ARCHIVED – Operational Bulletin 529-A – September 05, 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.

File Splitting for Applicants Who Require a Hearing

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

Summary

Scenarios for file splitting have been expanded to include cases where family members are held up in processing due to another member of the family needing a hearing.

Issue

One file is created for each family group that applies for citizenship at the same time. A significant source of delay in processing occurs when family members on the same file are held up in the process because one family member requires a hearing with a citizenship judge. Until that family member has had a hearing and joins the rest of the family at the Ready for Decision Stage in the Global Case Management System (GCMS), the rest of the family cannot move forward in the process. By splitting a file to allow other family members to proceed independently of the delayed family member, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) will be able to process these cases more quickly and thereby improve client service.

Background

It is estimated that nearly 85% of hearing referrals are for language, knowledge, or language and knowledge together.

On average there are approximately 1.4 to 1.5 cases on each file; thus, for every 100 cases in a local office's hearing queue, there can be an additional 40 to 50 clients awaiting the conclusion of this stage. Lengthy processing times at this stage at this stage result in additional work for CIC staff, most commonly the need to rework clearances that have expired while awaiting a hearing. By splitting applications to facilitate the processing of family members who do not require a hearing, CIC can reduce wait times and delays for these clients. This must be balanced by the need to ensure that we maintain program integrity measures at all times in the process. We can therefore accommodate most requests to split files, with the exception of certain files where the splitting of a file can lead to program integrity issues.

The Citizenship Policy Manual gives separate guidance on splitting files in security cases. Other requests to split files under exceptional circumstances are considered on a case by case basis. This Operational Bulletin (OB) outlines procedures around splitting files prior to a hearing to facilitate operational efficiency and client service.

Use only in Certain Circumstances

This OB focuses on splitting files when one or more family members require a hearing for either language or knowledge, and other adult family members on file are thus delayed while they wait for the outcome of that hearing. As noted above, CIC conducts all of its business through the lens of maintaining program integrity. At the hearing stage of the citizenship process, the main program integrity focus is around residency issues and possible misrepresentation. Therefore, files should not be split where residency issues exist for any client on that particular file. In all other situations, where the client requests that a file be split (urgency, relationship breakdown etc.), requests should continue to be examined on a case by case basis.

Note: Files must not be split until expired clearances are reworked and updated for all family members.

Procedure

This OB is linked to the procedures set out for conducting language and knowledge assessments, including retesting.

In cases where there is more than one applicant on file, if a CIC official is not able to positively assess language requirements or a client does not pass the written test, CIC staff will consider splitting the file to avoid unnecessary delays in the processing of other family members. The procedure is the same for any instance (language only, knowledge only, language and knowledge combined), although the timing of the file split is different in "knowledge only" cases. In cases where there are also minors on file, additional care must be taken to identify verified parentage.

Knowledge Only Cases

The decision to split a file will be made once the results of the second test are known. See OB 530-A for retesting procedures.

  1. Before meeting with the clients, check for minor applications on file. If there are minor applications on the file, check to see if parentage was established only to the client who will require a second written test. If so, see Additional Procedure – Verifying Parentage, below. Otherwise, proceed with step 2.
  2. Meet with the clients to communicate results and inform the affected clients that they will have an opportunity to rewrite their test. If they pass that test, no further action will be necessary. If they do not pass that second test, they will require a hearing with a judge.
  3. Inform clients who passed their test and language assessment that, since their case is now ready for a decision, CIC will split the file to allow these family members to proceed through the rest of the process immediately, rather than waiting for the hearing of other family member(s) to be completed. CIC will do this automatically when and if the affected client does not pass the second test, unless the family requests to remain together as a family unit during processing. If applicable, explain how the minor children on file will be affected by the file split (i.e. either they will also be split from the file or they will remain with the parent who requires a hearing).
    1. If the clients do not wish to split their file, have them complete the Request to Maintain File form to confirm their choice.
    2. Explain that the decision to split or not split the file will be made once the results of their family member(s)' second test is known. If the family members pass the second test, the file will not be split and all will proceed to final stage. If they fail, CIC would split the file.
  4. Once the results of the second test are known and are processed in GCMS, a CIC official will split all affected files.
  5. The files with no concerns are to be given to a citizenship judge for paper review and decision. Cases which require a hearing will be added to the local office's hearing inventory according to local office procedures.

Language Only and Language and Knowledge Combined Cases

Clients who are referred for a hearing for language only do not require a retest. As of September 3, 2013, clients who have language issues and also fail the written test are eligible for retesting. File splitting should be considered for these clients as well, however, file splitting should not occur until the results of the retest are known for language and knowledge combined cases.

  1. Before meeting with the clients, check for minor applications on file. If there are minor applications on the file, check to see if parentage was established only to the client who will require a hearing. If so, see Additional Procedure – Verifying Parentage, below. Otherwise, proceed with step 2.
  2. Meet with the clients to communicate results of their test and of the language assessment and inform the affected clients that they will require a hearing with a judge.
  3. Inform clients who passed their test and language assessment that, since their case is now ready for a decision, CIC will split the file to allow these family members to proceed through the rest of the process immediately, rather than waiting for the hearing of other family member(s) to be completed. CIC will do this automatically, unless the family completes a written request to remain together as a family unit during processing. If applicable, explain how the minor children on file will be affected by the file split (i.e. either they will also be split from the file or they will remain with the parent who requires a hearing).
    1. If the clients do not wish to split their file, have them complete the Request to Maintain File form to confirm their choice.
  4. As test results are being processed in GCMS, a CIC official will split all affected files.
  5. The files with no concerns are to be given to a citizenship judge for paper review and decision. Cases which require a hearing will be added to the hearing inventory according to local office procedures.

Additional Procedure – Verifying Parentage

Clients must submit a birth certificate or other acceptable evidence to establish the parent-child relationship when submitting an application on behalf of a minor child. Refer to CP 4, Sections 2.13 to 2.17 (PDF, 333 KB) for procedures. In some cases, the evidence submitted only establishes parentage to one parent. In these cases, where file splitting is being considered to move other family members through the process more quickly, additional steps may be required.

  1. When there are minor children on file and prior to communicating results to clients, CIC officials will have to consult the physical file to review evidence of parentage. In cases where parentage has already been established to the parent who is ready for a decision, follow the procedures outlined above.
  2. If evidence on file only establishes parentage to the one parent requiring a second written test or hearing, officials may have to request additional documentation to establish the link to the other parent to facilitate the file split. Otherwise, the minor applications would remain on the file of the client requiring further assessment.
  3. In all cases where additional documentation is being requested, the request should be made in written form, with a specific timeframe for the client to respond. Clients will be given 60 (sixty) calendar days to produce required documentation. Sixty days to produce documentation is being given to match the proposed maximum time limit for retesting. If they do not produce evidence to link the other parent to the minor children on file, CIC will proceed with the file split as is. Note: A CIC official can also verbally present re-test candidates the option of returning documentation on the date of their test, if this makes operational sense at their particular office.
  4. Cases falling under this exception will have to be BF'd for 67 days (60 calendar days for compliance, plus 7 days for mailing), or until documentation is returned, whichever comes first, before proceeding with splitting the file.

Be aware that additional documentation may not exist (in the cases of some Protected Persons or for children from a previous relationship) or be difficult to obtain. This should normally come to light when file splitting options are explained to the clients.

Transitional Measures – Cases Already in the Hearings Inventory

Cases that have already been referred for a hearing for language, knowledge or a combination of the two may also be split into separate files to allow other family members to proceed with their applications and avoid further delays.

For knowledge only cases, it is suggested that local offices link the file splitting option to the client's retest. OB 530-A contains instructions for retesting clients already in the hearings inventory. Since an option to not split the file is being given to clients, the Request to Maintain File form should be mailed along with the Notice to Appear to Re-write a Citizenship Test and the Retest Special Notice (see OB 530-A).

In instances where a client has been referred for a hearing for language only or a combination of language and knowledge, local offices should mail the Request to Maintain File form to the clients, requesting that the forms be returned within 30 (thirty) calendar days. BF files for 37 days (thirty for compliance, plus seven for mailing). If the form is returned, do not split the file. If the form is not returned by the BF due date, proceed with splitting the file, as in the procedures outlined above.

For Itinerant Services – See OB 530-A.

Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: