s discretion. He told the Toronto Star that he was told it was a regulatory amendment that was decided on by the Immigration Minister. He claimed he sent a letter to Minister Hussen in early July asking him to lower the fee to no more than $100, but he has yet to hear back.

Immigration officials said the $530 application fee was put in place to reflect the increasing cost of processing.

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