Federal lawyers are ready to act on one of Justin Trudeau’s key campaign promises of repealing the controversial Conservative law that gives Ottawa the power to strip convicted terrorists of their Canadian citizenship.
The Justice Department recently requested an indefinite adjournment in five high-profile court challenges targeting the Harper-era revocation law, saying federal lawyers assigned to the cases cannot move forward without direction from the incoming Liberals. All parties to the court actions are scheduled to reconvene on Dec. 9 for a case-management conference in Toronto; by then, the Liberals’ specific intentions should be evident.
Lawyers for all sides consented to the adjournment request, and the order was approved by Justice Russel Zinn 48 hours before Trudeau and his ministers were to be officially sworn in by Governor General David Johnston. The parties are now awaiting word on further direction following the recent election of the Liberals who promised to rescind certain provisions of the controversial legislation known as Bill C-24. The conservatives implemented the law which allows the government to revoke the citizenship of anyone convicted of serious crimes against national security, including treason, espionage and terrorism—providing that person is a dual national who holds citizenship in a second country.
To date, 10 Canadians have been served with a “Notice of Intent to Revoke” since the law took effect on May 29, and only one—Zakaria Amara, the confessed ringleader of the 2006 “Toronto 18” bomb plot, now serving a life sentence—has actually lost his citizenship. Five of those convicted terrorists have since launched Charter challenges in Federal Court, arguing, inter alia, that Bill C-24 is unconstitutional because it amounts to “cruel and unusual punishment” and creates “second-tier citizenship” by singling out dual nationals.
While there is no dispute that these men were terrorists, what is debatable, however, is whether these convicted terrorists—despite their grievous crimes—deserve to be stripped of their Canadian citizenship, a punishment akin to banishment.
Trudeau clearly pledged, “No, a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian,” many times on the campaign trail.
What happens next, though, is not entirely clear. The Trudeau government could decide to withdraw all notices served to date, eliminating the immediate threat of revocation and rendering the court cases moot. But striking down the law itself will require an Act of Parliament, a process that could take many months, if not years.
If nothing else, the Federal Court adjournment gives the Liberals additional time to determine the best course of action on this controversial legislation, from the now terminated conservative era.
The new requirements for Canadian Citizenship are now in force. The changes to the Canadian Citizenship Act, the most comprehensive in more than 35 years, make it much harder and more costly to become a Citizen of Canada.
One of the most important changes is the requirement that an individual must now physically reside in Canada for 4 years over a 6-year qualifying period.
The fees for obtaining Canadian Citizenship have been increased to $630 per adult application and $200 for a minor.
A summary of the main changes include the following:
- Applicants must be permanent residents of Canada for at least 1,460 days (four years) during the six years before the date of their application.
- Applicants must be physically present in Canada for at least 183 days in each of 4-years within the 6-year qualifying period.
- Applicants are required to provide extensive proof of actual residence in Canada.
- Applicants between the ages of 14 and 64 must meet basic knowledge and language requirements.
- Adult applicants must declare their intent to reside in Canada once they become citizens.
- To help improve program integrity, there are now stronger penalties for fraud and misrepresentation (to a maximum fine of $100,000 and/or up to five years in prison).
- Only lawyers or notaries (including paralegals and students at law) or members of the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC), can be paid to provide citizenship applicants with representation or advice.
- The new law no longer considers time spent in Canada as a non-permanent resident (non-PR) for most applicants.
- Expansion of criminal prohibitions to bar applicants for crimes committed abroad.
- Gives the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada the authority to refuse an application if applicant commits fraud.
- Gives Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada authority to decide on most revocation cases.
- Complex revocation cases such as war crimes, crimes against humanity, security, other human or international rights violations, and organized criminality will be decided by the Federal Court.
- Establishes authority to define what constitutes a complete application and what evidence applicants must provide.
- Changes citizenship to a single-step process for most applications. CIC aims to reduce duplication and improve processing times.
- Requires adult applicants to file Canadian income taxes, if required under the Income Tax Act, to be eligible for citizenship.
- Authority to revoke Canadian citizenship from dual citizens who served as members of an armed force of a country or an organized armed group engaged in armed conflict with Canada.
- Authority to revoke Canadian citizenship from dual citizens who are convicted of terrorism, high treason, treason, or spying offences, depending on the sentence received.
- Authority to deny Canadian citizenship to permanent residents who served as members of an armed force of a country or an organized armed group engaged in armed conflict with Canada or who are convicted of terrorism, high treason or spying offenses.
- Applicants can be refused for misrepresenting or withholding material facts on applications and are subsequently barred from being granted citizenship for five years.
- Citizenship will be automatically extended to additional “Lost Canadians” effective June 11th 2015, who were born before 1947, and did not become citizens on January 1, 1947 when the first Canadian Citizenship Act came into effect. This will also apply to their children born in the first generation outside Canada.
- Creates a fast-track mechanism for citizenship for individuals serving or on exchange with the Canadian Armed Forces to honour their service to Canada.
Historically, about 75% of Canada’s annual intake of immigrants apply for citizenship. It is expected the new rules and the much higher costs will result in a substantial reduction in the numbers of new applications each year to less than half of Canada’s annual immigration levels.
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A number of so-called “Lost Canadians” have finally received their Canadian citizenship this month. As of June 11, citizenship was granted to those “Lost Canadians” who were born prior to 1947, and did not become citizens when the first Canadian Citizenship Act came into force in that year.
“This will also apply to their children born in the first generation outside Canada,” Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander said in a written statement.
However, any Lost Canadian who wants a certificate to prove their citizenship – which will help them access pensions and apply for passports – still needs to apply from scratch to obtain it. The CIC website states that citizenship certificates take up to five months to process.
The “Lost Canadians” are a group of people who were denied or stripped of citizenship because of a complicated set of laws that discriminated on the basis of gender, race, and age.
Many people discovered that they were Lost Canadians only when they tried to obtain passports or access health care and were informed that they didn’t qualify because they did not have proof of citizenship, something that was denied to them when they would apply to CIC. As a result, a number of Lost Canadians sued the federal government.
The government passed the latest legislation last June after changes it implemented in 2009 still left several people ineligible to receive citizenship.
In addition to the provisions for Lost Canadians, other changes to the Citizenship Act have given CIC expanded powers to revoke the citizenship of Canadians, with dual nationals “who commit acts of terrorism or acts against Canadian interests” at risk of losing their Canadian citizenship.
Additionally, the right to appeal decisions on citizenship has been eliminated, and new citizenship applicants between the ages of 14 and 64 must meet basic knowledge and language requirements.
Paul Compton has done exactly what the federal government recommended to get his son recognized as a Canadian citizen, but his problems have yet to be solved. For the past five years the Ontario native has been corresponding with public servants, appealing to politicians and even relocated his family in a bid to rectify what he views as an unjust and precarious situation.
“They’ve been able to take away the rights of citizenship to my son,” Compton told The Canadian Press. “I will not allow the Canadian government to do this.”
The 45-year-old and his family have found themselves ensnared in a set of regulatory changes made to the Citizenship Act in 2009, which limits the ability to pass on Canadian citizenship to only the first generation of a family born abroad. The main problem lies in the fact that Compton was born in Scotland, where his parents were living while in university. He was brought to Canada when he was five months old and lived in the country until his early 30s.
A teacher by profession, Compton then got a job at an international school and moved to Lima, where he met his Peruvian wife. His first son was born in Peru and automatically became a Canadian citizen. His second son, however, was born just months after the new rules came into effect. The change meant that five-year-old Mateo is not a Canadian.
The new rules were part of legislation which solved the problems of thousands whose citizenship had been taken away by outdated legal provisions. At the same time, however, the government said they were protecting the value of Canadian statehood by ensuring citizenship couldn’t be passed on from generation to generation of those living outside Canada.
The changes made Compton feel like a second-class Canadian and he wasn’t aware of the new rules until he tried to apply for a Canadian passport for his son in 2010 and was denied. The situation has only worsened over time.
After trying to deal with the matter from Peru, Compton returned to Ontario with his family in February 2014. He and his older son entered the country as Canadians, but Mateo, for whom he had to obtain a Peruvian passport, and Compton’s wife came in on visitor visas. Once in the country, Compton applied for permanent residency for his son and his wife but after more than a year, the application is still being processed.
Compton is now asking that Mateo immediately be granted Canadian citizenship on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, and is also asking that his wife’s application for permanent residency be expedited. His MP has even raised his case with the citizenship and immigration minister.
CIC claims to be giving the highest priority to “family class” permanent residency applications while children can also apply for citizenship as soon as they become permanent residents.
In addition to waiting for his wife and son’s permanent residency, Compton recently learned the provincial health care he secured for Mateo on a temporary basis had been rescinded, as it was issued in error. Ontario’s Ministry of Health notes that among the eligibility requirements for the Ontario Health Insurance Plan, residents must be a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident or “among one of the newcomer to Canada groups who are eligible for OHIP.”
There are no provisions allowing OHIP to be granted on compassionate grounds or for any discretionary reason.
Attorney Colin Singer Commentary:
While CIC claims to be giving the highest priority to Family Class applications, stakeholders can attest that delays have grown significantly under the Harper government. Additionally, refusal rates have increased by 20% for spousal sponsorship applications as currently policies question the “genuiness” of many marriages.
2015-02-04 | 2015 CF 142 | T-338-14
Miji c Canada (Citoyenneté et Immigration)
If a citizenship applicant satisfies s. 5(1) of the Citizenship Act under a qualitative analysis, it is a violation of procedural fairness to reject his application based on a failure to satisfy s. 5(1) under a quantitative analysis.
Miji sought judicial review of a citizenship judge’s decision to reject his application for Canadian citizenship.
Miji’s application was rejected because he had failed to prove that he had resided in Canada for the requisite number of days as per s. 5(1) of the Citizenship Act
The Federal Court argued that there are three methods by which a citizenship judge can determine whether an applicant has satisfied the requirements of s. 5(1). The first is quantitative and involves calculating exactly how many days an applicant has spent in Canada. The second and third methods are qualitative and involve an analysis of whether the applicant has centralized his ordinary mode of living in Canada and whether the applicant lives regularly and habitually in Canada.
While the citizenship judge rejected Miji’s application under the quantitative method, the court found that Miji’s application would have succeeded had the judge used either of the two qualitative methods of analysis. The court thus found the rejection of Miji’s application to have violated the principles of procedural fairness.
The request for judicial review was allowed
The percentage of immigrants who obtain Canadian citizenship has fallen sharply from 79% to 26%, according to a study of immigrants who arrived between 2000 and 2008.
The fall is due to new rules and fees that have made it more difficult for people to become Canadian, says former citizenship director general Andrew Griffith.
Griffith’s report, which analyzes the effect of citizenship reforms, is based on official government data and shows that the proportion of Canada’s permanent residents who eventually acquire citizenship has been declining since 2000, with sharp drops recorded in the past few years. Figures for 2008 show that only 26% of permanent residents who settled in Canada that year have become Canadian citizens, compared to 44% in 2007 and 79% in 2000.
Griffith’s study also shows that the number of citizenship applications from visible minorities had been adversely affected since the launch of the new version of Canadian citizenship test. “In the past, citizenship was viewed as a stepping stone to immigrant integration, and it should be done earlier on,” says Griffith. “These changes have made it harder and prohibitive for some to acquire citizenship, turning Canada into a country where an increasing percentage of immigrants are likely to remain non-citizens, without the ability to engage in the Canadian political process.”
According to Griffith, government data shows that it takes immigrants an average of six years to obtain Canadian citizenship. And the numbers of 2008 show only the first wave of effects caused by the citizenship reforms, meaning further declines are to be expected.
“The permanent-resident-to-citizen conversion rate does generally rise the longer immigrants have been in Canada. But an 18% decrease between the 2008 and 2007 cohorts is alarming,” says Griffith.
However, Citizenship and Immigration Canada does not agree with Griffith’s analysis. Johanne Nadeau, spokesperson for CIC, says that Griffith might have misinterpreted the data as “he is not taking into account those (permanent residents) who are not yet eligible to become citizens because they haven’t met all of the requirements needed to begin the citizenship process.”
Nadeau says that Canada has one of the highest naturalization rates globally and “86% of eligible permanent residents for Canadian citizenship decide to acquire it”, mainly because of the benefits of Canadian citizenship over permanent residency, which includes the right to vote, and possession of Canadian passports.
The citizenship reforms introduced since 2010 include a new tougher citizenship test designed to evaluate an applicant’s knowledge of Canada’s culture, history, and values. The passing score for this test has also been increased from 60% to 75%.
Additionally, the increase in citizenship fees has added a further obstacle for those seeking citizenship. Last year the fee was increased from $100 per adult to $300 in February, and again to $530 in December.
Griffith says he understands the rationale behind these government changes but believes that steps should be taken to promote inclusion rather than exclusion. “We need to make sure those who apply for citizenship take it seriously, but we don’t want to inadvertently create excessive barriers and shift the relationship of some of the communities with the country.”
Further controversial changes are set to come into force later this year that will make it harder to obtain citizenship. One such change is the requirement for citizenship applicants to have been present in Canada for four out of the previous six years, rather than the current requirement of three out of the previous four years.
A Canadian court has reversed the ban on niqabs or face veils worn by women taking Canadian citizenship oaths. The ban on the niqab was introduced in 2011 and had attracted much controversy with critics calling it “unlawful” as it restricted one’s freedom of religion and was against Canadian values.
In January last year Zunera Ishaq from Pakistan challenged the ban and refused to remove her niqab, saying it violated her religious beliefs. “[The] policy required her to unveil in public when there was truly no need, simply because the niqab did not please the [former Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney],” said Naseem Misthoowani, the lawyer representing Ishaq. “My client feels very strongly that this set a dangerous precedent and the Canadian government has no role in dictating to women what is, or is not, a morally acceptable dress code.”
In the recent ruling, the court said that the government had gone too far by implementing the ban on wearing face veils during citizenship oath ceremonies, and said the ban hindered the citizenship judge’s legal obligation to make sure that the “greatest possible freedom” is given to people taking the Canadian oath of citizenship.
The veil or niqab is a garment worn by some Muslim women and covers the entire face barring the eyes. The government believes that it obstructed judges from recognizing people taking the citizenship oaths, and the ban was an attempt to make the new citizens follow Canadian norms. The government had even refused to consider holding separate ceremonies for women wearing the niqab so that they could unveil only in front of a female judge. “While the government of Canada values the diversity that people of all origins bring to the country, it is reasonable to expect citizenship candidates attending a public civil ceremony to show their faces while reciting the oath,” read a statement issued by the Citizenship and Immigration Ministry.
However critics of the ban say that it reflected “contempt for Canadian values”. Many believed that instead of encouraging integration, the ban created more division amongst people and was likely to make people less likely to “want to belong to a society or to a community that doesn’t accept them”.
According to Audrey Macklin, a law professor from University of Toronto, the verdict is “a nice reminder that actually the status quo in our law was to respect people’s religions, and what the government would have to do then [to implement the ban] is change our law to remove that respect.”
Canada’s Muslim community, however, is divided on the issue of banning the niqab. The ban was supported by the Director of the Muslim Canadian Congress, Munir Pervaiz, who says that Islam does not require women to wear the burqa or niqab. He believes that wearing niqabs could create “exclusion within an inclusive society and we believe that it is wrong.”
On the other hand women who wear niqabs feel that such bans encourage discrimination against them. They say that while it is reasonable to ask women to unveil during identification checks, it was not required during oath ceremonies. “So as long as the woman is not harming anybody or anything by her actions I don’t think that it should be banned, she should be allowed to dress as she sees fit,” says Farhana Lakhi, a resident of Toronto, who wears the niqab.
The Canadian government is appealing the ruling.
Operational Bulletin 407-D – November 08, 2013
Standardising the Preparation of Citizenship Grant Applications
The authorities have highlighted program integrity as being one of the key objectives in the Citizenship program. This Operational Bulletin (OB) aims to refine the specifications of the Citizenship program. It also seeks to ensure that the authorities only grant citizenship to those applicants that meet all the requirements for Canadian citizenship.
This OB seeks to inform citizenship staff that the authorities have made three significant changes to the manner in which the staff prepare citizenship applications. These include:
- Introducing and providing instructions concerning the new File Requirements Checklist
- The changes made to the Residence Questionnaire (RQ) that citizenship staff give to some applicants and,
- Providing instructions and templates that citizenship staff would need to use for standardising the manner in which they prepare the following cases for review and decision by a citizenship judge:
- Residence cases
- Immigration cases and,
The following documents came into force on May 07, 2012:
- The new File Requirements Checklist
- The file preparation templates and,
- The Residence Questionnaire (RQ)
In addition, citizenship staff would need to note that they would need to replace all customised local office forms for the following cases by the Residence Questionnaire (RQ) and the file preparation templates:
- Residence cases
- Immigration cases and,
The authorities have mandated that citizenship staff must use these new forms in all cases. The only exception to this rule is when citizenship staff are dealing with transition cases.
The authorities received feedback during the dialogue sessions. These sessions took place in Fall 2012 and Winter 2013. Based on the feedback given, they assessed the tools. Thereafter, they modified the file requirement checklist and the file analysis and preparation templates in July 2013. They did so to eliminate the duplication involved in data entry.
The authorities are also making various significant changes as of November 08, 2013. These changes involve:
- Application triaging
- Data entry
- Requests for documentation and,
- The preparation of Residence Questionnaire (RQ) cases
The authorities have made changes to the existing process in November 2012 and July 2013.
The File Requirements Checklist – CIT 0508
The authorities have designed the new File Requirements Checklist keeping one objective in mind. The new File Requirements Checklist will ensure that the citizenship staff can see the relevant information easily on each file as it moves forward in processing. The system will print the entire checklist at the Case Processing Centre in Sydney (CPC-S). Thereafter, the citizenship staff will insert the checklist directly into each individual file folder.
The File Requirements Checklist will be the first document to appear, when citizenship staff open the citizenship file folder. Citizenship staff would need to note that they must note staple the File Requirements Checklist on top of each file.
The Case Processing Centre in Sydney (CPC-S) will complete Part A of the checklist. Part A includes a section concerning the completeness of the application. Similarly, the local offices would need to complete Part B of the checklist. Part B builds upon the information included in Part A. It includes:
- sections for follow-ups identified in Part A,
- Pre-interview sections
- Interview sections and,
- Additional space for the various checks and follow-ups that citizenship staff typically conduct at the pre and post-interview stages
Citizenship staff would need to ensure that they complete the File Requirements Checklist. This would ensure that the information prepared in the file is suitable in both, quality and consistency. This would in turn, enable the citizenship judge to review the file and make an informed decision on the application.
The instructions given below highlight how citizenship staff would need to complete each section of the File Requirements Checklist. Citizenship staff would need to note that the new File Requirements Checklist (CIT 0508) replaces the previous:
- File Requirements (CIT 0470) and,
- File Referral forms (CIT 0466)
Part A – To Be Completed by the Case Processing Centre in Sydney (CPC-S)
The Completeness Section
The Case Processing Centre in Sydney (CPC-S) used the application completeness checklists prior to May 07, 2012. The section on the completeness of the application replaces the application completeness checklists from now onwards.
This section focus on whether or not all the required information is on file for citizenship staff to commence processing the application. The Case Processing Centre in Sydney (CPC-S) has begun returning incomplete citizenship applications. It has been following this practice since November 2011. Therefore, the officers would need to ensure that they complete this section entirely. Only then would these files start moving forward in the process.
- The authorities made amendments to the list of items that applicants would need to submit along with their applications
- The new additions to the list of items required include:
- School records for children
- A photocopy of the passport bio-page
- The evidence of meeting the language requirements and,
- Translations from an accredited translator
- The authorities have made the amendments with effect from November 01, 2012
- As a result of the changes to the application kit, the authorities have also made a few modifications to the File Requirements Checklist
- The Case Processing Centre in Sydney (CPC-S) has also been returning incoming applications submitted using versions of the application form that are older than September 2012
- The Case Processing Centre in Sydney (CPC-S) has been following this practice since November 01, 2012
- In addition, the authorities previously made an update to the application form and the Residence Questionnaire (RQ) in September 2012
- The objective of this update was to include a consent mechanism for obtaining traveller history reports from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA)
- The authorities also included this component in the November 2012 version of the application form
- In addition, the authorities distributed the instructions for local offices to obtain traveller history reports in April 2013
Procedure – Part A of Checklist
The Case Processing Centre in Sydney (CPC-S) has been printing and completing the new checklist for all files received in the mailroom. It has been doing so since May 07, 2012. Therefore, the mailroom has been filling in the Completeness section of the checklist.
Typically, the application form will highlight the application consent to obtain the Integrated Customs Enforcement System (ICES) report. In certain situations, the application form might not have the application consent to obtain the Integrated Customs Enforcement System (ICES) report. In this scenario, the Case Processing Centre in Sydney (CPC-S) would need to indicate this on the File Requirements Checklist. Therefore, they would not generate the Integrated Customs Enforcement System (ICES) report.
However, in certain situations, the local office might determine that it needs the Integrated Customs Enforcement System (ICES) report. In this scenario, the officers would need to ask the applicant to provide consent in-person. Officers could refer to the Template – ICES report request here.
In some circumstances, the applicant might refuse to provide the consent again. In this scenario, the applicant would need to obtain the Integrated Customs Enforcement System (ICES) report via an Access To Information and Privacy (ATIP) request. Applicants would need to make this request to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).
The Case Processing Centre in Sydney (CPC-S) mailroom might have already processed certain files prior to May 07, 2012. However, there is a great likelihood that these processed files might not have the new checklist. In these situations, the level 1 decision maker would need to complete Part A in its entirety. This is especially so if:
- The mailroom has already completed all the necessary steps and,
- The level 1 decision maker has not yet reviewed the application
In this scenario, the Case Processing Centre in Sydney (CPC-S) will also issue the Residence Questionnaire (RQ) as applicable in such cases.
Thereafter, situations will arise where the level 1 decision maker would have already seen an inventory of files on May 07, 2012. Thereafter, the officers would send this inventory of files to the local office. They would also send this inventory of files along with the old checklist.
- The Case Processing Centre in Sydney (CPC-S) has sent the vast majority of the remaining transition files to the local offices
- The Case Processing Centre in Sydney (CPC-S) has done this as of November 2012
- All files sent by the Case Processing Centre in Sydney (CPC-S) to the local offices would have the new checklists completed as well as attached
Part B – To Be Completed by the Local Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) Offices
The local office would need to complete Part B of the checklist for all applications it processes. It will follow this practice with effect from May 07, 2012.
Part B contains:
- Sections that need completion before the applicant appears for the test or interview with a citizenship official
- A portion that will require completion during the applicant’s interview with a citizenship official and,
- A final section that would require completion after the citizenship judge’s decision, but prior to the citizenship ceremony taking place
Some of the verifications in Part B of the checklist are similar to certain sections contained in the previous checklist. The authorities have added various rows for follow-up items flagged by:
- The Case Processing Centre in Sydney (CPC-S) and,
- The Global Case Management System (GCMS) or Field Operations Support System (FOSS) checks
Annex A contains detailed line-by-line information on Part B of the checklist.
The new checklist currently includes a portion that the local office would need to complete first. Only after the local office completes this portion can the applicant appear for the test or the interview with a citizenship official. Therefore, citizenship officials at the local office would need to review the file once the local office completes this portion. Only after these citizenship officials review the file can the applicant appear for the test or the interview event.
Situations might arise where a completed Residence Questionnaire (RQ) and various supporting documents are on file before the test or interview with the citizenship official commences. Therefore, officers have the authority to review this information before or after the test or interview session.
It is worth noting that citizenship officers are the only staff who can use the File Preparation and Analysis Template (FPAT). These citizenship officers would need to use the File Preparation and Analysis Template (FPAT) for conducting a formal analysis of:
- The Residence Questionnaire (RQ) and,
- Various supporting documents
Some portions of the File Preparation and Analysis Template (FPAT) might require data entry. The data entry could concern details such as the applicant name, absences etc. However, only another citizenship official (such as a clerk) can do this data entry. However, the citizenship officers would need to complete all the analysis portions of the template.
Procedure – Part B of Checklist
Officers would need to refer to Annex A for more information. Annex A contains detailed item-by-item instructions for completing the File Requirements Checklist.
Situations might arise where the Federal Court orders the authorities to make a redetermination on an existing citizenship application. In this scenario, the officers would need to forward the file for redetermination on an as-is basis. Therefore, they would not need to add the new checklist and preparation templates to the file. In addition, they do not need to request the applicant for a new Residence Questionnaire (RQ) either.
In certain cases though, the officers might need certain additional documents. In this case, the citizenship judge would need to contact the local office. The local office would obtain the necessary documents from the applicant.
Similarly, in certain cases, the citizenship judge might feel the need for conducting a hearing. In this situation too, the citizenship judge would need to contact the local office. The local office would thereafter, make the necessary arrangements.
The Residence Questionnaire (RQ)
The authorities revised the Residence Questionnaire (RQ) on May 07, 2012. Thereafter, they made other modifications to the Residence Questionnaire (RQ) on September 10, 2012.
The main amendment made to the Residence Questionnaire (RQ) involved the addition of a consent mechanism. This would enable the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to provide the applicant’s history of entries to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). Upon receiving the consent, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) officials at the Case Processing Centre in Sydney (CPC-S) would be able to generate the traveller history reports. The authorities circulated detailed procedures for obtaining these reports on April 17, 2013. Officers would need to refer to Annex C for going through these procedures.
A Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) official would first need to complete the table on the first page of the Residence Questionnaire (RQ). This table typically contains details such as:
- The UCI
- The File Number and,
- The Name
The Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) official would also need to indicate the relevant period on the document. Only after doing this, would the official send or give the Residence Questionnaire (RQ) to the applicant.
It is worth noting that:
- The Residence Questionnaire (RQ) only requests documents that cover the applicant’s relevant period
- The officials must only take recourse to the Residence Questionnaire (RQ) on rare occasions, where they cannot obtain the information otherwise
- The officials can resolve most cases that have minor residence issues easily without requiring a Residence Questionnaire (RQ)
As mentioned above, the local office must only issue the Residence Questionnaire (RQ) to applicants as a measure of last resort. Therefore, the local office would only do this when they cannot obtain the information otherwise.
Situations might arise where various residence concerns arise at the local office. In these cases, the local staff would need to take all possible efforts for resolving the residence issues. That too, without using the Residence Questionnaire (RQ). Therefore, the staff has the authority to request specific documents from the applicants via the CIT 0520. It is worth noting that the last notice is CIT 0519. Officers must remember that each and every citizenship application is unique. Therefore, the types of documents that they request from applicants will tend to vary from one case to the next.
Again, situations might arise where the specific documents requested by the local staff do nothing to resolve the applicant’s residence issues. In this scenario, the local office would need to issue the Residence Questionnaire (RQ).
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) officials would need to indicate on the checklist whether they have requested for additional documents or not. These officials would need to review and analyse all the additional documents provided. Thereafter, the officers would need to write a brief assessment on page 4 of the File Requirements Checklist. However, they would only do so once the additional documents have resolved all the residence issues.
In situations where the residence concerns remain, the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) officials would need to complete the File Preparation and Analysis Template (FPAT). Officers could refer to Annex B for more details.
It is worth noting that the additional documents requested from one case to the next will vary. Therefore, the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) officials might only be able to complete the File Preparation and Analysis Template (FPAT) partially.
Within 45 calendar days, the applicant would need to submit:
- The completed Residence Questionnaire (RQ) and,
- The supporting documents
The applicant would need to send these submissions directly to the local office processing the file. In some situations, it is possible that the Residence Questionnaire (RQ) and the supporting documents will arrive at the local office before the physical file arrives from the Case Processing Centre in Sydney (CPC-S).
In many cases, the Case Processing Centre in Sydney (CPC-S) might issue the Residence Questionnaire (RQ). In each of these cases, the local office would need to match the Residence Questionnaire (RQ) and the supporting documents with the file.
Situations might arise where the applicant does not provide the following documents in the stipulated time:
- The completed Residence Questionnaire (RQ) and,
- The supporting documents
In this scenario, the officers could consider abandoning the application. They could refer to OB 476. OB 476 contains the procedures concerning the abandonment of citizenship applications, where the applicant does not provide a proof of residence.
The Case Processing Centre in Sydney (CPC-S) will include an orange tag in the file. This will help in identifying files where it has requested for the Residence Questionnaire (RQ) upfront. This change in process offers a significant advantage. It enables the local office to review the Residence Questionnaire (RQ) and supporting documents, prior to the applicant appearing for the test or interview with a citizenship official. Therefore, the interviewing official would be able to ask various follow-up questions as and when needed.
In certain cases, the Case Processing Centre in Sydney (CPC-S) might issue the Residence Questionnaire (RQ). In this scenario, the local offices would need to review:
- The completed Residence Questionnaire (RQ) and,
- The supporting documents
They would need to check that these documents cover the relevant period before or after the test or interview with a citizenship official. This highlights the risk that files that have an outstanding Residence Questionnaire (RQ) might still have an inadvertently scheduled test event in the Global Case Management System (GCMS).
To avoid this scenario, the Case Processing Centre in Sydney (CPC-S) would need to use the “On-Hold” feature available in the Global Case Management System (GCMS). Only after this would the Case Processing Centre in Sydney (CPC-S) send the application to the local office. The system would automatically deactivate the “On-Hold” feature in the Global Case Management System (GCMS) after 60 days. Therefore, the local office would need to re-activate it every 60 days. This is especially so if the officers have not received or analysed the Residence Questionnaire (RQ) at that specific point in time.
The local Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) officials would receive and analyse:
- The completed Residence Questionnaire (RQ) and,
- The supporting documents
Only after this would the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) officials manually deactivate the “On-Hold” feature. Thereafter, they would invite the applicant for the test or the interview. The authorities encourage users to use the BF function. This would enable them to follow-up on these cases within 45 calendar days.
- Officers must note that the use of the “On-Hold” feature in the Global Case Management System (GCMS) does not necessarily mean that the processing of the file has ceased
- Instead, this feature is merely an interim tool for officers to use until they can make the necessary changes in the Global Case Management System (GCMS) for preventing the system from scheduling test events for files where the officers are still awaiting the arrival of the Residence Questionnaire (RQ)
The Messaging Process to Applicants
The officers would issue the Residence Questionnaire (RQ) to various applicants. In this situation, the likelihood exists that applicants might require clarifications as to:
- Why the officers issued an Residence Questionnaire (RQ) to them and,
- How the applicants would need to complete the form
Typically, the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) might receive such questions at:
- The Call Centre or,
- The local office
This would usually happen when the officers issue a Residence Questionnaire (RQ) directly to the applicant. This would typically occur in transition cases.
To handle such enquiries, the officers would need to use general messaging text. They could use the following general messaging as a guideline, when the applicant requests for clarifications.
You have been issued a residence questionnaire because additional information and documents are needed in order to assist CIC in determining whether you meet the residence requirement for citizenship.
It is your responsibility to provide the documents that support your residence and ties to Canada.
The questionnaire requests that documents cover the relevant 4-year residence period for your application.
The residence questionnaire provides several examples of documents that may be provided, but each case is different.
The onus is on you to decide which documents to provide.
The New File Preparation Templates (CIT 0509 and CIT 0510)
The authorities have developed two new templates along with the new checklist and the Residence Questionnaire (RQ). Officers could refer to Annex B for details. Officers would need to use the prohibitions template in cases where the applicant:
- Has failed Royal Canadian Mounted Police or immigration clearances and,
- Is subject to either Section 21 or Section 22
The authorities have also prepared a second template for file preparation and analysis. This is the File Analysis Template – CIT 0509. The citizenship officers would need to use this tool when they prepare the files for the judge each time the judge requests for a Residence Questionnaire (RQ). The citizenship officers would also need to complete this template when:
- The case presents various residence concerns and,
- The citizenship officers have requested for additional documents
In addition, the citizenship staff would need to note that the File Preparation and Analysis Template (FPAT) has replaced the previous format of menu. Officers could find this previous format in Appendix A of CP 5.
- Local offices have the discretion for deciding whether the officer can complete the template:
- Before the interview with the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) officials or,
- After the interview with the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) officials
- In instances where the officers prepare the template before the interview with the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) officials, the officers would need to update it based on the outcome of the interview
- Officers also have the discretion to recommend whether or not they need a hearing in most cases where the Residence Questionnaire (RQ) is on file
- Citizenship offices could refer the application to the citizenship judge for a paper review decision
- However, they would only do this if the issues surrounding the residency of the applicant have been addressed:
- Following the interview and,
- Based on the officer’s subsequent analysis of the file i.e. File Preparation and Analysis Template (FPAT)
- In some cases the applicant might have 900 days of physical presence in Canada
- In this scenario, the hearing will be mandatory
- However, the officers would need to mention to the applicant that the applicants have the option of withdrawing their application at the interview stage
- Officers would need to complete the new File Analysis Template or the Prohibitions Template for residence and prohibitions cases where:
- The officer has not yet completed the analysis and,
- The officer has not prepared a memo for the citizenship judge on May 07, 2012
- Officers could also continue to schedule existing residence and prohibitions files for hearing where:
- The officer has not yet completed the analysis and,
- The officer has not prepared a memo for the citizenship judge on May 07, 2012
- In this scenario, the officers do not need to add the new templates
The Process for Existing Residence and Prohibitions Cases as of May 07, 2012
- Situations could arise where the officers had previously referred the application for a hearing for residence
- This would typically happen in cases where the officers have not yet given a Residence Questionnaire (RQ) to the applicant
- In this scenario, the officers would need to issue the new Residence Questionnaire (RQ) to the applicant
- On receiving the Residence Questionnaire (RQ) and the supporting documents, the citizenship officers would need to prepare their memo to the judge using the new File Analysis Template
- The local office does not need to send the applicant a new Residence Questionnaire (RQ) in case the applicant already has one Residence Questionnaire (RQ)
- However, in this case too, the citizenship officers would need to prepare their memo using the new File Analysis Template
- Officers would also need to complete the new Prohibitions Template for existing prohibitions cases that they have not yet referred to the citizenship judge for a hearing
The Process for Existing Residence and Prohibitions Cases on or after May 07, 2012
- Situations might arise where officers identify applicants as being a residence case on and after May 07, 2012
- In this scenario, the officers would need to issue the new Residence Questionnaire (RQ) to the applicant
- On receiving the Residence Questionnaire (RQ) and the supporting documents, the citizenship officers would need to prepare their analysis for the judge using the new File Analysis Template
- The officers would also need to complete the new Prohibitions Template for the prohibitions cases
- Citizenship judges could request for additional information at any time prior to taking a decision on an application
- As a result, citizenship judges might request that an applicant complete and submit the new Residence Questionnaire (RQ) especially if the information submitted in the previous version of the Residence Questionnaire (RQ) turns out to be insufficient
- Once the applicant provides the desired information, the officers would need to use the new template for preparing the file
The Process Applicable in Case Additional Information is Requested During the Hearing
In many cases, officers will flag the cases having residence issues and identify these cases before the file reaches the judge for a decision. However, the likelihood exists that some residence cases might only come to the fore during the time of a hearing. However, these cases would be exceptions to the rule.
On rare occasions, the judge might issue the Residence Questionnaire (RQ) to the applicant during a hearing. In this situation, the judge would return the file to the citizenship officer immediately after the hearing. On receiving the Residence Questionnaire (RQ) and the supporting documents, the citizenship officers would need to review them. Thereafter, they would need to prepare their analysis for the judge using the new File Analysis Template. It is worth noting that officers would need to close this review on a priority basis on receiving the materials from the applicant.
At present, the authorities have given 45 calendar days to the applicant for completing the Residence Questionnaire (RQ). In addition, citizenship judges have 60 days for rendering a decision after a hearing. Therefore, the likelihood exists that the officers would need to suspend the application until they receive the appropriate materials from the applicant.
During the hearing, the citizenship judge would need to inform the applicant that the applicant would need to submit the appropriate documents within the stated timeframe of 45 calendar days for the Residence Questionnaire (RQ). The judge would need to inform the applicant that if the applicant fails to submit the documents within the prescribed timelines, then the authorities would take a decision based on the information present in the file at the time.
Thereafter, the officers would need to follow the existing steps for suspending the processing of the application. After the hearing, the citizenship judge would need to complete and sign the file suspension form i.e. CIT 1-0067B.
The Hearings Cases Where the Applicant Has Not Been Previously Interviewed by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) Staff
The roll-out of the new File Requirements Checklist highlights the need for Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) officials to interview all citizenship applicants. That too, before the citizenship judge takes a decision on the application. In the past, some applicants requiring a hearing would appear for their hearing directly. That too, without having previously attended an interview with a citizenship official during the application process.
As a result, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) officials would need to interview all applicants before the applicants attend a hearing with a citizenship judge. This is effective as of May 07, 2012. Certain applicants would not need to attend an interview immediately before the hearing. However, this is only applicable if the applicants:
- Are appearing for a hearing and,
- Have previously met Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) officials at previous testing or interview sessions
However, it is worth noting that the pre-hearing interview would only need to take place in cases where the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) officials have never seen the applicant at any point of the citizenship process.
The citizenship officer would need to complete the File Requirements Checklist as fully as possible. This is especially so if an officer has interviewed the applicants immediately before their hearing.
In some cases, an officer might interview the applicant immediately before their hearing. In this scenario, the local offices would need to schedule the applicant and the citizenship officers for a sufficient amount of time, prior to the start time of the hearing. This would give ample time for the officer to:
- Complete the applicant’s interview and,
- Complete the new File Requirements Checklist immediately prior to the hearing
The hearing would need to proceed as planned. That too, even if any concerns arise during the course of the officer’s interview of the applicant. The officers would need to note any items of concern in the File Requirements Checklist. In addition, the officers would need to note concerns regarding residence on the file. This is especially so if the officers believe that the applicant would need to submit the Residence Questionnaire (RQ).
The citizenship officer would also need to brief the judge orally before the hearing. Thereafter, the citizenship judge would need to determine at the hearing, whether the applicant needs to submit the Residence Questionnaire (RQ). The officers would need to follow the procedures on suspending applications. However, they would only do this if the citizenship judge issues the Residence Questionnaire (RQ) to the applicant.
Documents and Tools
- Annex A: Instructions – File Requirements Checklist
- Annex B: General Instructions for the File Preparation Templates
- Annex C: Instructions to obtain traveller history reports
- Annex D: Final request for fingerprints
- Annex E: Request for a court information sheet or certificate of conviction
- Consent to disclose personal information
- Template – ICES report request
Source: Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC)
In the second hike in a span of less than 12 months, the Federal Government has increased the application and processing fees for Canadian citizenship from $300 per person to $530 per person. The previous hike in fees had come into effect in Feb, 2014 when the fee was raised from $100 to $350 per person. Coming into effect from 1st January, 2015, the latest hike has brought about a five-fold increase in Canadian citizenship fees since February, 2014.
Justifying the move, the Citizenship and Immigration Department claimed that the increased fee will free taxpayers from shouldering the cost of processing applications from persons desirous of becoming Canadian citizens. The fee is expected to allow the agency to recover the processing cost of $555 per application. In all, the burden on taxpayers is expected to come down by around $41 million per year.
However, the latest increase may cause the financial calculations of applicants to go awry, especially those with large families. Those seeking citizenship are required to pay an additional $100 towards right-of-citizenship fee. This fee is refunded to unsuccessful applicants.
A comparison of Canada’s citizenship fees with the fees charged by other nations indicates that Canada continues to remain an affordable destination for citizenship applicants. As compared to Canada’s $530, the UK charges $1740, the USA charges $743, New Zealand charges $ 426, and Australia charging $264 (all figures in Canadian Dollar).
The UK and Australia review their fees annually, thereby enabling applicants to plan for the increase. Canada, the USA, and New Zealand review the fees as and when needed, which may, as with Canada, result in multiple revisions in a single year.
The year 2015 is going to be more expensive for anyone applying for Canadian citizenship. The government of Canada has increased the application fee for the second time in a year, increasing it from $300 to $530.
In addition to the revised fee of $530, an applicant also needs to pay an additional $100 as right-of-citizenship fee which is returned in case an application for citizenship is not accepted.
The new fees do not apply to those who made their citizenship applications before January 1, 2015.
The government has defended the increase, arguing that most of the cost associated with processing of citizenship applications should be borne by the applicants themselves. According to Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Department, the higher fees will help the government recover most of the application processing costs, which are estimated to be $555 per application. The increase is estimated to lead to a total saving of $41 million for the government.
The citizenship department does acknowledge that this fee hike may exert financial pressure on applicants. “While the analysis assumes that there will not be a reduction in overall demand for citizenship as a result of the fee increase, it is acknowledged that some may be required to delay their application as they will need more time to save for the new fee,” says the citizenship department. “Overall, in the long term, this will likely not have a significant impact on the uptake for citizenship.”
Last year’s increase of citizenship application fee from $100 to $300 was the first ever increase since 1995. The government was then criticized for bringing in the ad hoc fee increase without any sound justification. At that time the government believed that the fee increase didn’t have to cover the full cost of application processing as it would impose “too much hardship on applicants”.
The opposition has criticized the increase in citizenship fees, saying that it was unfair to do so especially when applicants have to wait for years before they receive citizenship. Statistics show that by 2013 end, there were at least 400,000 pending applications.
However the government has promised to significantly improve the processing time of citizenship applications and also to clear up the backlog as soon as possible, with the citizenship department committing to reduce citizenship application waiting times to less than 12 months within the next fiscal year.