ARCHIVED – Operational Bulletin 476-B – August 07, 2013

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada staff. It is posted on the Department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

Abandonment of citizenship grant applications where proof of residence has not been provided and closure of applications due to test/interview no-shows

This document has expired. Please refer to the appropriate Program Delivery Instructions for current information.

Summary

This Operational Bulletin (OB) amends the original OB 476 and also introduces new procedures for administrative closure of citizenship applications.

Issue

The purpose of this OB is to outline new procedures regarding the abandonment of citizenship applications where applicants have failed to provide requested documents to substantiate residence. It also introduces procedures for file closure when an applicant has not shown up to their test or interview with a citizenship official.

The purpose of these procedures is to prevent certain citizenship applications from being kept open for long periods when the applicant is not actively pursuing their application or where they have not complied with requests to provide information related to residence. These new procedures will allow such cases to be closed more quickly and will, in some instances, allow for files to be closed before reaching the citizenship judge.

Background

Citizenship tests and interviews with a citizenship official

Applicants are responsible for attending their appointment to write the citizenship test and/or be interviewed by a citizenship official. Processing of individual applications cannot proceed without the completion of these steps as the Department is unable to complete all of the necessary inquiries to prepare the application for a decision by a citizenship judge.

Documentation to support residence in Canada

Applicants for Canadian citizenship must provide all required information in support of their application in order for the citizenship judge to render an informed decision. The onus is on the applicant to satisfy the citizenship judge, on a balance of probabilities, that the requirements for citizenship have been met.

Since November 15, 2012, applications have been deemed abandoned if a residence questionnaire (RQ) has not been submitted by an applicant after two requests by the Department.

The abandonment procedures currently outlined in CP 13 state that abandonment can only occur in two scenarios:

  • Failure to attend a hearing with the citizenship judge after two notices (as described in subsection R11(9) of the Citizenship Regulations); and
  • Failure to attend a citizenship ceremony after one notice (as described in subsection R23(1) of the Citizenship Regulations - this also applies to minor applicants 14 years and older).

In such cases, the application is recorded as abandoned without further notice to the applicant.

However, with the coming into force of amendments to the Citizenship Regulations on April 17, 2009, to support the implementation of Bill C-37 (2008), An Act to Amend the Citizenship Act, c. 14, S.C. 2008, the regulations concerning documentary requirements for citizenship grants were revised. Specifically, one of the changes gave authority to require the applicant to provide evidence of residence in Canada (see note)Footnote 1

Applicants who do not provide documentation in support of their residence in Canada (i.e. RQ and supporting evidence) do not need to be scheduled for a hearing with a citizenship judge before their applications can be deemed abandoned. They are instead subject to procedures described in section R11 (set out below).

New procedures – Effective immediately

RQ not provided when requested by the Case Processing Centre in Sydney (CPC-S) or the local office

Since November 15, 2012, citizenship applications under subsection A5(1) have been registered as abandoned if the applicant has not responded to procedural requests to provide additional information to support their residence in Canada.

Furthermore, since May 7, 2012, the CPC-S has been issuing the RQ directly to some applicants (local offices continue to issue RQs as well). Applicants are required to return their completed RQ with supporting documents to the local office responsible for processing their application.

Under R11, applicants are asked, through a first notice that is sent to their latest known address, to submit an RQ and supporting documents to establish residence. Applicants are given 45 calendar days to provide the completed RQ and supporting documents. Once the 45 calendar day deadline has elapsed, a one-week grace period may be given to the applicant to provide the RQ and supporting documents. After the grace period, the local office is to issue a final notice to the applicant by registered mail (or equivalent). The final notice will give the applicant an additional 30 calendar days to provide the RQ and supporting documents. If the applicant has not complied with Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s (CIC) request after the 30 calendar day deadline, the local office will record the application as abandoned. Afterwards, no further action will be taken on the file.

A copy of all RQ notices sent to the applicant must be kept on file. CIC staff will enter the date on which the initial RQ letter was sent, as well as other applicant-specific information. Before mailing the second notice, the Field Operations Support System/Global Case Management System (GCMS) record should be checked to verify whether or not the applicant has signalled a change of address.

Process applicable for pending applications — New (effective immediately)

These abandonment procedures are applicable to all cases where the applicant has applied on or after April 17, 2009, and where an RQ has been requested, but not returned. Local offices may review their hearing inventory for cases falling into this scenario. One final notice (see GCMS form CIT 0513) may be sent to such applicants requesting that they provide the RQ and supporting documents. If the RQ is not provided, the application is to be deemed abandoned.

Note: This procedure does not apply to cases where the applicant is currently/was previously scheduled, for a hearing.

No-shows for a test and/or an interview with a citizenship official —New (effective September 3, 2013)

Prior to OB 476, applicants who could not attend their test and/or interview with CIC staff were scheduled for a second test/interview session or, in some cases, scheduled for a hearing with a citizenship judge. The first iteration of OB 476 introduced pilot procedures whereby an RQ was triggered if the applicant did not show up at two citizenship tests or interviews. This procedure is no longer in effect.

New Procedures – Administrative closure of applications

Effective September 3, 2013, applicants will be sent one test/interview notice. If the applicant does not show up at the appointed place and time, and fails to provide an acceptable reason for this absence, their application will be administratively closed.

The citizenship test/interview notice has been amended accordingly and is to be used from this point forward.

The amended test/interview notice informs applicants that they have 60 days from the date of the first appointment to provide CIC with an acceptable reason for failing to attend. If an acceptable reason is not provided within 60 days, the applicant is to be mailed the attached final notice letter. It serves as a last reminder for the applicant to contact CIC if they have an acceptable reason for failing to attend their test/interview. This notice gives the applicant 30 days to do so. Once the 30-day period has elapsed, and no response has been provided, the application is to be closed immediately in GCMS.

Note:

  • This new procedure replaces (day-forward) the temporary pilot procedure in OB 476 whereby such applicants were to be mailed an RQ. Cases where an RQ has already been issued due to the previous pilot procedures are to be processed to completion as per the instructions in the initial iteration of OB 476.
  • The abandonment process for hearing no-shows is unchanged.

Process applicable to pending applications

These procedures are also applicable to pending applications. All cases currently set aside for a hearing because the applicant has not shown up for a citizenship test/interview may be removed from the hearing inventory. In order to limit litigation risk, the same procedures apply to such cases: the applicant is to be mailed the new test/interview notice, as well as the final notice letter.

Note:

Applications previously or currently scheduled for a hearing must continue through to the hearing process.

In all situations, if the applicant attends the test/interview with a citizenship official but does not pass the citizenship test, the re-testing policy applies (i.e. they may be invited to re-write the citizenship test – see chart below).

Modification to the re-testing procedures (effective September 3, 2013)

The re-testing procedures have been modified. Cases where the applicant has not shown up to a re-test session will also be subject to administrative file closure procedures.

As a result, the re-test notice has been amended in a similar manner to the new citizenship test/interview notice. Applicants who fail to attend their re-test session will also be sent the new file closure notice.

Note:

The procedures do not apply to cases where an RQ was issued due to the previous pilot procedures OR where the applicant has previously been scheduled for a hearing.

Procedure for file closure in the Global Case Management System

Following the deadline stated in the final file closure notice, local offices must close the file immediately in GCMS and generate a note providing the reason for file closure, thus assisting the Call Centre in case the applicant calls to obtain information regarding their application.

Applications that are abandoned as a result of an RQ not being submitted upon request must also be closed immediately in GCMS.

In situations where the file is closed due to a test/interview no-show, the discontinuation reason to be used in GCMS is “No-show”. The case note to be entered is “APPLICATION CLOSED – TEST/INTERVIEW NO-SHOW”.

In all cases where an application has been abandoned due to an RQ not being provided, the following case note must be added “ABANDONED- RQ NOT PROVIDED.” The discontinuation reason in GCMS is “ABANDONED”.

Exceptions and Flexibility

Some applicants may have an acceptable reason for failing to respond to requests for additional information in the prescribed period of time, or to attend a test or interview with a citizenship official. If an applicant provides CIC officials with a reasonable explanation AND proof or evidence to support their explanation, additional time may be granted to submit the RQ or the test/interview may be rescheduled.

Here are some examples of acceptable and unacceptable explanations for a delay in responding to requests for additional documentation, or for failing to attend a test or interview. They are based on CP 13, section 6.5.

Acceptable explanations (examples):

  • Applicant must be away for an extended period to care for a dying parent.
  • Applicant is unable to appear as a result of health constraints following an illness/accident.
  • Applicant has requested documents from a third party and is waiting for these documents (such as a Record of Movement).
  • Other extenuating circumstances as deemed reasonable by CIC (e.g., applicant called out of country to sort out family/business affairs as a result of a death in the family).

Unacceptable explanation (example):

  • Applicant lives or continually travels abroad and wants to wait until next trip to Canada.

On occasion, the reasons put forward by an applicant may be difficult to assess. In such cases, it may be appropriate to exercise discretion for other reasons not included in the examples referred to above, and in such cases officers are encouraged to exercise common sense and good judgment.

In some instances, the applicant may submit a completed RQ without any supporting documentation. If the applicant states that they are waiting for specific documents from a third party (such as Records of Movement), the application is not to be abandoned.

Returning the file to the Sydney Case Processing Centre for application retirement

Before returning a file to CPC-S for application retirement (and reimbursement of the right of citizenship fee), please ensure that all appropriate steps have been taken, that notices were sent to the applicant’s most recent known address, and that the steps taken have been documented on file. Applications that are declared abandoned or administratively closed due to the procedures outlined in this OB must be kept at the local office for a period of 6 months in case of litigation or reactivation of the case.

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