Operational Bulletin 476-B – August 07, 2013
This Operational Bulletin (OB) amends the instructions of the original OB 476. It also introduces new procedures concerning the administrative closure of citizenship applications.
This OB outlines new procedures concerning the abandonment of citizenship applications. This typically occurs when applicants fail to provide the documents that provide proof of residence. It also introduces procedures for the closure of citizenship application files. Officers would close such files when applicants fail to show up for tests or interviews with a citizenship official.
The objective behind these procedural instructions is to close certain citizenship applications. This could be because:
- The applicants are not actively pursuing their applications or,
- The applicants have not complied with requests for providing more information related to their residence
If left pending, these applications would remain open for indefinitely long stretches of time. Officers can close such cases more quickly under the new procedures. This would also mean that they could close more files before the files reach the citizenship judge.
Citizenship Tests and Interviews with a Citizenship Official
Applicants bear the entire responsibility for:
- Attending their appointment to write the citizenship test and / or,
- Being interviewed by a citizenship official
Applicants need to complete these activities so that the Department can proceed with processing the individual applications.
The Department would not be able to complete all the necessary enquiries in case applicants do not complete these activities. Consequently, the Department would not be able to prepare the application for a decision by a citizenship judge.
Documentation to Support Residence in Canada
Applicants seeking Canadian citizenship need to provide all required information to support their application. The citizenship judge would review all the information provided. Then, the citizenship judge would render an informed decision on the application status. Therefore, applicants bear the responsibility for satisfying the citizenship judge that they meet all the requirements for Canadian citizenship – on a balance of probabilities.
Since November 15, 2012, the Department has deemed certain applications as abandoned. This concerns those applications where:
- The applicant has not submitted a Residence Questionnaire (RQ) despite,
- Receiving two requests from the Department
The provisions of CP 13 currently outline two scenarios, where abandonment procedures come into effect. They declare that abandonment can only occur in scenarios where:
- Applicants fail to attend a hearing with the citizenship judge after two notices (according to subsection R11(9) of the Citizenship Regulations) and,
- Applicants fail to attend a citizenship ceremony after one notice (according to subsection R23(1) of the Citizenship Regulations – this also applies to minor applicants of age 14 years and older)
In these situations, the Department does not send any further notice to the applicants. Instead, the Department simply records the applications as abandoned applications.
However, certain revisions came into force with the amendments to the Citizenship Regulations on April 17, 2009. These amendments supported the implementation of Bill C-37 (2008), An Act to Amend the Citizenship Act, c. 14, SC 2008. These amendments concerned the revision of the documentary requirements for citizenship grants. One of these amendments required that the applicant would need to provide documentary evidence of residence in Canada.
Certain situations might arise where applicants would not be able to provide documentary evidence that supports their residence in Canada (i.e. RQ and supporting evidence). In these cases, the Department does not need to schedule a hearing with a citizenship judge for these applicants. Instead, the Department has the authority to classify these applications as abandoned applications. Such applicants would then be subject to the procedures prescribed in Section R11.
- The new regulations that require evidence of residence are:
- R3(4)(d) for Adult Grants and,
- R8(2)(f) for Resumption Applicants
The New Procedures when Applicants do not Provide RQs – Effective Immediately
Officers would need to follow these procedures when applicants do not provide RQs, even after requests from the Case Processing Centre in Sydney (CPC-S) or the local office.
Since November 15, 2012, officers have registered citizenship applications as abandoned. Officers take this step in case the applicant has not responded to procedural requests for providing additional information that supports the applicant’s residence in Canada. This is also as per the provisions of subsection A5(1).
Additionally, since May 07, 2012, the CPC-S has been issuing the RQ directly to certain applicants. The local office also continues to issue RQs currently. Therefore, applicants who want the local responsible to process their applications need to return:
- The completed RQ and,
- Any supporting documents
Applicants would need to submit these documents to the local office.
Officers need to follow certain procedures under the provisions of R11. These are:
- Officers would ask applicants to submit an RQ and any supporting documents that establish residence
- This is in accordance with the guidelines of R11
- Officers send this notice to the latest known address of applicants
- Applicants have a timeframe of 45 calendar days to provide the completed RQ and all supporting documents
- Officers can give a grace period of one week to the applicant for providing the completed RQ and supporting documents, once the 45-calendar-day deadline lapses
- Once the grace period is over, the local office will issue a final notice to the applicant by registered mail or an equivalent medium
- This final notice would inform the applicants that they have an additional 30 calendar days to provide the RQ and other supporting documents
- In case the applicant does not comply with Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s (CIC) request for documents after the 30 calendar day deadline, the local office would record the application as an abandoned application
- Thereafter, the local office would not take any further action on the file
- The local office would maintain a record of all the copies of the RQ notices sent to the applicant
- The local office would keep a copy of all the RQ notices on the file
- CIC staff would enter the date on which the initial RQ letter was sent, along with other applicant-specific information
- CIC staff would check the Field Operations Support System (FOSS) and the Global Case Management System (GCMS) to verify whether the applicant has given information of any change of address
- Only after verifying this detail would CIC staff mail the second notice to the applicant
The New Procedures Applicable for Pending Applications – Effective Immediately
These abandonment procedures apply to all cases where:
- The applicant has applied on or after April 17, 2009 and,
- The local office has requested for an RQ but has not received it
Local offices could review their hearing inventory for cases that fall into this scenario.
The local office could send one final notice to such applicants. It could request the applicants to provide the RQ and other supporting documents. This is according to the GCMS form CIT 0513. If applicants do not provide the RQ and other supporting documents, the local office can abandon these applications.
- This procedure does not apply to those cases where the applicant is currently or was previously scheduled to attend a hearing
The New Procedures Applicable for a Test and / or an Interview with a Citizenship Official (Effective September 03, 2013)
Prior to OB 476, applicants who could not attend their test and/or interview with CIC staff could be:
- Scheduled for a second test or interview session or,
- Scheduled for a hearing with the citizenship judge, in certain cases
Certain pilot procedures came about through the first iteration of OB 476. Under these procedures, officers could trigger an RQ if applicants failed to show up at two citizenship tests or interviews. Currently, this process is not applicable.
New Procedures – Administrative Closure of Applications
Effective September 03, 2013, the local office would send applicants one test or interview notice. The local office has the authority to close this application administratively if:
- The applicant does not show up at the appointed place and time and,
- The applicant does not provide an acceptable reason for this absence
At this point, the amendments to the citizenship test and interview notice come into effect. Officers would need to use this notice henceforth. They would also need to note the following process:
- The amended test or interview notice informs applicants that they have 60 days from the date of the first appointment to provide CIC with an acceptable reason for the applicant’s failure to attend the test or citizenship interview
- The applicant would need to provide an acceptable reason to the CIC within 60 days
- In case the applicant fails to provide an acceptable reason to the CIC within 60 days, the CIC would mail the attached final notice letter to the applicant
- This final notice letter instructs the applicant to contact the CIC if they have an acceptable reason for failing to attend their test or citizenship interview
- The final notice letter gives applicants a deadline of 30 days for sending their response
- The CIC can close the application immediately in the GCMS if:
- The 30-day period has lapsed and,
- The applicant has not provided any response
- This new procedure replaces (day forward) the temporary pilot procedure mentioned in OB 476
- According to the temporary pilot procedure, officers needed to mail an RQ to applicants who failed to show up for two citizenship tests and interviews
- Officers would need to process cases where an RQ was already issued in accordance with the previous pilot procedures
- Officers would also need to complete cases where an RQ was already issued as per the instructions mentioned in the initial iteration of OB 476
- There is no change to the abandonment process for hearing no-shows
The Process Applicable to Pending Applications
- These procedures are also applicable to pending applications
- Officers can remove all cases currently set aside for a hearing from the hearing inventory in case the applicant has not shown up for a citizenship test or interview
- The same procedures apply in these cases for limiting the risk of litigation. These include:
- Officers would need to mail the new test or interview notice to the applicant and,
- They would also need to mail the final notice letter to the applicant
- The re-testing policy would apply in case:
- The applicant attends the test or interview with a citizenship official but,
- The applicant does not clear the citizenship test
- According to the re-testing policy, applicants would need to re-write the citizenship test
- Applicants would need to continue through to the hearing process in case they were previously or are currently scheduled for a hearing
Modifications to the Re-testing Procedures (Effective September 03, 2013)
Officers have made certain amendments to the re-testing procedures.
- Officers have the authority to apply administrative file closure procedures in cases where the applicant has not shown up for a re-test session
- Consequently, the CIC has amended the re-test notice in a manner similar to the new citizenship test or interview notice
- Officers can send the new file closure notice to applicants who fail to attend their re-test session
- These procedures would not be applicable in cases where:
- Officers issued an RQ due to the applicability of the previous pilot procedures or,
- The applicant has previously been scheduled for a hearing
The Procedure for File Closure in the Global Case Management System
- Local offices would need to follow the deadline listed in the final file closure notice
- They must close the file immediately in the GCMS
- Then, they must generate a note that mentions the reason for file closure
- This note would help executives in the Call Centre in case the applicants call to obtain information concerning their applications
- Local offices would also need to close applications abandoned because applicants did not submit the RQ upon request immediately in the GCMS
- Officers would need to enter “No-show” in the Discontinuation Reason field in the GCMS (if the file was closed because a test or interview no-show)
- In such cases, officers would enter the case note “APPLICATION CLOSED – TEST / INTERVIEW NO-SHOW”
- Officers would need to enter “ABANDONED” in the Discontinuation Reason field in the GCMS (if the file was abandoned because the applicant did not provide an RQ)
- In such cases, officers would enter the case note “ABANDONED – RQ NOT PROVIDED”
Exceptions and Flexibility
In some situations, officers would need to provide some leeway to applicants. This would typically be in situations where the applicants have acceptable reasons for failing to:
- Respond to requests for additional information within the prescribed timelines or
- Attend a test or an interview with a citizenship official
In these situations, officers could grant additional time to the applicants for:
- Submitting the RQ or
- Rescheduling the test or the interview
However, the officers would only permit this if the applicant provides the officers with:
- A reasonable explanation and,
- Proof or evidence to support their explanation
Section 6.5 of CP 13 mentions some examples of acceptable and unacceptable explanations concerning a delay in:
- Responding to requests for additional information within the prescribed timelines or
- Attending a test or an interview with a citizenship official
Examples of acceptable explanations include:
- The applicant was away for an extended period to care for a dying parent
- The applicant was unable to appear because of health constraints following an illness or an accident
- The applicant has requested a third party for some documents and is awaiting the arrival of these documents e.g. a Record of Movement
- Other extenuating circumstances that the CIC deems as reasonable such as the applicant leaving the country to settle family or business affairs arising from a death in the family
Examples of unacceptable explanations include:
- The applicant lives or continually travels abroad and was waiting until the next trip to Canada
Certain situations might arise where the officers might find it hard to assess the reasons declared by an applicant. Officers would need to exercise discretion in these circumstances. They would also need to exercise common sense and their good judgment.
In case a citizenship officer is not sure of whether to initiate abandonment or administrative closure procedures or not, the officer could see advice from [email protected].
A situation might also arise where an applicant submits an RQ without submitting other supporting documentation. Officers must avoid abandoning applications were the applicants mention that they are awaiting the arrival of specific documents from a third party e.g. a Record of Movement etc.
Returning the File to the Sydney Case Processing Centre for Application Retirement
Officers would need to ensure that they take all appropriate steps before they return a file to CPC-S for:
- Application retirement and,
- Reimbursement of the right of citizenship fee
The steps they need to verify include:
- Sending notices to the most recent known address of the applicant
- Documenting all the steps they have taken on the file
- Retaining all applications that they have administratively closed or abandoned (because of the procedures outlined in this OB) for a period of six months, to handle circumstances like:
- Reactivation of the case or,
Source: Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC)