Significant increase in cost under Harper’s Conservatives recognized as main reason
According to the Toronto Star, there’s been a significant decrease in the number of immigrant citizenship applications. This is coupled with a record number of Canadian citizens who are being stripped of their citizenship as a result of the rule surrounding the controversial Bill C-24. We touched on this a bit because of the sticky and ironic situation that’s been created for the Minister of Democratic Institutions, Maryam Monsef.
According to the latest data from the Immigration Department, only 56,446 new citizenship applications were received in the first nine months of last year, a sharp decline from the 111,993 during the same period in 2015. The number of new citizens approved also dropped by 48 per cent from 198,119 to 111,435 over the same period. The tightened language proficiency and longer residency requirements are a component of the issue, but the steep increase in the fee is considered the primary driver.
The processing fee was raised from $100 to $300 in February 2015 and again to $530 before the end of the year. There is also an additional $100 right-of-citizenship fee required once the application is approved. The total cost of $630 has reduced the number of applications down to a little over a quarter of (and less than half) what they have historically been. Generally, Canada receives about 200,000 citizenship applications each year.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada data also showed 236 Canadians were stripped of their citizenship since the Liberal government came into power in November 2015 — more than doubling the 10-year total of 115 under the Conservative government.
IRCC also indicated the increase of revocations was directly related to legislation introduced by Harper’s Conservatives in May 2015. The newly minted change in law transferred the power for revocation from the Governor in Council to the immigration minister. The immigration minister simply delegates the responsibility to department staff. We touched on this in a previous blog post from September of last year. Currently, under the law and as a result of that delegation by the immigration minister, a single government official acts as investigator, prosecutor and decision-maker. A person who receives a notice of citizenship revocation has no right to a hearing or an appeal. They are figuratively at the mercy of the official presiding over the case, and are not entitled to any recourse whatsoever. When John McCallum, the former Immigration Minister was in opposition, he cited the law as “dictatorial” and promised to amend it to create an appeal process for those affected, however, the majority Liberals have continued to enforce the law.
***These stats are only related to immigrant citizenship applications, not citizenship applications for dual citizens.