Steep rise in Citizenship fees in Canada deters many permanent residents to defer taking their Canadian Citizenship
The number of Many Permanent residents applying for citizenship has reduced to 40% as they are not able to afford the increased fee for citizenship; Thus they are forced to defer the accompanying benefits are Voting rights, Health Care benefits etc
In first half of this year, i.e. January to June 2016, only about 35000 applications for citizenship have been received in Canada from permanent residents eligible to apply for citizenship.
This is attributed to steep rise in the citizenship fee of $530 to $100 per adult earlier about 2 years back. While the decline in the number of applicants was predicted even at the time of fee revision, this steep decline surpasses all estimates.
Does this Decline show the growing lower middle class among immigrants who find this unaffordable? Yes, the decline in number of applicants for second year in a row is not a isolated trend. The increase in fees though substantial is onetime expense that in turn allows immigrants get citizenship rights and the accompanying benefits. The reduced numbers of persons coming forward for citizenship shows the growing number of people not able to make enough money to afford this fee.
What Permanent Residents are foregoing by not becoming citizens? Once a permanent resident is granted citizenship, he is entitled to many benefits which include-
1. Full access to Social benefits including health care coverage;
2. Citizens of Canada can live, work or study anywhere in Canada unlike in few cases where there are restrictions on Permanent Residents regarding the province they have to stay;
3. Vote and elect the Government they like; thus adding to their participation in the society
4. Apply for Canadian Passport. Canadian passport holders are entitled Visa on arrival facility in about 180 countries in the world
5. Full protection under the Canadian law. In case they land into any problem in any country in the world, they can seek help of Canadian embassy
6. Seeking some jobs which require security clearance
7. Enter or leave Canada freely
Impact on Society- Though the Government tried to justify the hefty increase in fee, the impact of reduced numbers coming forward for citizenship on Canadian Society cannot be ignored. Unless such residents become citizens, their integration and therefore, the participation in the society remain incomplete. This would also make the success of the Canadian model of integration difficult.
Government may do well to reconsider the fees. It may also consider waiving the fees in some exceptional cases. In the coming times, as per stated policies of the Government more temporary resident workers are likely to be absorbed as PR and thus, leading to their citizenship, such class of people who are otherwise entitled to become citizens, would only grow