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Fewer immigrants are becoming Canadian citizens

Issues over integration and a desire to become Canadian citizens might be a factor in these trends.

Fewer recent immigrants are becoming Canadian citizens, according to a new report from Statistics Canada. 

A study, “Trends in the Citizenship Rate Among New Immigrants to Canada,” analyzed the rate of immigrants who went on to become Canadian citizens over the past 20 years.

“The results show that the citizenship rate among recent immigrants peaked in 1996 and declined considerably since then. This decline primarily occurred after 2006,” writes the study. 

Research shows that the citizenship rate among recent immigrants declined considerably over the past few decades. In 1996, 68% of immigrants who were in Canada for five years went on to become Canadian citizens, whereas in 2016 only 43% did the same. 

Issues over integration and a desire to become Canadian citizens might be a factor in these trends. 

According to the Canadian Index for Measuring Integration, the number of naturalized immigrants who voted in federal elections has also declined. Over the period of 2001-2005, a total of 76% of immigrants reported voting in the federal election, whereas by 2011, only 53% exercised their democratic rights as citizens.

The latest Stats Canada report found that immigrants who were in Canada between 5 to 9 years, a high of 75% became citizens in 1996, whereas in 2016, only 60% acquired citizenship. The study notes that the decline occurred mostly in recent years, dropping over seven percentage points over the course of 2011 to 2016. 

Regionally, the rate of immigrants from China going on to become Canadian citizens has dropped by nearly 40%. In 1996, 83% of immigrants from China went on to become naturalized, whereas by 2016, only 45% became citizens. 

Citizenship rates have declined across socioeconomic groups and varying language abilities. Although the highest decrease was witnessed among lower-income families with little English or French language abilities, high earners and those with higher education were also affected.

In 2001, 75% of immigrant families earning over $100,000 a year went on to become citizens, whereas in 2016, the number fell to 67%. The number of immigrants with university degrees has also declined from 81% in 1996 to 67% in 2016.

Recently the province of Quebec introduced a values screening test for new immigrants. The test requires prospective immigrants to answer questions about gender equality, secularism and provincial values. 

A poll from 2017 shows that Canadians overwhelmingly support screening new immigrants for Canadian values. A total of 74% of Canadians either strongly agreed with (35%) or found the idea of a values test “mostly favourable” (39%).

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