In September 2023, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) introduced significant changes aimed at making the process of obtaining Canadian citizenship more accessible and accommodating for certain applicants. Here’s a breakdown of the latest updates:
- Compassionate Ground Waivers: IRCC has expanded the scope of waivers, now considering non-medical compassionate grounds. These changes make it easier for some individuals to meet the criteria for Canadian citizenship. The new measures include official language and knowledge of Canada waivers for citizenship applicants between the ages of 18 and 55 who fall into specific categories. Additionally, accommodations have been introduced to help applicants meet the eligibility requirements for their citizenship applications.
- 2. Accommodations for Eligibility: If an applicant meets all other citizenship requirements but requires additional support, IRCC can provide accommodations. These accommodations may involve making in-person event sites wheelchair and service animal accessible and offering interpretation services. They may also encompass alternative study guide formats, oral or Braille versions of the citizenship knowledge exam, or extra time for tests. Waivers come into play when accommodations cannot meet an applicant’s needs due to specific conditions outlined in the Citizenship Act.
- Oath of Citizenship Waiver: For applicants aged 14 and older who lack the capacity to understand the significance of the oath of citizenship due to mental incapacity, a waiver is now available. This aligns with the existing provision for applicants aged 55 or older.
- Language and Knowledge Requirement Waivers: Applicants between the ages of 18 and 54 typically need to take the citizenship test and demonstrate language skills in English or French. However, those with medical or non-medical circumstances that meet IRCC standards can now request waivers. These circumstances include severe medical conditions, physical or developmental disabilities, mental disabilities, trauma from wartime or other conditions, low literacy or education levels in the first language, and similar circumstances that warrant a waiver.
- Invalid Reasons for Waiver: IRCC has clarified that time and cost are not valid reasons for requesting a waiver. For example, applicants cannot seek a waiver due to a lack of time to study for the citizenship test or an inability to cover the cost of the language test.
- 6. Multiple Waiver Requests: Applicants are allowed to request waivers for more than one citizenship requirement based on their individual situations. This could include waivers for the test, oath, or language, depending on their specific circumstances.
- Requesting a Waiver: To request one or multiple waivers for your citizenship application, you can use the Waiver Request form (CIT 0116) and provide an explanation of why you need a waiver for language or knowledge. Additionally, IRCC has updated the Medical Opinion Form for Citizenship Waiver (CIT 0547) to enable eligible applicants to seek waivers on medical grounds.
- Waiver Assessment: The Case Management Branch (CMB) will now be responsible for making decisions regarding knowledge, language, and oath waivers. Applicants will no longer be required to attend a waiver hearing. CMB decision-makers will rely on supporting documentation to assess and determine the acceptance or rejection of waiver requests. The Centralized Network (CN) will send files containing waiver requests directly to the CMB, replacing the previous use of the Domestic Network (DN).
These changes represent a significant shift in how Canadian citizenship applications are processed, making it more accessible for those with specific needs and circumstances. It simplifies the path to Canadian citizenship and provides greater flexibility for eligible applicants.