Canada is welcoming more expats than ever as the government expands a citizenship program.
Since 2006, around 2.5 million expats have moved to a new life in Canada, at the rate of around 250,000 people a year.
The government says applications from expats to move to the country have soared by 80% and measures are in place to reduce a backlog of requests for visas to live and work in Canada.
The expat program is spurred by the need to supplement an aging population with an army of younger workers with the skills to grow the economy.
“The rising level of people who want to come and live in Canada shows the country is a desirable place to live,” said Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander.
“Canada is vibrant modern country welcoming people of every race, culture and faith who want the opportunity to play a part in our communities and economy.”
In March 2014, almost 40,000 people from 199 different countries were granted Canadian citizenship at ceremonies in towns and cities across the nation. A year earlier, the number was nearer 14,000.
In the first three months of 2014, around 76,000 expats were granted Canadian citizenship at 760 ceremonies across the country, compared with 35,000 during the same period last year.
For 2013, the total number of expats granted citizenship was 129,000 people at a rate of about 11,000 a month.
At the current rate, Canada grants citizenship to an expat at the rate of 444 a day.
The government hopes to increase the rate that expats are granted visas by streamlining the application process.
Qualifying for citizenship
“These proposed changes will reduce the time someone has to wait for citizenship to less than a 12 months and should cut the queue waiting to for citizenship by at least 80% over the next two years,” said the minister.
Expats are eligible for Canadian citizenship providing they meet six qualifying tests:
- Aged over 18
- Have permanent resident status,
- The length of time they have lived in Canada,
- They should demonstrate English language skills,
- Not have a criminal record
- Prove a knowledge of Canadian history and culture
Having specific qualifications and job skills can also help with visa and citizenship applications.
The Canadian Citizenship and Immigration has a comprehensive web site that details the qualification and citizenship process in detail for expats.
Find out more about emigrating to Canada