ARCHIVED – Operational Bulletin 530 – June 5, 2013

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

Retesting and communicating results of the citizenship knowledge test

This Operational Bulletin has expired. For current information, please refer to OB 530-A.

Summary

Guidelines are now available for re-testing those applicants who fail the written knowledge test and those who are in the hearing inventory queue for having failed the written knowledge test. Additional instructions are provided to advise applicants of written test results immediately after testing along with notification of file splitting.

Additional instructions are provided to clearly advise applicants of the option to withdraw.

Issue

Currently, the majority of the hearing inventory is comprised of applicants who have failed the knowledge test. In an effort to reduce the hearing inventory, to limit its growth, increase decisions and improve processing times, the following measures are being introduced:

  • Retesting;
  • Communicating results and next steps to applicants; and
  • File Splitting – see OB 529.

Background

From March 2010 to February 2011, re-testing was offered to citizenship applicants (see OB 244-B). This was a temporary measure in order to mitigate the impact of a new citizenship test based on the introduction of the new study guide Discover Canada

This Operational Bulletin replaces OB 244-B with respect to the retesting policy.

Procedure/Retesting policy

Target audience:

  • Applicants who fail the written knowledge test as of June 3, 2013; and
  • Applicants who are in the hearing inventory queue for having failed the knowledge test only.

Applicants who fail the written knowledge test, as well as applicants who are in the inventory for a knowledge hearing, will be rescheduled to take the written test and will be given the option of withdrawing their application. Only clients who failed the written knowledge test and who are not flagged for a hearing for other issues (language, residency, criminality, security or knowledge combined with other criteria) will be scheduled to write the test a second time before being referred to a hearing with a citizenship judge. 

Note: A copy of Discover Canada must be provided to applicants if they require it.

There will now be three (3) categories of test sessions:

  • First time testers (current working inventory);
  • Re-testers (applicants who fail post June 3, 2013); and
  • Re-testers – (applicants in the knowledge hearing inventory).

Retesting sessions must be scheduled and held as separate events from first time testers to allow for more accurate reporting. Offices are reminded to follow instructions on distribution of tests as per normal procedures.

Monitoring and reporting

Manual monitoring and reporting will be required and all local offices must complete a template(s) on test session performance (i.e. pass, fail, no-show etc.) distinguishing between first test, retest and retest inventory.

Communicating results of test and next steps to applicants

Moving forward, following all test sessions, local office staff will communicate to the applicant the results of their test. Staff must provide the applicant with the actual test score (no discussion regarding outcome per question). Providing test results will allow the applicant to gauge their performance, consider the option to withdraw and prepare in consequence for the retest. Officers are also to explain that clients can withdraw their application for citizenship. Offices are to maintain a supply of Discover Canada booklets and ensure applicants have a copy by which to study.

It is strongly recommended that offices administer the written test as the first step in the testing session and conduct the usual interview process afterwards. This will reduce the number of times that officials are required to interact with applicants. Communicating results during the standard interview allows for all communication with the applicant to occur in one interaction and also reduces stress of applicants waiting to write the test. 

If applicant passes:

  • Inform the applicant that, pending a final decision by the citizenship judge, they will proceed to the citizenship ceremony. Provide the applicant with the timelines for the ceremony. This can either be scheduled on the spot or a notice mailed to the applicant as per normal procedure.

Local offices may wish to consider providing applicants with their ceremony notice immediately following the test session if this is operationally feasible. This measure will decrease the number of no shows at ceremonies, decrease enquiries to the Call Centre and improve client service. Furthermore, when offices are planning special enhanced ceremonies, applicants can be offered the choice to participate in the event or remain part of a standard ceremony. Offices that choose to implement this process will need do the necessary input in the Global Case Management System (GCMS) after the test event.

If applicant fails - first time fail:

  • Provide applicant with their test score and a copy of the information sheet entitled Notice –Results of Your Citizenship Test and Next Steps, indicating first time fail.
  • Advise applicant that they can withdraw their application for citizenship.
  • If client continues with processing, advise that they will be scheduled to rewrite the citizenship test in approximately 4 to 8 weeks. The retest can be scheduled on the spot or a notice mailed to the applicant as per normal procedure.
  • Hand the applicant a copy of Discover Canada if client requires a copy.

Note:  Local offices may wish to consider providing applicants with the date of their retest immediately after the test session if this is operationally feasible. Offices that choose to implement this process will need to do the necessary GCMS input after the test event.

  • Advise the applicant that if they fail the test a second time they will be scheduled for an oral interview with a citizenship judge. Inform the applicant that wait times are very long. 
  • Inform the applicant that they will only have one opportunity to rewrite the test. If they do not appear for that appointment, they will not be re-scheduled for a retest. They will be scheduled for an oral interview with a citizenship judge.
  • If one or more applicants are part of the file, inform applicants who have passed their test and language assessment that, since their case is now ready for a decision, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (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 applicant does not pass the second test, unless the family requests to remain together as a family unit during processing. See OB 529 File Splitting. Do not split the file until the results of the retesting are known.

If applicant fails - Second time fail:

  • Provide applicant with their test score and a copy of the information sheet entitled Notice – Results of Your Citizenship Test and Next Steps, indicating second time fail.
  • Advise the applicant that they will be scheduled for an oral interview with a citizenship judge and that wait times for an interview are very long.
  • For applicants who were in the hearing inventory, return the file to its original place in the hearing queue.

IMPLEMENTATION PLAN

Phase 1 – June 3rd, 2013 – Launch of retesting in all offices with new applicants (first time testers)

Effective June 3, 2013, applicants will be informed that if they fail their knowledge test AND have no other issues with their file they will be scheduled for a retest. This information must be delivered during the testing preamble. Local offices are instructed to insert the paragraph below in their current preamble script:

If you do not obtain a pass mark (15/20) on your test today, and there are no other issues with your file, you will get the opportunity to re-write the test in approximately 4-8 weeks. You will be notified by mail with a date and time to appear for your re-test. Please take this opportunity to prepare accordingly using the Discover Canada study guide. If you do not pass your re-test, you will be required to attend an oral interview with a citizenship judge.

Scheduling re-testers

A period of 4-8 weeks between the first and second test should elapse before retesting failed applicants, which will allow additional time for them to study and prepare.

All applicants must have valid clearances, including fingerprints on file if needed before being scheduled for a retest. Field Operations Support System and GCMS checks must be conducted before retest as per normal procedure – see OB 263.

Local offices must enter case reasons into GCMS and will need to input when the applicant is a “retest”.

Proper identification of applicants as per normal procedure must be undertaken prior to the test session and a citizenship officer should be prepared to attend in the event that a specific issue arises (i.e. language screening issue).

Itinerant Services

For areas serviced by itinerant services, three options can be presented to applicants:

  • Notify the Call Centre if they are travelling to a city with a local office and CIC will schedule the applicant for a retest.
  • Wait until the itinerant service returns to their location and have a retest
  • If the applicant fails the retest and if operationally feasible, the applicant could have their hearing while staff and judge are still on location.

Note:  Please adjust the timelines accordingly for a retest session in your preamble script.

Phase 2 – Reduction of hearing inventory – knowledge only

Knowledge hearing inventory applicants

When operational capacity in a local office allows, retesting sessions are to be scheduled for applicants currently in the hearings inventory for having failed knowledge only.   

Triage

A triage of inventory applicants should begin as soon as possible.  

  • Identify files that are flagged for a knowledge hearing only.
  • Check for valid clearances and rework if expired.
  • Ensure files are marked for place in the queue. Should the applicant fail the re-test the file will need to be placed back in the hearing queue.   

The following types of files in the knowledge hearing inventory will not be scheduled for a retest and will remain in the hearing inventory:

  1. If already scheduled for a hearing.
  2. If close to being scheduled for a hearing (length of time before hearing is scheduled is at local office discretion).
  3. If applicants who have failed their knowledge test and have a Residence Questionnaire (RQ), even if the review of the RQ indicates there are no concerns.
  4. Applicants who are 55 years of age or older.

Scheduling re-testers – hearing inventory applicants

Reminder: Retesting sessions must be held separately from first time testers to allow for more accurate reporting.

  • Files should be scheduled for retest from oldest to newest.
  • For those local offices that have a small knowledge hearing inventory, please ensure that 4 to 8 weeks have lapsed since the applicant first wrote the test and the date they are scheduled for their retest.
  • Include along with the Notice to Appear for the Citizenship Test the following:
    • the Notice – Rewriting the Citizenship Test;
    • a copy of Discover Canada;
    • the Request to Maintain File form.
  • Enter case reason in GCMS: Retest – hearing inventory.

Applicants Approaching 55

If during the triage of hearing inventory files there are files where the applicant has turned 55 years of age, the application can be removed from the hearing inventory and be referred to the judge for a paper review and decision if there are no other concerns with the file. 

If an applicant will turn 55 on or before the date of the retest event, the client can be removed from the retesting process, and referred to the judge for a paper review and decision.

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