Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada announced the appointment of nine new judges and the re-appointment of one judge to a new term on May 17.
Prior to Thursday’s appointments, Canada only had five citizenship judges.
“The appointments will ensure operations needs are able to met across the country,” IRCC spokesperson Carl Beauchamp told CIC News in an email.
In October 2017, new citizenship rules took effect that reduced the number of residency years an individual had to accumulate before he or she could apply for Canadian citizenship from four years out of six to three years of five.
The changes also allow permanent residents who spent time in Canada as a foreign worker, international student, or protected person before transitioning to permanent residence to count each day spent in Canada on temporary status as half a day of residency, up to a maximum of 365 days.
The government also removed the requirement that applicants had to be physically present in Canada for 183 days or more in four out of the six years preceding their application.
Changes result in application surge
The week after the new rules were introduced, CBC News said applications jumped from a weekly average of 3,653 to 17,500.
Beauchamp said the purpose of the new hires is to ensure applicants “have access to citizenship as quickly as possible.”
Citizenship judges make decisions on some citizenship applications, preside over citizenship ceremonies and administer the oath of citizenship to new citizens.
More than 105,000 new Canadians were administered the oath at an estimated 1,400 citizenship ceremonies in 2017, according to IRCC.
Citizenship judges are appointed by the Governor in Council on the recommendation of Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship. New appointees are selected through an open, transparent and merit-based process, IRCC says.
“Candidates for citizenship judge appointments are evaluated against the skills required by the position: judgment/analytical thinking; decision-making; effective communication; cross-cultural sensitivity; and community standing,” IRCC said in a news release.
The newly appointed judges represent diverse professional backgrounds and include lawyers, a career public servant, communications professionals, a chartered accountant, and members of Canada’s armed forces.
The 14 judges are located in Halifax, Montreal, the Greater Toronto Area, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Vancouver and Surrey, British Columbia.
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