More than twice as many people became Canadian citizens last month compared to January 2013, Citizenship and Immigration Canada said Tuesday.
In January 2014, more than 16,000 people hailing from 190 different countries became citizens at ceremonies across the country—more than double that of January 2013, when 8,250 people obtained citizenship.
CIC attributed the increase to $44 million in investments made in the last budget, which aimed to speed up processing times and reduce application backlogs.
“We are proud to have welcomed more than 16,000 new Canadian citizens this past month and we look forward to their full participation in Canada’s economy and Canadian society,” Immigration Minister Chris Alexander said in a statement.
“We will continue to improve Canada’s citizenship program to ensure deserving applicants can become citizens more quickly,” he added.
Last month, the federal government announced that by 2022, it plans to double the number of international students in Canada to more than 450,000 by targeting China and other fast-growing countries.
Since 2006, Canada has had the highest sustained levels of immigration in Canadian history—an average of 257,000 newcomers each year. Accordingly, the demand for citizenship has increased by 30 percent, says CIC.
On Thursday, the federal government will announce sweeping changes to citizenship rules, calling it “the first comprehensive reform to the Citizenship Act in more than a generation.”