How to Apply for a Citizenship Grant (17:VI)
|This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by the Law Students' Legal Advice Program on July 29, 2022.|
A. The Process
1. Apply Online, If You Can
Some applicants can now apply online to become Canadian citizens. IRCC is working to make sure that more people can apply online. Check if you can apply online at the IRCC website.
2. Apply on Paper
If you apply on paper, your citizenship application must be mailed in using the proper forms provided by IRCC. The new forms are easy to understand and to complete. To order a citizenship application, consult the IRCC website see Section II.B: Resources). In-person application assistance is not available from IRCC.
The IRCC publishes Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship, a book that gives general information regarding the right to vote in elections and run for elected office, voting procedures, and chief characteristics of Canadian physical and political geography. It will help the applicant answer questions in the written test he or she must take to become a citizen. This book is mailed to the applicant after the application for a citizenship grant has been received at the case processing centre. Alternatively, Discover Canada is available on IRCC’s website and a link to it is provided in a letter from IRCC.
An application should be completed as fully as possible. Only the full legal names of the person seeking citizenship will appear on the certificate of citizenship. The name on the permanent resident document will appear on the certificate of citizenship unless legal name change documents have been submitted.
3. Materials Required with Application
Individuals should carefully fill in all the forms they receive in the mail or from the website. Those forms will be the most current and can be found at: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/citizenship/become.asp.
The application will list the documents that are needed, which will vary depending on the applicant’s particular situation. Any document that is not in English or French must be accompanied by the English or French translation and by an affidavit from the person who completed the translation. Documents that are usually required with all applications are:
- a) A birth certificate or other satisfactory proof of the applicant’s date and place of birth;
- b) Record of Landing or Permanent Resident Card;
- c) Satisfactory language evidence;
- d) Satisfactory proof of entry into Canada and of lawful admission for permanent residence. This could include passport(s) or a Certificate of Identity;
- e) A Certificate of Marriage or legal name change document if the applicant’s name has recently changed;
- f) Photocopies of all valid and expired passports or travel documents you had in the past 5 years. If you don’t have these documents or there are gaps in time between travel documents, an explanation will be needed; and
- g) Photocopies of personal identity documents: e.g. driver’s license, health insurance card, senior citizen’s card, age of majority card.
In addition to these documents, the applicant must supply two identical photographs that:
- a) have been taken within the last six months.
- b) The photographs must show the full front view of the head, with the face in the middle of the photograph, and include the top of the shoulders.
- c) must be 50 mm (2″) by 70 mm (2 3/4").
- d) The size of the head, from chin to crown, must be between 31 mm (1 1/4″) and 36 mm (1 7/16″).
- e) Crown means the top of the head or (if obscured by hair or a head covering) where the top of the head or skull would be if it could be seen.
The fee is $630 for an adult grant. This amount includes a $530 processing fee and a $100 Right of Citizenship fee. The fee for children under 18 is only the $100 processing fee. The processing fee is not refundable unless the applicant withdraws his or her application before processing begins. The Right of Citizenship fee is refundable if the applicant is not approved for citizenship. Fees change regularly. The most recent information about applicable fees may be obtained from the IRCC website (see Section II.B: Resources); see also the Citizenship Regulations, SOR/93-246 in which the fees are proscribed.
If you go to the IRCC website, there is a useful fee list, which may be used to determine the applicable fees for all applicants.
Payment must be made online at ircc.canada.ca/english/information/fees/pay.asp.
- NOTE: In January 2019, a Federal Court in Ottawa (Tammy Lynn Mayes and Justice for Children and Youth v The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration) ruled that a Minister may exercise discretion and waive the applicable processing fees to alleviate cases of statelessness or of special and unusual hardship or to reward services of an exceptional value to Canada.
After the application form is correctly completed and the client collects all the required materials (documents and photographs), the form, all documents, and fee receipt should be sent to the Case Processing Centre in Sydney, Nova Scotia. If a family wishes to be processed together, all applications should be submitted in the same envelope. Starting from June 3, 2013, all family members who apply together on one citizenship application will no longer be approved at the same time. Applicants who pass the test will now be processed independent of other family members.
See also the IRCC website: www.cic.gc.ca/english/citizenship/become-how.asp
6. After Filing the Application
- NOTE: It is anticipated that the minimum and maximum age requirements will change soon. Users of this service are advised to seek current information from the IRCC website on the age requirements.
Once the Registrar receives the application and supporting documents, the Department will begin processing the application and determine whether the applicant meets the requirements of the Act. When it has been determined that an applicant is eligible to apply for citizenship, and they have passed the required clearances, they are scheduled for a citizenship test and an interview with a citizenship official. If the applicant is between the ages of 18 and 54, he or she must pass a test about Canada’s history, geography and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. The applicant is given at least seven days (usually two - three weeks) written notice prior to the date of the examination. If the applicant is 55 years or older he or she does not have to write the test, however, they are still required to attend an interview.
Where an applicant has failed to provide all materials relating to the application, the Registrar will give notice to the applicant to provide the appropriate materials. If the applicant fails to comply with this notice, the Registrar will send a second notice. Failure to comply with the second notice will result in the abandonment of the application, and the applicant will have to file a new application.
7. Processing Time
According to the IRCC website, the total processing time for a routine application for citizenship varies (Please refer to the IRCC website to see current processing times). An application is considered routine if:
- a) All the necessary documents and correct fees are received by IRCC,
- b) The applicant meets the residence requirement,
- c) The applicant is not subject to any immigration, security or criminal prohibitions,
- d) The applicant passes the citizenship test, and
- e) The applicant does not need a hearing with a citizenship judge.
- NOTE: Due to COVID-19, IRCC processing times have increased, and there is limited capacity to process citizenship applications and provide processing timelines.
- NOTE: If a candidate has an emergency, they can request urgent processing of their citizenship application. More information can be found on the IRCC website.
B. The Citizenship Interview and Test
1. Interview and Test
- NOTE: Due to COVID-19, citizenship tests and interviews are now conducted online. More information can be found on the IRCC website.
All adult applicants and some minor applicants will be scheduled for a meeting with a citizenship officer, which is generally referred to as an “interview”. This interview happens the same day that the citizenship test is scheduled, and is conducted at the test location. IRCC is now moving towards online citizenship tests, rather than in-person ones. In that case, your interview may be conducted at a later date.
For the interview, the applicant must bring with them their passports and other documents that they provided as part of their citizenship application. They should be prepared to speak briefly with the citizenship officer conducting the Interview in English or French, and the officer may ask questions about the application (such as requesting clarification on travel dates or other facts that are material to the application).
Where an applicant meets a minimum language requirement (which are assessed at the interview), meets the residency requirements, and has no suspected prohibitions, he or she will be required to take a written examination if his or her age is between 18 and 54 years. Applicants may be able to have an oral test instead if they have problems like difficulty in reading and writing in English or French. The examination consists of multiple-choice questions and true or false questions. It tests an applicant’s knowledge of Canada, including aspects of history, geography, economy, government, laws, symbols, and citizens’ rights and responsibilities. There will be 20 questions and an applicant needs to get 15 correct answers to pass the test. It is mandatory for citizenship applicants to correctly answer two questions related to s 15(a) of the Citizenship Regulations and one question related to s 15(b). Subsection 15(a) sets out the right to vote and run for elected office and s 15(b) deals with voting procedures. Applicants who fail their first citizenship test, but otherwise met all other criteria, have the opportunity to rewrite the test about 4-8 weeks later before being referred to a citizenship officer. If the applicant passes the test, he or she returns later for the citizenship ceremony.
Questions in the citizenship test are based on the information provided in a free booklet called Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship. IRCC will send this booklet to applicants once their applications for citizenship are filed. A PDF version of the booklet can also be downloaded from the IRCC website.
The test takes place in a relatively informal environment where the applicants are required to write the exam on their laps. The majority of people find the 30 minutes provided to be sufficient to finish the exam. However, people who lack adequate knowledge of English or French could experience difficulties with passing the test.
- NOTE: A local non-profit organization, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, publishes The Citizenship Handbook, a free guide intended to help introduce new Canadians to the country’s political process. The handbook is available in English, Chinese, Spanish, Vietnamese, and Punjabi. Call (604) 687-2919 for more information.
2. Citizenship Judge
In situations where the person is illiterate, does not meet the residency requirement, is suspected of some prohibition, or fails the written test, he or she will be requested to attend an oral hearing with a Citizenship Judge. The oral interview offers a second chance to those who fail the written examination. It is to be noted that Citizenship Judges are Canadian Federal Government employees and are not appointed through the methods used for other Federal Judge positions.
It should be noted that diversion to a citizenship judge can add significant time to processing and is not always successful, so if the client can avoid this through adequate preparation they should do so.
The purpose of the hearing is to determine whether or not the applicant fulfils the requirements of the Citizenship Act to become a citizen. Friends and relatives of the applicant may ask to attend the hearing but it is the judge’s discretion whether to allow them to attend. Applicants should bring all relevant documents to the hearing, such as passport(s), IMM1000 (record of landing), confirmation of permanent residence, permanent resident card, separation or divorce papers, and any additional proof of residency in Canada.
During the interview, the judge will ask the applicant simple oral questions based on the instructional materials to decide if the applicant has adequate knowledge of French or English. The applicant must show that his or her vocabulary in the language is appropriate for conducting day-to-day activities with the general public and that he or she comprehends simple, spoken sentences in the past, present, and future tenses and can express him or herself similarly. The judge will also evaluate whether the applicant has adequate knowledge of Canada and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship, especially the right to vote and participate in the country’s political life.
If a client is nervous or needs help preparing for the interview, various school boards, community colleges, and voluntary organizations, such as the Immigration Services Society of B.C., provide training courses for this purpose. This series of learning classes, held once or twice weekly, is conducted in English or bilingually, so a basic understanding of English is essential to benefit from it. Applicants may phone those organizations for more information.
The applicant must inform the citizenship office if he or she is unable to attend the scheduled hearing. If the applicant does not appear, the file will be held for 60 days. If, at the end of 60 days, the applicant has still not contacted the citizenship office and provided a valid reason for failing to show up, a second notice is sent to the applicant by registered mail. If the applicant still fails to show; the file will be considered abandoned. In the event of abandonment, the applicant must make a new application and pay a new fee, as no further action will be taken with respect to the old one.
C. The Oath of Citizenship and the Citizenship Ceremony
- NOTE: Due to COVID-19, all in-person citizenship ceremonies are cancelled. IRCC is inviting applications to video oath ceremonies instead. More information can be found at the IRCC website.
If an application is approved, successful applicants are notified in writing to attend a formal ceremony to receive their citizenship certificates. Most ceremonies are held at the citizenship office. Successful applicants must bring their original (or certified) Immigration Record of Landing (not a photocopy or reproduction) or Permanent Resident card and the Records of any minor children who are becoming citizens with them. Immediately before taking the Oath of Citizenship, the Record of Landing will be stamped, updating the applicant’s status from permanent resident to Canadian citizen.
If the Record of Landing has been lost or stolen, the applicant must notify the police immediately. When successful applicants come to their ceremony, they must bring satisfactory evidence that they have reported the loss or theft to the police, and will also be required to complete a statutory declaration.
- NOTE: If the applicant forgets to bring the Record of Landing or evidence of a reported loss or theft, local office staff will make arrangements for the applicant to return with the necessary papers to another ceremony or, where applicable, exercise their discretion to allow the applicant to participate in a ceremony with the understanding that he or she will become a citizen, but only receive the commemorative document at that time. In that case, the applicant’s file with the citizenship certificate will be kept in the local office until the applicant brings or sends the Record of Landing to be stamped. Citizenship certificates not picked up within a reasonable time will be destroyed. The client will need to apply for a new certificate.
Citizenship ceremonies are open to the public. Applicants who are 14 years of age or over on the day they are granted citizenship are required to take the oath of citizenship, which is repeated after a judge.
- OATH OR AFFIRMATION OF CITIZENSHIP
- “I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada, including the Constitution, which recognizes and affirms the Aboriginal and treaty rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, and fulfil my duties as a Canadian Citizen.”
D. Judicial Reviews
Where an application has not been approved, the applicant will be notified of the decision, the reasons for the decision, and his or her right to judicial review. All judicial reviews are made to the Federal Court of Canada. If an applicant decides to seek judicial review, a Notice of Application must be filed in the Court Registry within 30 days of the date the notice of refusal was received. All decisions of the Federal Court are final. However, applicants are free to reapply at any time.
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