Friday, December 26, 2014

Citizenship and Immigration Canada hiking fees for second time in a year

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons. Adrian Wyld
Torstar News Service
Ottawa will raise the citizenship application fee — the second time in less than a year — to $530 per adult, making Canadian citizenship further out of reach for many of marginalized communities.

In February, Citizenship and Immigration Canada already increased the fee from $100 to $300 in order to recover its administrative costs. The upcoming raise means it will now cost applicants five times the money for their citizenship applications within a year. Successful candidates must also pay another $100 rights of citizenship fee to become citizens.

Officials said the fee changes are necessary to pay for the more stringent citizenship process introduced by the government to clear a backlog it created with the “residence questionnaire,” which is used to scrutinize if applicants have physically spent enough time in Canada to qualify for citizenship.

In August, Immigration Minister Chris Alexander also announced a new streamlined decision-making process to cut the backlog, which has since been reduced by 17 per cent. In total, Canada welcomed more than 260,000 new citizens this year.

“With a record number of new Canadians this year, it is clear that our government’s changes to the Citizenship Act are having a real impact,” Alexander said in a statement.

“We are fulfilling our commitment to reducing backlogs and improving processing times.”

Based on citizenship projections from 2014, the fee raise could bring in an additional $60 million to the federal coffers in 2015.

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