Posted on - Oct 22, 2013

By Catherine Sas, Q.C.

Catherine Sas Q.C.

Canada’s Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Chris Alexander issued a news release this Monday entitled “Celebrating Citizenship week, Putting Canada First”. Taking a look at processing times for citizenship applications, the Minister really doesn’t have much to celebrate. The current citizenship processing time for a “routine application” is taking 25 months! 25 months! And non-routine cases are listed as taking 35 months but in reality are taking much longer. Applicants for a citizenship certificate for persons who are already citizens but require proof of their citizenship are facing waiting times of 6 – 18 months. Canada’s processing times for citizenship applicants are deplorable and far from cause for celebration.

The path to citizenship is a long one. First an individual must become a permanent resident of Canada which often takes several years to process. In order to be eligible for citizenship a person must then reside in Canada for three years within a four year window after they have become a permanent resident. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) requires people to demonstrate that they have physically been present in Canada for a minimum of 1095 days within the past four years. For straightforward or “routine” applications where people can clearly demonstrate that they have met this requirement, the processing of their application is taking two years or more. This means that in reality, a permanent resident who wants to become a citizen has a waiting time of five years before they will be able to obtain their Canadian passport.

For applicants who don’t quite meet the 1095 residency requirement or who fail the citizenship test they will be scheduled to have an interview with a citizenship judge. These appointments are also backlogged for several years. Not months, but years.

In his press release celebrating Citizenship Week, Minister Alexander states as follows:

“Citizenship week calls attention to the rights, privileges and responsibilities we have as citizens of this great country…Citizenship is a pledge of mutual responsibility and a shared commitment to values rooted in our history.”

Pretty profound words. For those individuals who commit to living and working in Canada the process for citizenship needs to be timely. The Minister has a responsibility to Canadian citizens and permanent residents to provide a reasonable path to Canadian citizenship. To truly celebrate citizenship week Minister Alexander needs to deliver speedier processing times for citizenship applications.

Catherine Sas, Q.C. is a Vancouver immigration lawyer at Sas & Ing Immigration Law Centre in Vancouver, BC Canada. Catherine has been practicing law for over 25 years, and has been voted Vancouver’s Best Immigration Lawyer by the Georgia Straight newspaper for 6 consecutive years.

To learn more about immigrating to Canada, becoming a permanent Canadian resident or bringing your family to Canada, email Catherine Sas or call her at 1-604-689-5444.

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