Researcher Predicts That Online Citizenship Tests Could Increase Demand For In-Person Testing

Canada is set to experience a massive surge in permanent residents obtaining citizenship, either later this year or early next year. This is according to statements made to by Robert Falconer, a research associate at the University of Calgary.

This surge should not come as a surprise, as citizenship rates dropped dramatically in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In fact, during the first 11 months of 2020, only 107,119 people took the citizenship oath in Canada. This is a decrease of 45.9 per cent, compared to the 233,397 people who became Canadian citizens during the same period in 2019.

The reason for the decline in 2020 is that citizenship ceremonies across the country were cancelled in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In April, only 14 people took the citizenship oath, and by May, this number increased to 61. As lockdown restrictions were lifted, the number began to increase again with 1,716 people taking the oath in June, and 13,819 in September.

In November, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) launched an online platform allowing new Canadian residents to take citizenship tests. This made Canada the first country in the world to offer citizenship testing online. However, the platform is still undergoing testing, and only a limited number of people have been invited to use the platform at this point.

Falconer told that moving immigration testing online will likely lead to a decrease in the number of people taking their citizenship tests. He believes this is because becoming a Canadian citizen is a momentous occasion that many want to celebrate with friends and family. However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, these types of in-person celebrations are not taking place.

By the summer of 2021, though, Falconer predicts that there will be an increase in demand for in-person citizenship ceremonies.

“There’ll be an explosion in citizenship ceremonies for a couple of reasons,” said Falconer. “People are waiting until they can do it in person and, on the government side, it’s taking longer to process the applications.”

Between the increase in demand and the regular volume of a normal year, Falconer estimates that 30,000 people could become citizens each month in 2022.

However, Falconer added that it may be difficult for the IRCC to handle this influx in citizenship applications.

“The IRCC is one of the most under-staffed government institutions in Canada,” he said.