Operational Bulletin 244 - October 13, 2010

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by IRCC staff. It is posted on the department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

Amendments to the Citizenship Regulations and Updated Guidelines Regarding the Citizenship Test

Issue

The purpose of this Operational Bulletin (OB) is to provide an overview of the updated Citizenship Regulations which were published in the Canada Gazette on October 13, 2010. Updated procedures based on these new Regulations are effective as of October 14, 2010. This document also provides updated procedures for the citizenship test.

Background

The launch of the new citizenship study guide, Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship necessitated revision to the citizenship test to enable applicants to be tested on the new information contained in the study guide. Since March 15, 2010, an interim citizenship test based on the new study guide and existing Regulations has been in place. A Regulatory amendment was required to enable a more complete assessment of an applicant’s knowledge of the contents of this new study guide and of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. New Regulations were signed by the Governor General on September 30, 2010, and were published in the Canada Gazette on October 13, 2010. Following these new Regulations, new procedures have been developed for the new citizenship test based on the amended Regulations and are effective as of October 14, 2010.

The new test, based on the new study guide, is part of overall efforts at Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to strengthen the value of citizenship and to emphasize the integrity of the testing process. The citizenship test is also one of the tools used to assist in determining whether an applicant has an adequate knowledge of English or French.

Section 15 of the Citizenship Regulations outlines the criteria to be used in determining whether or not an applicant demonstrates an adequate knowledge of Canada and of the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship.

Updated Regulations

On September 30, 2010, regulatory amendments came into force that require applicants to successfully demonstrate a broad knowledge of Canada and of the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship. In essence, these updated Regulations allow CIC the flexibility to test applicants on a greater variety of topics included in Discover Canada and provides flexibility in the development of future questions.

With the coming into force of these new Regulations, applicants are considered to have an adequate knowledge of Canada if they demonstrate that they know the national symbols of Canada and have a general understanding of the following subjects:

  • the chief characteristics of Canadian political and military history;
  • the chief characteristics of Canadian social and cultural history;
  • the chief characteristics of Canadian physical and political geography;
  • the chief characteristics of the Canadian system of government as a constitutional monarchy; and
  • characteristics of Canada, other than those referred to above.

Also, applicants are considered to have an adequate knowledge of the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship if they demonstrate they have a general understanding of the following subjects:

  • participation in the Canadian democratic process;
  • participation in Canadian society, including volunteerism, respect for the environment and the protection of Canada’s natural, cultural and architectural heritage;
  • respect for the rights, freedoms and obligations set out in the laws governing Canada; and
  • any of the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship other than those referred to above.

These regulatory changes promote an enhanced understanding of Canadian identity and values and of the responsibilities of citizenship.

Mandatory questions no longer in effect

Previously, the citizenship test contained certain mandatory questions which needed to be answered correctly by applicants in order to pass the test. The three mandatory questions tested applicants on the following:

  • the right to vote;
  • the right to run for elected office; and
  • voting procedures related to elections.

However, because Section 15 of the Citizenship Regulations now specifies that applicants are required to have sufficient knowledge of a broad range of topics, the inclusion of mandatory questions in the citizenship test will no longer be in effect as of October 14, 2010.

Procedure

Previously, applicants who failed the citizenship test because they incorrectly answered one (or more) of the mandatory questions, were scheduled either to rewrite the test, or to appear for a hearing with a citizenship judge.

At the time these new procedures came into effect, some applicants who failed the test for incorrectly answering one (or more) of the mandatory questions, may have already been scheduled for a retest or hearing. Others may not yet have been scheduled.

The following provides instructions for each of these scenarios:

  • Applicants not yet scheduled for a hearing or retest as of October 14:
     
    Applicants who have not yet been scheduled for a hearing or retest and who only failed the test for incorrectly answering one (or more) of the mandatory questions, no longer need to be scheduled for a retest or hearing (with the exception of those who were originally referred to a hearing for another reason).
     
    Applications falling under this scenario must instead be forwarded to a citizenship judge for paper review and decision.
  • Applicants already scheduled for a retest as of October 14:
     
    Where the applicant has been scheduled to rewrite the test on or after October 14 and where test notices have already been mailed, applicants must be contacted and advised that their retest is cancelled. Applications in this situation should also be forwarded to a citizenship judge for a paper review and decision.
     
    A brief Global Case Management Systems (GCMS) case note must also be added stating the reason for cancelling the retest.
  • Applicants already scheduled for a hearing as of October 14:
     
    Where the applicant has been scheduled for a hearing with a citizenship judge on or after October 14 and where hearing notices have already been mailed, the citizenship judge must be consulted to determine whether they are willing to conduct a paper review or continue with the hearing. If the judge agrees to a paper review, the client must be contacted and advised that their hearing is cancelled.
     
    A brief GCMS case note must also be added stating the reason for cancelling the hearing.

Administering the citizenship test

Local offices are to continue administering the citizenship test as per the current procedure. However, because all of the questions on the citizenship test will now be of equal value, all applicants who receive a grade of 15 questions out of 20 or higher on the citizenship test will pass. However, it is still the citizenship judge who makes a decision on the application.

Applicants who previously failed the citizenship test because they did not receive the minimum grade of 15/20 must continue to be scheduled for a retest or a hearing, as the case may be.

Applicants will continue to be given 30 minutes in order to complete the test.

Distribution of the citizenship test to local offices

On September 21, 2010, a new and more efficient process for the distribution of updated citizenship tests from NHQ to local offices was announced. Local offices will now receive copies of the new citizenship test by secure email. Local offices should have already received the updated test and correction sheet by this method.

CIC will continue to closely monitor the citizenship test. Test questions will be revised, if necessary, based on the data collected. For this reason, it is important that local offices continue to gather the requested data from NHQ.

Retesting policy

With the implementation of the interim citizenship test in March 2010, several transition measures were introduced in order to ensure the shift was as smooth as possible. One of these measures is the retesting policy, which aims to minimize the number of hearings during the transition period and which allows the new test questions to be monitored and adjusted as necessary. As data on test questions continues to be required, the retesting policy will be extended until further notice.

Note: Only clients who fail the written test and who are not flagged for other issues (i.e., language, residence, criminality, etc.) are scheduled to write the test a second time before being referred for a hearing with a citizenship judge. In addition, clients who do not show-up for their retest should be referred to a citizenship judge for a hearing.

Local offices were advised on August 17, 2010, to resume sending test notices to applicants a minimum of 14 days before the date of the event. This policy remains in effect and applies to clients writing the test for the first or second time.

Retesting shall take place a minimum of two months from the date the applicant wrote their first citizenship test. Test notices may be sent before the two month period has elapsed, provided there is a two month gap between the first test and the retest.

Hearing notices for applicants must continue to be sent a minimum of 4 weeks in advance until further notice.

Attachments

Annex ARewriting Citizenship Test:

A copy of the attached Rewriting Citizenship Test Notice (Annex A) must be mailed with each Notice to Appear for a Citizenship Test when it is a second test appearance. The previous Rewriting Notice must no longer be used.

Annex BLanguage Assessment Notices:

In early September, CIC offices began including an annex to citizenship test and hearing notices informing applicants of how their language ability will be assessed. Minor corrections have been made to this annex and the new Annex B must be included with all test and hearing notices (except for retests, where Annex A is to be used).

Annex CAcknowledgement Letter:

Furthermore, as of September 20, 2010, the Case Processing Centre of Sydney has been including a similar annex to grant acknowledgement letters. Minor corrections have also been made to this annex (Annex C) and it must be attached to all grant acknowledgement letters.

Annex DTest and Hearing Notice Referring to Discover Canada:

With the implementation of Discover Canada, local offices were instructed to include a document referencing this new guide in their test and hearing notices (see Annex D). However, since all acknowledgement letters have been updated, the distribution of this notice can now stop.


Annex A – Rewriting Citizenship Test

NOTICE – Rewriting Citizenship Test

This is to inform you that you failed your citizenship test and you have been scheduled to appear for another citizenship test.

You will have a second opportunity to demonstrate that you know the national symbols of Canada and have a general understanding of the following subjects:

  • the chief characteristics of Canadian political and military history;
  • the chief characteristics of Canadian social and cultural history;
  • the chief characteristics of Canadian physical and political geography;
  • the chief characteristics of the Canadian system of government as a constitutional monarchy; and
  • characteristics of Canada, other than those referred to above.

You will also have to demonstrate that you have an adequate knowledge of the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship, which you can do by having a general understanding of the following subjects:

  • participation in the Canadian democratic process;
  • participation in Canadian society, including volunteerism, respect for the environment and the protection of Canada’s natural, cultural and architectural heritage;
  • respect for the rights, freedoms and obligations set out in the laws governing Canada; and
  • any of the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship other than those referred to above.

If you fail the test, you will receive a notice by mail indicating the date and time of your oral interview with a citizenship judge.

The knowledge questions will be based on the content from the study guide entitled Discover Canada.

If you have any questions, please contact the Call Centre at 1-888-242-2100.

Your language abilities

The citizenship knowledge test as well as your interaction with Citizenship and Immigration Canada staff will be relied on in assessing whether you have an adequate ability to communicate in either English or French.

The criteria used to assess whether you have an adequate knowledge of either English or French is based on your ability to understand basic spoken statements and questions, and your ability to communicate basic information, or answers in response to these questions.

For example, as part of your interaction with departmental staff, your written test, and/or your interview with a citizenship judge, you will be expected to:

  • Answer simple questions on familiar topics using short sentences
  • Demonstrate adequate vocabulary for basic everyday communication
  • Tell a simple story about everyday activities
  • Speak about something you did in the past (or will do in the future)
  • Demonstrate understanding of factual details
  • Give simple everyday instructions and directions
  • Express satisfaction or dissatisfaction

Your ability to meet the language requirement will be assessed based on whether you understand the statements and questions asked, and your ability to communicate your answers in response.


Annex B – Attachment to Test and Hearing Notices (not for retests)

NOTICE

Your language abilities

The citizenship knowledge test as well as your interaction with Citizenship and Immigration Canada staff will be relied on in assessing whether you have an adequate ability to communicate in either English or French.

The criteria used to assess whether you have an adequate knowledge of either English or French is based on your ability to understand basic spoken statements and questions, and your ability to communicate basic information, or answers in response to these questions.

For example, as part of your interaction with departmental staff, your written test, and/or your interview with a citizenship judge, you will be expected to:

  • Answer simple questions on familiar topics using short sentences
  • Demonstrate adequate vocabulary for basic everyday communication
  • Tell a simple story about everyday activities
  • Speak about something you did in the past (or will do in the future)
  • Demonstrate understanding of factual details
  • Give simple everyday instructions and directions
  • Express satisfaction or dissatisfaction

Your ability to meet the language requirement will be assessed based on whether you understand the statements and questions asked, and your ability to communicate your answers in response.


Annex C – Attachment to Grant Acknowledgement Letter

NOTICE

Your language abilities

The citizenship knowledge test as well as your interaction with Citizenship and Immigration Canada staff will be relied on in assessing whether you have an adequate ability to communicate in either English or French.

The criteria used to assess whether you have an adequate knowledge of either English or French is based on your ability to understand basic spoken statements and questions, and your ability to communicate basic information, or answers in response to these questions.

For example, as part of your interaction with departmental staff, your written test, and/or your interview with a citizenship judge, you will be expected to:

  • Answer simple questions on familiar topics using short sentences
  • Demonstrate adequate vocabulary for basic everyday communication
  • Tell a simple story about everyday activities
  • Speak about something you did in the past (or will do in the future)
  • Demonstrate understanding of factual details
  • Give simple everyday instructions and directions
  • Express satisfaction or dissatisfaction

Annex D – Test and Hearing Notice (Discover Canada)
THIS ATTACHMENT IS NO LONGER IN EFFECT

TEST NOTICES

IMPORTANT NOTICE

Please note that the citizenship test questions to determine if you have an adequate knowledge of Canada and of the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship will be based on the content of the new study guide entitled Discover Canada: the Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship. You must correctly answer enough questions to achieve a passing mark.

In addition, in order to pass the test, you must also correctly answer questions about the following topics:

  • the right to vote in elections in Canada;
  • the right to run for elected office in Canada; and
  • voting procedures and how to register yourself as a voter.

If you do not have a copy of the new study guide, you can view it on-line or download it at www.cic.gc.ca, or call the call centre at 1-888-242-2100 to have a copy mailed to you.

HEARING NOTICES

IMPORTANT NOTICE

Please note that the questions asked by the citizenship judge to determine if you have an adequate knowledge of Canada and of the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship will be based on the content of the new study guide entitled Discover Canada: the Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship. You must correctly answer enough questions to achieve a passing mark.

In addition, in order to pass the test, you must also correctly answer questions about the following topics:

  • the right to vote in elections in Canada;
  • the right to run for elected office in Canada; and
  • voting procedures and how to register yourself as a voter.

If you do not have a copy of the new study guide, you can view it on-line or download it at www.cic.gc.ca, or call the call centre at 1-888-242-2100 to have a copy mailed to you.

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