Citizenship Takes a Back Seat

November 27th, 2013

Canada, like most developed countries competes for talented would-be immigrants. Part of what makes Canada desirable is the clear path it offers to citizenship and a Canadian passport. The law stipulates that after residing in Canada for three years, the holder of a permanent resident visa may apply for Canadian citizenship. That much is clear, at least for now.

Less apparent is the length of time required for Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to process a citizenship application. Currently, routine cases move through the system in 25 months and more complicated cases take about 35 months to process. The reason for the lengthy delay is easy to explain. In the last five years the intake of citizenship applications has exceeded the output of applications by a healthy margin. In 2012 alone, input exceeded output by more than 150,000 and at the end of that year there existed a total inventory of 367,375 pending applications.

This state of affairs is nothing new for CIC. A few years back CIC was faced with a significant backlog of permanent resident applications under the Skilled Worker category. The Minister of Immigration solved that problem by terminating the applications of 280,000 individuals. Fortunately for permanent residents, the law and political considerations protect them from a similar fate.

Rumor has it that the government intends to reduce the inventory of citizenship applications and the accompanying lengthy processing delays by adding one more year to qualify for citizenship. By extending the residency requirement to four years from the current three years, CIC will acquire one year to output applications without any intake of fresh applications. In theory, this would work but politically it could be costly, especially in the immigrant rich suburbs of southern Ontario, which are perceived to be an important battleground in the next Federal election.

There is another solution. The government could leave the three year residency requirement in place and fund an adequate workforce to process the backlog and intake of new applications in a timely manner. In my opinion, that’s what should be done.

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11 Responses to “Citizenship Takes a Back Seat”

  • On November 28th, 2013, Anonymous said ...

    I feel it is criminal and infringement of a resident’s human rights to freedom on movement and fair treatment. CIC is not only taking long to decide on cases, it is not responsive and even for renewal of Permanent Resident cards it does not care for professionals who meet physical presence requirement of 2 years in a period of 5 years, just because they have to travel a lot to make good money and bring millions into Canadian economy, pay taxes,and find at the end of the day that a bureaucrat sitting in a remote corner decides to refer a case to investigation wing in Hamilton or Ottawa. Is there any legal recourse for loss of income, the anguish of sitting at home and getting the feeling of unwanted resident, and lost of valuable years of one’s life? Is it not criminal for department to give an answer that your application can take 36 months to decide? CIC expects a professional to sit as a lame duck for 36 months? Is it not breach of his right to free movement, if he meets requirments but has to wait for 36 months before he/she can travel freely? What happens if she loses a loved ones and misses funeral?What happens if one misses all family get togethers, in addition to income loss and lost years?
    Anybody out there can advise how to take federal government to court to treat residents fair, respectfully and impose a reasonable time frame within which they shall be forced to issue PR card, decide on citizenship?

  • On November 28th, 2013, Princess Amadi. said ...

    That is ridiculous. Thank you David for bringing up a crucial issue such as this. It is sad to hear that those qualified for citizenship are made to wait for 36 months before receiving it. It’s a shame because Canada is looking for talents and skills that will move the Country forward to a position equal ir above its counterparts. With this development investors, skilled and talented men and women may have to refocus their attention to other Countries. Those of us with the interest of coming in for studies may redirect our attention to other Countries as well. This will in turn cost the Government a great loss. It has to reconsider and make a way to take care of it’s mess. After all nobody is above the law, even the Government.

  • On November 28th, 2013, Anonymous X said ...

    Very well put! I am myself a professional and used to travel 5-10 times a year on international business trips before immigrating to Canada. Now I feel that I am on “House Arrest” in Canada. Recently I have received an RQ, instead of my Citizenship test appointment, since I have traveled outside Canada twice in 5 years; this RQ will introduce further delays and I am spending the best productive years of my life in “Canadian House Arrest”

  • On November 28th, 2013, Anonymous Y said ...

    > by adding one more year to qualify for citizenship
    It’s absolutely wrong way. Have a backlog? Ok, hire more people, you can increase the price for citizenship application, if you want. But make sure that every application, with or without RQ, is processed within 12 months.
    The cap of new citizens per year (unlike the cap for PR’s) in meaningless. Why should it exist?

  • On November 29th, 2013, Anonymous said ...

    As a Canadian citizen living abroad, I am appalled with the whole Canadian citizenship deal creating new Canadians in a period of 3 years? What is the meaning of being a Canadian? Canada should look to countries like Germany which make new immigrants wait 10 years before having a right to a passport. I have met so many so called Canadians abroad and they have no sense of the meaning of being Canadian.

  • On December 13th, 2013, Anonymous said ...

    I’m not Canadian but will do all what is required long as I made up my mind to be canadian. Those complaining simply want to take advantage and steal Canadian citizenship so they can have their way all over the world. CiC pls impose more strict rules so we know those of us who really want to be Canadians.

  • On December 21st, 2013, Marion Vermeersch said ...

    I think the problems with Citizenship and Immigration are much bigger than most people realize. In addition to the huge backlog of applications, there are many of this (over 37,000), I understand, who are Lost Canadians on the quest to have our citizenship restored. CIC will not now recognize our Landing Cards, which were all we got prior to 1947,as evidence of legal entry, making it impossible to even have a PR card renewed. Of course, the PR card is required for travel and obtaining services such as health benefits. Either the Act needs a rewrite or we need a different interpretation of various parts of it by the current government. Added to that problem, there probably is a great shortage of knowledgeable staff to do the work in CIC,
    Thank y ou for your work and concern for citizenship.

  • On January 5th, 2014, Anonymous said ...

    Present govt. of Canada is obviously an inefficient and racial in nature which ultimately will weaken the country in many ways.

  • On February 24th, 2014, ajwar raja said ...

    I think CIC is doing good to strength citizenship, by introducing new rules. They are not difficult and will help in adapting and being used to Canadian way of life. Language skills should also be a real criteria.
    CIC should stop selling Canadian immigration through investment categories, this has increased housing cost beyond the reach of an ordinary Canadian.

  • On March 7th, 2014, Anonymous said ...

    I personally agree with you. There are many people who have fulfilled their 3 years (out of 4) and ready to submit their application. Now this 4 year out of 6 years comes as a big shock, as these people we counting on this for the past 4 years. Even if the government was to implement this rule, it should have put a due date, not from today. For example it should declare that from Jan.2018 the eligibility for Citizenship application is 4 out of 6 years. It might be better if you could gather signs from PR holders to stop this law from passing. An on-line survey might work.

  • On April 19th, 2014, Anonymous said ...

    as much as waiting 4 years rather than 3 for citizenship is hard and a lot of people do not agree with it. I would much prefer they do this and lower the processing times for permanent residence, especially for the Family class. I am a Canadian citizen married to a non Canadian resident, and the wait time is just pathetic and absurd. yes it does affect the non canadian resident but it affects Canadian citizen’s like myself and my son more! Canadians with family members stuck abroad are the one’s who suffer the most.

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