The role of naturalization in immigrant integration: a critical analysis of Canadian citizenship policies

Title: The role of naturalization in immigrant integration: a critical analysis of Canadian citizenship policies
Authors: McIntosh, Stuart
Date: 2020
Abstract: Historically, Canada has had high naturalization rates due to relatively open citizenship policies and legislative support that encourages integration. In 1996, immigrants with 5 years of residence in Canada had a 68.1% naturalization rate and those with 10+ years had a naturalization rate upwards of 80%. However, this began to change in 2006, seemingly at the same time the Conservative government began to redefine Canadian citizenship (however, causation has not been proven). During this period, Canada redefined who they wanted to be a citizen and how it would be done. Thus, the legislative nature of citizenship was exposed at the behest of political party division. A recent report by Feng Hou and Garnett Picot outlines that although the overall measure of citizenship has remained steady at roughly 85%, this is not indicative of the declines that are currently happening, especially for newcomers and vulnerable immigrant groups. Though measuring the naturalization rate can be done in a variety of ways, the current method includes all immigrants eligible for naturalization even if they naturalized decades ago, which skews the overall rate upwards. Canada and Canadian’s, as a country that encourages integration, should care about the mounting evidence of a declining naturalization rate. A declining naturalization rate has socioeconomic impacts on both the state and immigrants. Moreover, the effect of a declining naturalization rate on vulnerable immigrants, particularly the refugee population, is especially of concern. There are several initiatives that both IRCC and government could undertake to better understand the naturalization rate and its importance for immigrants. The purpose of this paper is to provide a foundation on which to continue research and evidence-based analysis to aid in our understanding of the effect of the naturalization process on an immigrant’s integration trajectory.
CollectionAffaires publiques et internationales - Mémoires // Public and International Affairs - Research Papers