A Snapshot comparison on immigation: Naturalizations in Canada and the United States

The Toronto Islamic Centre rents an entire second floor above juice and yogurt stores just north of the Yonge and Wellesley street intersection. Source.

A record 260,000 people became naturalized Canadians in 2014, double the number from 2013, and more than any other year in Canada’s history.

By comparison, according to the most recent available statistics,in the United States in 2013, 779,929 individuals naturalized — almost exactly three times the number of individuals naturalized in Canada.

However, for this comparison to be meaningful, a look at the respective populations of the two countries is in order: On July 1, 2014, Canada’s population was estimated at 35,540,400, whereas the U.S. population in 2013 (to keep the year relating to naturalizations consistent) was estimated at 316,497,531.

Using these figures as a gauge, we can see that, give or take, nearly three-quarters of 1 percent of Canada’s entire population consists of individuals who became new citizens in a single year (although they were, of course, already in the country as landed immigrants, the Canadian equivalent of permanent resident aliens). This is a surprisingly high figure —triple that of the United States, where the percentage of new citizens in 2013, vs. overall population was much more modest: a shade more than a quarter of 1 percent.

The rapid increase in the number of naturalizations in Canada was apparently due to changes in processing that eliminated several steps previously required of citizenship applicants… This sounds very much like steps taken in the United States in 1990, when responsibility for naturalization was shifted from federal courts to the bureaucracy, the process was “streamlined”, ostensibly to cure backlogs, and fees were also raised to cover processing costs. Unfortunately, the backlogs never quite went away…