C-6: My brief to the Senate on the declining naturalization rate
2017/01/23 Leave a comment
For those interested, my full brief to the Senate’s Social Affairs, Science and Technology (SOCI) that will be reviewing Bill C-6 changes to the Citizenship Act can be found here: C-6 Senate Hearings: Expected Impact on the Naturalization Rate.
The summary is below:
- Bill C-6 appropriately maintains and strengthens the existing integrity and business process measures introduced in the 2014 major rewrite of the Citizenship Act (C-24).
- Beyond the specific changes proposed in Bill C-6, there is a broader issue of fewer immigrants applying for citizenship, primarily a result of the steep increase in the processing fee (from $100 to $530 in 2014-15).
- Five non-legislative recommendations are proposed to ensure that all immigrants have a more equitable opportunity to become citizens. One legislative recommendation is proposed to ensure a clear and transparent process for future citizenship fee changes:
- Reduce the current citizenship processing fee of $530 to $300, abolish the right of citizenship fee of $100, with consideration for a partial waiver for refugees and low income immigrants;
- Review the impact of the additional cost of language competency pre-assessment (about $200) and develop lower-cost alternatives;
- Ensure that any revisions to the citizenship study guide, Discover Canada, and related materials are written in plain language as close to the level required (CLB-4), and preferably focus-group tested;
- Consider dedicated citizenship preparation classes targeted towards those groups that appear to be having difficulty passing the test; and,
- Set a meaningful naturalization benchmark rate that 75 percent of immigrants will take up citizenship within a six- to eight-year period.
- Repeal the exemption to the User Fees Act with respect to the setting of citizenship fees to ensure full public review and consultation for future changes.