ICC Immigration Dashboard: A take on Citizenship


Globally, Canada is a known immigration destination. Domestically, significant political and public attention is given to Canada’s target immigration levels, but also the challenges newcomers face after their arrival. In general, little attention tends to be given to the number of immigrants choosing to become Canadian citizens. The ICC recently published 2021 data from Statistics Canada revealing citizenship rates among recent adult immigrants have decreased drastically over time. The data from 2021 show that only 45.7% of permanent residents became citizens within 10 years – a 40% decline in the naturalization rate for this cohort since 2001.

This decline raises questions about the value of Canadian citizenship. Why are so many PR holders deciding not become citizens after they are eligible?

A recent federal government proposal could potentially change the way that citizenship ceremonies are administered, factors that the ICC’s co-founder, The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson argues will contribute to an overall decrease in the desirability of Canadian citizenship. The decline of the naturalization rate is worrisome for Canada due to our dependence on immigration for population growth but also cultural dynamism. It further raises questions about how Canada is perceived amongst recent newcomers.

Given the significant decline in the proportion of newcomers becoming citizens, the ICC will be exploring the reasons behind the decline in naturalization rates. Until then, this analysis is based on the Citizenship and Immigration Dashboard that explores citizenship and permanent residence levels over the past few years.

Citizenship Comparison: 2018 – 2022

The trend lines in our Citizenship and Immigration Dashboard depict a steady increase in immigration levels, except for the significant drop in 2020 caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. As IRCC revamped and powered through significant backlogs, 2022 experienced the highest citizenship numbers with an uptick in March where Canada received 41,678 new citizens.

Overall in 2022, the citizenship numbers started off weak but ended on a strong note as Canada welcomed 369,153 new Canadian citizens (see top 15 source countries below), a significant rise since 2021 when only 136,732 Canadian citizens were granted. It’s important to note that while the annual figures below show a generally positive trend in the number of new citizens each year, the overall proportion of permanent residents becoming citizens is in decline.











Citizenship versus Permanent Residence in 2022

As IRCC reported, 2022 ended on a high note with a record number of permanent residents as seen in the graph below. However, the number of permanent residents becoming citizens has not received much attention. This chart shows the increased levels of permanent residents in 2022, but citizenship numbers are lower in comparison. While June, July, and September saw a high admission of permanent residents, citizenship numbers were lower than in the other months.

Citizenship by Source Country (2018-2022)

The Citizenship and Immigration Dashboard, which is built on a 2018 baseline, shows trends in the number of new Canadian citizens by source country. The chart below shows the Top 15 source countries, where the lowest source country (Bangladesh) had more than 5,000 new Canadian citizens admitted. India and the Philippines have ranked as the top countries of origin for the past 5 years, while the United States, Pakistan, Iran, and China have closely leveled with one another over the years.

As the ICC continues its exploration of the decline in naturalization rates, do you have a perspective on why fewer permanent residents are choosing to become Canadian citizens? Take a look at our immigration dashboard for updated numbers of PRs and citizens (January 2023 saw the highest number of PRs admitted), and add your voice to the conversation (our social media links are below)!

You can learn more about the ICC here. Join the conversation and be part of building a more inclusive Canada.

Be sure to keep a lookout for our next monthly ICC Immigration Dashboard analysis

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