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Canada welcomes new citizens


More than 2,200 new citizens from 138 countries were welcomed at 45 citizenship ceremonies across the country recently.

In his home town of Ajax, Ontario, Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister, Chris Alexander, was proud to welcome new Canadians at one of the many citizenship ceremonies.

Alexander reiterated how Canada is working to make the citizenship program more efficient, subsequently allowing more people to achieve their dream of becoming a Canadian citizen faster, and with all the exceptional privileges and responsibilities that come with being a citizen.

He recognized the hard work, commitment and sacrifices of Canadians who have built and continue to shape a nation staunchly committed to democracy, prosperity and lawful peace.

Recent changes to the Citizenship Act will further reduce citizenship processing times by streamlining the decision-making process. 

Citizenship backlogs are at their lowest level in more than two years, and applications are now being processed more efficiently than ever. 

These changes will bring the average processing time for citizenship applications down to under one year, with the current backlog reduced by more than 80 per cent by the end of 2015-2016. 

For new Canadians, the citizenship ceremony marks their formal entry into the Canadian family.

 A citizenship ceremony is a unique part of Canadian civic life. It is one of the formal occasions when we reflect on the rights, responsibilities and exceptional privilege of being a Canadian citizen.

“On behalf of the government, I would like to congratulate our newest citizens and welcome them to the Canadian family on this special day,” said Alexander. 

“It is a day to reflect upon what it means to be Canadian and to reaffirm our commitment to upholding Canadian values, which have their roots in democracy, freedom, human rights and the rule of law. It is a day to recognize both the rights and responsibilities of each and every Canadian.”

The overhaul of the Citizenship Act saw the citizenship decision-making process move from three steps to one. 

This change and others in the Act are designed to improve program integrity and safeguard the value of Canadian citizenship.

The number of decision makers has also increased which will ensure that citizenship applications are processed more quickly and backlogs are reduced.

In addition to the new streamlined decision making model, the government has implemented a range of legislative amendments to further strengthen Canada’s citizenship program. 

These amendments relate to authorities to refuse incomplete applications and a uniform system for judicial review of citizenship decisions are also now in effect.

These changes were part of Bill C-24, the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act, which received Royal Assent in June this year. 

These improvements are in addition to funding in Economic Action Plan 2013 of an additional $44 million over two years to the citizenship program to ensure the timely processing of applications. 

A few quick facts: 

Canada has the highest rate of naturalization in the world – 85 per cent of eligible permanent residents become citizens.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada received 333,860 citizenship applications in 2013, the highest volume ever and a strong reminder of the value of being a Canadian citizen.

“Canadian citizenship is highly valued around the world and our government is committed to ensuring that deserving applicants can be welcomed into the Canadian family more quickly,” said Alexander. “This is good for Canada’s economy, and good for Canadian society.”

Posted: Sep 1, 2014

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