It’s high time the federal government took action to jettison dormant citizenship applications that are clogging the system.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada will start closing the files of those who repeatedly fail to attend scheduled citizenship tests or interviews. Applications submitted on or after April 17, 2009, will also be classified as dormant and closed if applicants fail to provide proof of residency after receiving two notices from the government, Postmedia News reports.
A department spokeswoman estimates that about 12,000 files will be closed in coming weeks and said that 54,000 citizenship applicants have failed to show up for their test in the past three years alone.
Frankly, if applicants take such a casual attitude to becoming citizens after living in the country for as little as three out of the past four years, their files should be closed and the would-be Canadians required to take their place at the back of the queue if they choose to pursue the process at some point in the future. Imagine if a job seeker showed such little regard for their application — submitting an incomplete resume and not bothering to appear for a scheduled interview? No employer would bother to pursue or hire that person. In both cases, people who can’t be bothered to follow procedures shouldn’t be permitted to tie up the process.
To ensure a good degree of fairness, those who miss a citizenship test or interview because of illness or caring for a dying parent — among other acceptable reasons — won’t lose their place in line. That’s as it should be and guarantees that those with a legitimate reason for not making an appearance aren’t unduly dismissed.
“Those who take their citizenship seriously will not have to wait in line behind those that don’t bother showing up to their citizenship test, interview, or who don’t respond to a residence questionnaire,” said Andrea Khanjin, a spokeswoman for Immigration Minister Chris Alexander.
“The citizenship application process has been bogged down for too long by those that do not take Canadian citizenship seriously.”
That’s an understatement. The federal government says the citizenship application backlog stood at 349,249 at the close of 2012. The average processing time is 25 months for a routine application and 35 months for more complicated files.
The recent budget included $44 million over two years to accelerate the processing times, which is money well spent.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada, particularly under the stewardship of former minister Jason Kenney, has made a number of reforms designed to improve the efficiency of the system. Earlier this summer, for example, the government announced that those who failed the citizenship test will get a speedy one-time-only do-over, removing the necessity to wait to appear before a judge to seek to rewrite the test again.
Clearing the computers of dormant applications is just one more measure that should assist sincere, qualified applicants to negotiate their way through the process as seamlessly as possible, which is in everybody’s best interest.