The number of Indians living in Canada who obtained citizenship increased by 50% this year, The Times of India reported, quoting immigration authorities. During the 10-month period ending October 2018, as many as 15,016 Indians obtained citizenship after having lived in the country as permanent residents for a certain period of time.

This number in the corresponding period last year was 9,992. India was only marginally behind the Philippines (15,642) in the number of permanent residents acquiring Canadian citizenship.

From January to October this year, 1.39 lakh permanent residents became Canadian citizens, with Indians accounting for 10.7% of them. While these are preliminary figures, the numbers are expected to rise when final statistics are calculated.

According to Canadian rules, a permanent resident must have lived in the country for at least three of the five years before applying for citizenship. While permanent residents can live and work in the country, get social benefits, and are protected under Canadian laws, they are not allowed to vote or run for political office.

According to the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, almost 1.53 lakh people would have obtained Canadian citizenship by October, an increase of 40% compared to 1.08 lakh people in the corresponding period last year. The number increased after the country introduced new citizenship rules in October 2017.

The highest number of Indians – 51,651 – became permanent residents of Canada in 2017, ahead of the Philippines with 40,857 citizens and China with 30,270. According to the “2018 Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration”, a total of 2.86 lakh individuals were admitted to Canada as permanent residents in 2017.

Immigration law specialist Talha Mohani, based in Ontario, said since October 2017 it has become easier to qualify to apply for Canadian citizenship. “In particular, the time period for which a permanent resident must be physically present in Canada before applying for citizenship has reduced,” Mohani said. “As compared to a four-year residency requirement out of six years, now a permanent resident needs to be physically present in Canada for three out of five years.”

NPZ Law Group managing attorney David Nachman said a Canadian passport allows citizens to apply for a Trade National visa to enter and work in the United States. This visa is easier to obtain than the H-1B work visa for employees.