August 19, 2014 — Scarborough, ON — Today, Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced that Canada has welcomed its 150,000th new citizen of 2014. This is double the number of new citizens compared to the same period in 2013 and thanks to the action taken by the government to reduce backlogs and improve processing times.
Alexander attended a citizenship ceremony in Scarborough and welcomed the country’s newest Canadians. At the event, Alexander highlighted the government’s recent changes to the citizenship system, which have led to improved processing times and an eight percent reduction to the citizenship backlog.
Recent changes to the Citizenship Act, which received Royal Assent on June 19, 2014, will allow for further improvements to the efficiency of the Citizenship program. The new streamlined decision-making process and other changes to the Citizenship Act are expected to bring the processing time for citizenship applications down to under one year, reduce the citizenship application backlog by more than 80 percent and achieve a working inventory of applications in fiscal year 2015-2016.
Ottawa, August 15, 2014 — The Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister for Multiculturalism, issued the following statement on National Acadian Day:
“Today marks National Acadian Day, a day to celebrate the traditions and rich cultural heritage of Acadians. This day was established by the first National Acadian Convention in 1881 to coincide with the Catholic feast day of the Assumption of Mary, the patron saint of the Acadians.
“The Acadians established the first French colony in Canada and have worked hard to keep their identity intact, preserving their language, religion and dynamic culture. Since the beginning of our country’s history, Acadians have made invaluable contributions to our culture and economy, most markedly in the Maritime provinces.
“Among other festivities, today’s celebrations will include the tintamarre, a lively Acadian tradition of marching with noisemakers and other instruments while people don colourful costumes and face paint.
“As the Minister for Multiculturalism, I encourage all Canadians to join me in recognizing the rich history and achievements of the Acadian people. I also extend my very best wishes to everyone celebrating National Acadian Day.”
Ottawa, August 15, 2014 — The Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister for Multiculturalism, issued the following statement to recognize India’s Independence Day:
“Today, people of Indian descent in Canada and around the world will celebrate the 67th anniversary of India’s sovereignty.
“As a national holiday in India, Independence Day is a joyous occasion marked with flag-hoisting ceremonies, parades, kite flying and other cultural events. In Canada, Indo-Canadians across the country will take part in similar celebrations.
“Canada’s Indo-Canadian community is now over one million people across the country. Indo-Canadians have played an important role in building our country and they continue to make vital contributions to our economy and society.
“As Minister for Multiculturalism, I encourage all Canadians to celebrate this important day with our Indo-Canadian friends and colleagues. I wish everyone celebrating a joyous and happy India Independence Day.”
Minister Alexander meets with local business leaders in Kitchener-Waterloo
August 14, 2014 — Kitchener, ON — Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister, Chris Alexander, met with Kitchener-Waterloo-based business incubator Communitech and other business leaders to discuss the Start-up Visa and its potential for attracting entrepreneurs to Canada who have the vision and ability to build innovative companies that can create jobs and long-term prosperity.
The roundtable aimed to build on the momentum of Alexander’s visit to GrowLab Ventures in Vancouver last month, where he welcomed the first two successful applicants under Canada’s Start-up Visa Program. Alexander discussed the importance of the program with a number of local business leaders and encouraged organizations to continue their efforts in identifying exciting start-up opportunities, as well as the dynamic entrepreneurs behind them, with the help of the Start-up Visa.
Launched last year, the Start-up Visa Program brings together Canadian venture capital funds, angel investor groups and business incubators with entrepreneurs from abroad.
The Start-up Visa Program is an important part of the government’s plan to build a fast and flexible economic immigration system, with a primary focus on meeting the new and emerging needs of the Canadian economy.
Ottawa, August 14, 2014 — The Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister for Multiculturalism, issued the following statement to recognize Pakistan Independence Day:
“Pakistan Independence Day commemorates the day on which Pakistan was declared a sovereign nation in 1947.
“Celebrations will be held throughout Pakistan, where citizens will attend flag-raising ceremonies, parades and other cultural events.
“Canada’s Pakistani community will also celebrate this day with similar festivities. I encourage all Canadians to join in the celebrations and to express appreciation for the contributions of Canadians of Pakistani origin.
“As Minister for Multiculturalism, I wish everyone celebrating in Canada and around the world a very happy Pakistan Independence Day.”
Government announces investment of $2 million for settlement services in Windsor
August 14, 2014 — Windsor, ON — Today, Costas Menegakis, Parliamentary Secretary to Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister, attended the grand opening of a Care for Newcomer Children (CNC) centre and announced an investment of more than $2 million for settlement services.
The new CNC centre will provide newcomer parents with child care services while they take advantage of settlement programs.
Located at Windsor’s Unemployed Help Centre, CNC provides onsite child care for newcomers who want to take advantage of long-term settlement services, such as language training or to access child care for brief periods, in order to attend appointments or participate in short-term settlement programming. The settlement services ensure newcomers are able to contribute to the Canadian economy more quickly and achieve success in the labour market.
The Unemployed Help Centre is a non-profit charitable organization that provides various programs and services, such as employment, educational and career counselling in the Windsor and Essex County areas.
In April 2013, the Government of Canada launched CNC as the new standard for child care services provided by government-funded service provider organizations.
CNC is designed to reduce access barriers to settlement services for newcomers who may not have the financial means to provide care for their children while they attend the settlement services that are critical to their integration in Canada.
The Settlement program supports initiatives that help newcomers integrate quickly into our communities and labour market, such as language training, career counselling and orientation information.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada provided funding of more than $2 million to the Unemployed Help Centre to ensure newcomers have the support they need to integrate into Canadian society.
Canada’s previous decision-making model for citizenship applications was a three-step process: an application went from a citizenship officer to a citizenship judge and then went back to a citizenship officer.
This graphic shows changes to Canada’s citizenship decision-making process.
Canada’s previous decision-making model for citizenship applications was a three-step process: an application went from a citizenship officer to a citizenship judge and then went back to a citizenship officer. Under this model, we had a large backlog and more applications than we could process in a timely manner. As of February 2014, the average processing time was 24-36 months and the backlog was more than 320,000 applicants.
Thanks to Economic Action Plan 2013 funding and recent improvements to the citizenship program, Canada welcomed approximately 130,000 new citizens in the first six months of 2014 - more than double the number of new Canadians in the same time period in 2013.
Under the amended Citizenship Act, the decision-making model is a single-step process: applications will be processed by a citizenship officer. Under this model, we will see an even further reduced inventory of applicants and we will have the ability to process all applications in a timely manner. In 2015/16, processing times as expected to be less than one year and the inventory will be reduced to allow for real-time processing.
Graphic - Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Reducing Canada's Citizenship Backlog - Canada News Centre
This graph shows how the changes to the Citizenship Act are expected to eliminate the citizenship applicant backlog in 2015-2016.
This graph shows how the changes to the Citizenship Act are expected to eliminate the citizenship applicant backlog in 2015-2016.
This graphic shows how the recent amendments to the Citizenship Act will shorten citizenship processing times.
Details and Source:
Citizenship Improvements Now In Force
Important changes to strengthen Canadian citizenship and speed up application processing come into force August 1, 2014. The provisions were included in Bill C-24, the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act, which became Canadian law on June 19, 2014.
It is expected that in 2015/16, these changes will bring the processing time for citizenship applications down to less than a year and that the current backlog will be reduced by more than 80 percent.
The various amendments to the Citizenship Act resulting from the passage of Bill C-24 are coming into force in a staggered timeline. Some provisions came into force immediately upon Bill C-24 receiving Royal Assent; others will come into force at a date to be determined by Governor in Council (GIC).
The reforms that took effect on August 1, 2014 include:
New decision-making model
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has significantly improved its ability to process applications by increasing its decision making capacity from approximately 30 citizenship judges to more than 450 decision makers.
Under the new decision-making model - a one-step process as opposed to the former three-step one - citizenship officers now decide all aspects of most citizenship applications. Under the old model, obtaining citizenship involved too much duplication of work. Citizenship officers reviewed the files and prepared them for a citizenship judge, who approved or rejected the application, returned it to the officer, who then granted citizenship on behalf of the Minister or recommended an appeal of the judge’s decision.
On a transitional basis, cases where the officer believes the applicant does not meet the residence requirement will be referred to citizenship judges for decision. Citizenship judges will also remain responsible for the important role of presiding over citizenship ceremonies and administering the oath of citizenship, which is the final step before citizenship is granted.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) now also has stronger authority to define what constitutes a complete application and what evidence applicants must provide. The strengthened ability to require up-front proof that certain requirements are met and to return incomplete applications will significantly improve efficiency and ensure resources are focused on complete applications.
The ability to put a file on hold if there is an ongoing immigration investigation and to declare a file abandoned if an applicant fails to comply with a request for information or attend an interview will result in further efficiency improvements.
Judicial review and appeal process
The amendments introduce a uniform system for judicial review of decisions made under the Citizenship Act. Until now, an appeal of a citizenship judge’s decision would go to the Federal Court but no higher. Now, decisions by citizenship officers, who have new authority to decide certain cases under the Act, can be judicially reviewed and challenged in a higher court.
Under the Citizenship Act, judicial review of citizenship decisions is subject to leave of the Federal Court. The Federal Court decision can then be appealed to the Federal Court of Appeal, where the Federal Court certifies a serious question of general importance. Further appeals are available to the Supreme Court of Canada with leave.
Authority to abandon a citizenship application
The changes provide clear authority to determine that an application has been abandoned if the applicant fails to comply with a request for information or to attend an interview. The abandonment power applies to all applications, at any stage after processing has begun, up until the oath is taken. Under the old system, the Actdid not provide the explicit authority to declare an application abandoned in situations where an applicant failed to appear for the citizenship test or an appointment with an officer. These changes increase processing efficiency and support ongoing efforts to modernize citizenship processing. Previously, keeping abandoned applications open created unnecessary processing delays for active applications.
Other provisions already in force
Provisions from Bill C-24 that came into force on June 19, 2014 (immediately upon Royal Assent) include: fast tracking citizenship applications for members of the Canadian Armed Forces; improving clarity on the First Generation Limit on citizenship for those born abroad; enabling children born abroad to serving Crown servants to pass on citizenship to their children born or adopted abroad; and streamlined decision making for issuing Discretionary Grants under section (5)(4).
Date Modified: 2014-08-01
August 1, 2014 - Ottawa - Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander today announced that recent changes to the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act are already paying big dividends: citizenship backlogs are at their lowest level in more than two years, and applications are now being processed more efficiently than ever.
Ottawa, August 1, 2014 — Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander issued the following statement to recognize Emancipation Day:
“On this day in 1834, slaves of African origin celebrated their newfound freedom with the official abolishment of slavery throughout the British Empire.
“Even before this historic date, Canada was a leader in the fight to end slavery. From the passing of Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe’s anti-slavery legislation in 1793, to the declaration by Upper Canada Attorney General John Robinson in 1819 stating that all slaves residing in Canada were free, Canadians have continually fought for freedom, democracy and the rule of law.
“Today, as we mark this anniversary and reflect on the importance of Emancipation Day, we are reminded that these events are the result of great personal sacrifices of those who will forever be a part of our history.”