The percentage of newcomers who are becoming Canadian citizens is decreasing. The citizenship rate among recent immigrants was over 75% in 1996 but had declined to 60% by 2016, according to a new study released by Statistics Canada. Cost and the citizenship test were cited as reasons for citizenship declining:
- The processing fee for citizenship was increased to $630 from $200
- Complex language is used in a new citizenship study guide that was released about 10 years ago
Families may have a difficult time paying the increased fees and people with lower levels of education can have a harder time passing the citizenship exam, said Andrew Griffith, a former director-general with IRCC:
"If you look at a family of four, you're talking about $1,500 or so. That's a significant burden...You're creating an additional barrier that doesn't need to be there."
In Canada's October 2019 election, Liberals were re-elected to a minority government on a platform that includes eliminating the application fee altogether. In October 2017 Canadian Bill C-6, an amendment to Canada’s Citizenship Act became law and simplified and streamlined the process for immigrants to become Canadian citizens.
Statistics Canada also reported that the citizenship rate for East Asians - in particular, Chinese immigrants - was 83% in 1996 but had declined to 45% by 2016.
Benefits of Citizenship Versus Permanent Residency
Canada Permanent Residents who do not become citizens are not entitled to the same rights and privileges as citizens.
- Penalties for committing a crime in Canada for citizens are different from permanent residents and temporary residents - including permanent deportation from Canada
- Citizenship gives new Canadians the ability to enter or leave Canada freely
- A Canadian passport
- Run for federal office
- Hold jobs that require a high-level security clearance
- The right to vote in Canadian elections is available to citizens but not permanent residents