Only 26% of Canadian immigrants acquired Canadian Citizenship

A decreasing number of immigrants are wanting to become Canadian citizens.

A decreasing number of immigrants are wanting to become Canadian citizens.

The number of immigrants wanting to become citizens in Canada have dropped to a whopping 26 percent from a previous 79 percent from the period 2000 and 2008, former citizenship director-general Andrew Griffith said. He attributed the decline to government’s recent rules and fees regarding citizenship.

“These changes have made it harder and prohibitive for some to acquire citizenship, turning Canada into a country where an increasing percentage of immigrants are likely to remain non-citizens, without the ability to engage in the Canadian political process,” Griffith said, noting that in the past, citizenship was viewed as a stepping stone to immigrant integration. “So it must be done earlier on.”

In 2008, only 26 percent of permanent residents who settled in Canada acquired Canadian citizenship. A year before it was 44 percent, and in the year 2000, it was 79 percent.


The current residency rules say that you must be a resident in Canada for at least three out of four year. Come this June, that will be changed to four out of six years and they will also raise the age of exemption from language and citizenship tests to 65, from 55.

Regulations have become stringent since 2010. Among the changes include a citizenship test that measures applicants’ knowledge of Canadian history, culture and values. The required score to pass is 75 percent, from the previous 60 percent. Applicants must pass 15 out of 20 multiple choice questions.

The new passing rate, Griffith said, immediately impacted the citizenship numbers. Observing the passing rates of various communities 3 years before and after the new citizenship test was implemented, he said the immigrants from the Caribbean saw their pass rate go down by almost 20 per cent, while those from the South Asian, Southern and East African communities all experienced a decline of more than 15 per cent.

The new citizenship test, Citizenship and Immigration Canada spokesperson Johanne Nadeau said, was just the same for all applicants. The test is neither too easy nor too difficult. What’s just needed is that “new Canadians have a comprehensive understanding of Canada’s history, identity and values.”

The matter on application fees is also another issue deterring immigrants to pursue Canadian citizenship. In 2014, the government increased the fees from $100 per adult, to $300 in February and $530 in December to become citizens. This does not include the $100 “Right of Citizenship” fee successful candidates must also pay to become citizens. “When you make it more difficult for some communities to become citizens, you are going to create issues with their engagement, attachment and identity of Canada,” Griffith said.

“I understand the rationale behind these government changes,” said Griffith, who worked for the government as the reforms were developed and rolled out, and retired in 2013.

“But I’m on the side of inclusion rather than exclusion. We need to make sure those who apply for citizenship take it seriously, but we don’t want to inadvertently create excessive barriers and shift the relationship of some of the communities with the country.”

Express Entry Update: First non-LMIA/LMO, non-PNP Nomination Invitations have been Released


Close to three months after the new Express Entry system started, and after four invitations, the first set of instructions have been released, where some of the invitees did not have LMIA/LMO’s or PNP nominations.

On March 20th, 2015, Express Entry system, round #5 was released. The number of invitees totalled 1620. The minimum score of those invited is 481.

This is great news for the majority of applicants in the Express Entry pool as many have started to feel discouraged by the high number of points in the previous four invitations.

What do the Experts think?

As licensed immigration consultant Alex Khadempour points out, there is no need to panic: “This is just the start. Immigration Canada did not want to open the floodgates by inviting a high number of people at the beginning. This is why only those with PNP nominations or LMOs/LIMAs were invited at first to make sure the system works. You will now see the minimum score start to go down.”

Immigration Canada accepts over 160,000 applicants a year under the economic programs such as Federal Skilled Worker, Canadian Experience Class, Federal Skilled Trades and some PNP programs. Only a small fraction of these applicants have LMOs/LMIAs or PNP nominations.

Tips for Applicants

Alex Khadempour adds: “Calculated patience is always necessary when it comes to dealing with immigration, especially when a new program or system is launched. You should keep your eyes on the minimum scores and see how close you are. At the same time, if there is an opportunity for you to receive a provincial nomination or an LMIA, which guarantee that you will be selected and invited, you should take advantage of that opportunity.It’s also very important to approach this process with caution and precision. One tiny mistake in one of the steps can ruin your chances in the future.”

Be sure to go over all the guidelines, regulations and seek professional help, if necessary, to make sure you don’t make any errors in how you submit your information and approach the multi-step application process.