New Canadian citizens in March almost double compared to a year ago

Chris AlexanderABOUT 33,700 people from 199 countries became Canadian citizens at citizenship ceremonies held across Canada in March 2014. This is almost twice as many compared to March 2013 when 17,089 people were granted citizenship across Canada.

Canada’s new citizens were welcomed at 312 citizenship ceremonies held across the country, from college campuses to Citizenship and Immigration Canada offices, to special ceremonies at railway stations and designated heritage sites.

These high numbers demonstrate that changes and improvements in effect over the past year have already made the system more efficient and resulted in a decreased backlog, helping more people realize their dream of becoming Canadian sooner. The government’s proposed changes in Bill C-24, the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act, will further reduce wait times by streamlining the decision-making process for citizenship. It is expected that these changes will bring the average processing time for citizenship applications down to under one year and that the current backlog will be reduced by more than 80 percent by 2015-2016.

* So far in 2014, Canada has welcomed more than 75,900 new citizens at 759 ceremonies across Canada. Comparatively, in the first three months of 2013, Canada welcomed 35,320 new Canadians.

* In 2013, 128,936 people were granted Canadian citizenship ¾an average of 10,745 each month.

* Since 2006, Canada has enjoyed the highest sustained levels of immigration in Canadian history at an average of 257,000 newcomers each year. Accordingly, the demand for citizenship has increased by 30 percent.

* Canada has the highest rate of naturalization in the world¾85 per cent of eligible permanent residents become citizens. Citizenship and Immigration Canada received 333,860 citizenship applications in 2013, the highest volume ever.

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander said: “By improving the efficiency of the citizenship program and launching the Blueprint for Citizenship Improvements, our government is working to ensure the timely processing of citizenship applications so that deserving applicants can become Canadians more quickly. The high number of new citizens who joined the Canadian family so far this year shows that our changes are working. Our government would like to welcome our newest citizens to the Canadian family.”