Canadian Immigration Application Fees to Increase

Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced the federal government’s proposed budget on Thursday, which calls for increased fees on citizenship and temporary resident visa applications and increased spending on application processing (Maria Azzurra Mugnai)

Immigration processing fees are going to increase, according to a proposed federal budget released on Thursday.

The cause of the coming fee hikes, according to Alexis Pavlich, a spokeswoman for Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, is Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) processing costs for citizenship applications that have increased over the last two decades, without any increases in fees over that time.

Fees currently paid by individuals applying for citizenship only cover 20 percent of the processing cost, and the rest is paid out of taxes levied on the general population. CIC plans on doubling the processing fee for citizenship applications to $400, to reduce the portion paid out of general revenues to 60 percent.

As of September 2012, there were 319,517 citizenship applications awaiting processing, and only enough funding for CIC to process 160,000 of them. The proposed budget allocates $44 million in additional funding over two years to speed up the processing of the remaining citizenship applications, and gives CIC the authority to increase fees to pay for the spending.

Fees for temporary resident permits are also likely to increase. Canada has seen the number of visitor visas issued per year increase to over one million in 2012, and the federal government plans to spend $42 million over two years to process them more quickly. To fund the extra spending, the government is planning to allow CIC to raise application fees for visitor visa applications.

Fees for temporary resident visas haven’t increased for 15 years, according to Pavlich.

Another area where federal officials hope to collect more money is in work permit applications. Currently, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) handles the labour market assessments required for work permit applications at no cost to the employer who is seeking to hire the foreign national.

The federal government plans to begin charging companies a fee for the labour market assessments.

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