Canada received half as many asylum claims in the first six months of 2013 than the same time span in 2012. This drop has been attributed to the government’s expedited processing rules for citizens of designated ‘safe’ countries.

In total, Canada received 4,558 asylum claims in the first half of 2013, as compared to 10,375 in 2012. Applications from Hungary, which in the past produced the largest number of asylum claimants, dropped to just 104. In the same time period last year, claims from the country numbered 1,389.

Canada’s list of safe countries includes 37 nations. Citizens of these countries who claim asylum in Canada will receive an immigration hearing within 30-45 days of arrival in Canada. Denoting certain countries as ‘safe’ ensures that only genuine claimants will receive permanent residency, and that those who are not eligible will swiftly leave the country, saving Canadian taxpayers money. Countries are considered ‘safe’ if they are democracies with robust institutions in place to protect persecuted peoples, amongst other factors.

Most asylum claims are ultimately found to be inadequate. Of the claims processed this year, only 16 percent were accepted.

To read more about the recent changes made to the asylum process, please click here.