Canadian Citizenship Applicants Face Long Delays, Reforms Underway

CIC News
Published: June 12, 2013

According to recent statistics, individuals who are eligible for Canadian citizenship today may not become citizens in time to vote in the 2015 federal election. Delays in application processing, which range from 21 to 29 months, have left over 24,000 individuals waiting to take the final step in their journey to becoming Canadian.

Since 2006, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) says that an increase in Canadian permanent residents has led to a 30% increase in demand for Canadian citizenship. Without sufficient resources to process this growing demand, significant backlogs have formed. While the government is taking steps to ensure that processing times are reduced, change has been slow for those already waiting in the queue.

In order to be eligible for Canadian citizenship, Canadian permanent residents must meet the following requirements:

  1. Be 18 years or older
    • The parent(s) or legal guardian(s) of a child may apply for citizenship on their behalf
  2. Must have permanent resident status in Canada
    • This status must not be ‘in doubt’, meaning no immigration investigations should be pending
  3. Must live in Canada for 3 of the last 4 years
  4. Must have knowledge of English or French
    • Proof of proficiency must be provided
  5. Must pass a citizenship test
  6. Cannot be prohibited from obtaining citizenship due to criminal activity

Addressing the Backlog

To address the backlog of citizenship applications, the Government of Canada announced in its 2013 Economic Action Plan that it is setting aside $44 million over the next two years to improve citizenship processing. The Immigration Minister has also appointed 8 new citizenship judges, which will help speed up the wait time for applicants whose cases must be determined by a citizenship hearing.

“The government of Canada remains committed to maintaining Canada’s tradition of high numbers of permanent residents taking up full citizenship,” said Immigration Minister Jason Kenney. “We know that newcomers look forward to acquiring their Canadian citizenship and we are committed o helping qualified applicants acquire this privilege in a timely manner.”

To further cut down on backlogs, the government has dramatically scaled up citizenship fraud investigations. As of September, around 11,000 individuals were being investigated to determine whether they were lying to obtain citizenship or maintain permanent resident status. A further 3,100 are in the process of having their citizenship revoked and 5,000 have been flagged for further inspection.

New Rules for Applicants

In addition to eliminating the backlog, CIC has instituted some new rules for applicants. Most recently, on June 3rd 2013, it announced that individuals who fail the citizenship test would be given a second chance to pass. Previously, test takers who failed this step were required to wait months until a citizenship judge ruled as to whether or not they could become citizens.

Another rule change was instituted in September 2012. Since that time, applicants are now required to submit proof of language proficiency. While proficiency in one (or both) of Canada’s official languages has always been required, in the past it was assessed subjectively by officers and by an applicant’s score on the citizenship test.

“After spending so much time re-working Canadian permanent residency programs, a serious look at the citizenship application process was long overdue,” said Attorney David Cohen. “For many Canadian newcomers, the ultimate goal of immigration is securing citizenship for themselves and their families. At the end of the day, speeding up this process will help families achieve their goals faster, and give more Canadians a say in their country by being allowed to vote and fully participate in civil life.”

To learn more about Canadian citizenship, please click here.

Share this article
Share your voice
Did you find this article helpful?
Thank you for your feedback.
Subscribe to our newsletter
Did you find this article helpful?
Please provide a response
Thank you for your helpful feedback
Please contact us if you would like to share additional feedback, have a question, or would like Canadian immigration assistance.
  • Do you need Canadian immigration assistance? Contact the Contact Cohen Immigration Law firm by completing our form
  • Send us your feedback or your non-legal assistance questions by emailing us at
Top Stories
New data suggests growing demand for temporary foreign workers in several Canadian industries
Ontario, British Columbia, Manitoba, and PEI nominate newcomers for provincial immigration
IRCC’s update on its plan to attract global talent
Join our free newsletter. Get Canada's top immigration stories delivered to your inbox.
More in Canada
IRCC’s update on its plan to attract global talent
Sunlight on an airplane wing
Study finds more newcomers are considering moving to escape housing costs
Typical homes in Canada
How to take a break from your studies and maintain eligibility for a work permit
A student at the airport looking at flight times.
Two Canadian cities among the most livable in the world, as Toronto drops out of the top 10
A view of the sunset in Calgary at a lake.
Link copied to clipboard