In early 2017, Conservative Senator Victor Oh pushed for the amendment of Bill C6. With this amendment, minors can now apply for citizenship with no regard to their parents’ application status. They may however, seek the services of a Canadian immigration lawyer to do this.
This bill, that was the initiative of the Liberal government, has however led to an increase in fees payable by minors. Minors applying together with their parents pay $100, but those that are not applying together with their parents now have to pay $530, the same as adults.
Critics Are Against The Fee
One critic of this higher fee for minors is Andrew Griffith, a retired director general of the Immigration Department. He said, “It was likely driven by somebody thinking bureaucratically without thinking about the policy’s intent to make it easier for minors to become citizens independently.” He added, “That’s a lot of money, particularly for this vulnerable population. The government has removed the legal barrier to citizenship for them but has now set up a new financial barrier. Theoretically, more young people could become citizens. In practice, they will find it a lot harder.”
What Has Senator Victor Oh said?
Senator Victor Oh is against the hefty fees. According to Senator Victor Oh, there were no fee-specific provisions in the motion when it was being passed because from what he understood and what he was told, there were no legislative changes that were required to set processing fees since this was within the discretion of the immigration minister. He told the Star, “I was advised that would take a simple regulatory amendment by the minister, who has the authority to do that.”
Victor Oh said that he sent a letter to Hussen in early July asking him to lower the fee to $100 or less, but he has not heard back from the minister yet. He said, “We can’t discriminate and penalize the minors who apply on their own. These children are the most vulnerable and they are not making it easier for them to become citizens.”
What Is The Government Saying?
However, the Liberal government has defended its action and stated that its intention is to make it easier for minors to obtain citizenship. During senate debate on the bill, Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen said, “The government supports the amendment to make it easier for children to obtain citizenship without a Canadian parent and has made changes to clarify who can apply for citizenship on behalf of the child.”
Immigration officials are saying that the $530 application fee reflects the increasing processing costs. According to one such official, Julie Lafortune who is a spokesperson for the Immigration Department, “As part of its ongoing review of the impact of changes to the citizenship program, consideration will be given to this processing fee difference created by the amendment.”