Come to Canada – if you can pay more

By Gerald V. Paul

Chris Alexander
Chris Alexander

Interested in becoming a Canadian citizen in 2015? The cost to join has just jumped substantially.

As of Jan.1, it’s $530 per adult, up from the formerly new price set last February of $300. Anyone who applied for citizenship prior to Jan. 1 will still pay the old fee.

Based on the government’s immigration projections for 2015, the fee hike could inject an additional $60 million into federal coffers.

The Opposition labeled it unfair to hike fees when people are waiting years to receive their citizenship – at the end of 2013 the backlog was close to 400,000 cases.

However, Citizenship and Immigration claims wait times will fall to under 12 months at some point in the next fiscal year.

Immigration Minister Chris Alexander said faster processing times for citizenship applications in recent months were the result of some of the changes made to the Citizenship Act in 2014.

The government’s position is that would-be citizens should cover more of the cost of processing their applications. The Citizenship and Immigration Department said the higher price will allow it to recoup almost all of the $555 per person in costs.

The new fee structure is in addition to the $100 right-of-citizenship fee that gets returned if a citizenship application is not accepted.

Meanwhile, several immigration changes are coming despite warnings from the Canadian Bar Association about some of the more controversial measures which they said were likely unconstitutional.

Some of the more contentious changes, which have yet to come into effect, include:

  • The minister of immigration can revoke citizenship in “routine cases.” Where security, human or international rights are concerned, the government will leave it to the courts to decide.
  • Dual citizens and permanent residents can have their citizenship revoked if found to have taken up arms with groups engaged in armed conflict against Canada or if they are convicted of terrorism, high treason or spying offences. The RCMP has said it is monitoring 93 “high risk” individuals as potentially violent radicals.
  • Canadian citizenship can be denied to anyone with domestic or foreign criminal charges against them.
Gerald V. Paul
Gerald V. Paul