ARCHIVED – Operational Bulletin 530-B – January 16, 2014

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.

Retesting and communicating results of the citizenship knowledge test

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

Summary

Guidelines are now available for re-testing applicants who fail the written knowledge test and those who are in the hearing inventory queue after having failed knowledge only or knowledge combined with any other criteria. 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 decision ready cases and improve processing times, the following measures have been introduced:

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

In order to ensure procedural fairness, retesting will now be expanded to include applicants who have failed the knowledge test and also have any combination of other criteria that requires assessment by a citizenship judge.

Background

From March 2010 to February 2011, re-testing was offered to citizenship applicants (see OB 244-B). This was a temporary measure aimed at mitigating the impact of the new citizenship test introduced following publication 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:

  • Group 1: Applicants who fail the written knowledge test as of September 3, 2013.
  • Group 2: Applicants who are in the hearing inventory queue for having failed only the knowledge test or applicants who failed the knowledge test plus have any other combination of criteria that requires assessment by a citizenship judge.

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.

Effective immediately, applicants falling under the following scenarios can be scheduled for a test and retest, if necessary:

  • Applicant is clearly prohibited;
  • Basic residence has not been met due to insufficient permanent resident time or due to Section 21;
  • Applicant is under an enforceable removal order, or is no longer a permanent resident;
  • Applicant has not provided fingerprints and/or court documents;
  • Applicant has 900 days or less of physical presence in Canada.

Note: Continue to refer to OB 476-B, section No-shows for test and/or an interview with a citizenship official, for current instructions on how to address cases of applicants who have not appeared for their citizenship test/interview with an official on two occasions (if applicant is 55 or older, interview only).

Exceptions to testing/retesting:

Applicants in the following two scenarios should not be scheduled for a test or a retest:

  • Applicant has requested a hearing at the time of application or in subsequent communication with Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) because they do not read English or French. Applicants with literacy issues should not be invited to write a test or a retest if CIC is aware of the issue from information on file. If CIC staff only becomes aware of the literacy issue at a test/interview event, they must advise the applicant that Discover Canada is available via the CIC website in e-book and audio-version formats. These applicants should instead be scheduled for a hearing. Local office staff will place a note on file and in the Global Case Management System (GCMS) to record that a test/retest was bypassed due to literacy concerns.
  • Applicant has requested a hearing due to a medical condition. Where it is clear from information on file (i.e., completed medical opinion form or letter from legal guardian) that the applicant has a mental disability or condition that is cognitive, psychiatric or psychological in nature that prevents them from writing a test then the applicant should be scheduled for a hearing instead. If CIC staff only becomes aware of a medical condition at the time of testing/interview then the applicant must be given the medical opinion form to complete as per current procedures. Local office staff will place a note on file and in GCMS to record that a test/retest was bypassed due to medical concerns.

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.

See additional instructions under Transition measure – Hearing Inventory Cases – Knowledge combined with any other criteria below.

Communicating results of test and next steps to applicants

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 the 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. Officers are not to recommend withdrawal of applications, but rather inform the applicant that if they do not feel that they can meet the knowledge requirement that the option to withdraw exists. Offices are to maintain a supply of Discover Canada booklets and ensure applicants have a copy 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 if they are able to meet all other requirements. 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 (Notice to appear – to take the oath of citizenship) 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 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 – Annex 1, indicating first time fail.
  • Advise applicant that an option available is withdrawing their application for citizenship.
  • If client continues with processing, advise them 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 the applicant requires a copy and advise that additional formats, including audio, are available from the CIC website.

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.

  • Inform the applicant that they will only have one (1) opportunity to rewrite the test. If they do not appear for that appointment and we do not hear from them with an acceptable reason for not attending within 60 days from the date of the scheduled re-test appointment that their file will be closed and we will refund the $100 right of citizenship fee. They will need to submit a new application and any applicable fees in order to become a Canadian citizen. See OB 476B, Abandonment/Closure of applications
  • 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.
  • 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, 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 if and when the affected applicant is unsuccessful at the retest, unless the family requests to remain together as a family unit during processing. See OB 529-A File Splitting and associated Appendix A, Request to Maintain File form – to be completed at the interview. Do not split the file until the results of the retesting are known.

Note: A copy of Discover Canada will also be provided to applicants seen in person upon request.

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 – Annex 1, 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

Group 1 – applicants writing the test for the first time

Effective September 3rd, 2013, applicants will be informed that if they fail their knowledge test, regardless of any other issues with their file, they will be scheduled for a retest. This information must be delivered during the testing preamble.

Local offices are reminded to use the updated preamble script which was sent on September 26, 2013.

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.

Local offices have the option of scheduling applicants for a retest without valid clearances. However, clearances must be valid before a file is referred to a judge. Field Operations Support System and GCMS checks must be conducted before retest as per normal procedure – see OB 263.

Effective September 3, 2013, local offices must use the new Notice to Appear – To Re-write a Citizenship Test, which is available in GCMS.

Proper identification of applicants as per normal procedure must be undertaken prior to the test session and a Citizenship Officer or C&I Agent should be prepared to attend in the event that a specific issue arises (i.e. language screening issue).

Itinerant Services

The following instructions apply only to applicants who are served through itinerant service. Local offices have the flexibility to offer to applicants only those options that are operationally feasible.

Testing sessions only (no judge present)

Offices that deliver testing sessions during an itinerant service trip may present the following retest options to applicants:

  1. Wait until the itinerant service returns to that location and retest.
  2. As per OB 483 In-Canada Itinerant Services, an applicant can request to be scheduled for a retest at any CIC office if they do not wish to wait for the next planned itinerant service offering. If an applicant indicates that they prefer to travel to a different CIC office than the one performing itinerant services in that area and
    • is aware that they will be travelling to a location where there is a test at a CIC office in six weeks or more, then the officer should facilitate the temporary transfer of the file to accommodate the applicant; or
    • is unsure if they will travel to another CIC office, then the officer should instruct the client to contact the Call Centre if they choose to travel. A minimum of six weeks notice is required before a retest appointment can be scheduled. The Call Centre will send the referral to the appropriate office for action.
    The office receiving the referral will arrange for the file transfer. Once the retest is completed, the file can be transferred back to the responsible office to be finalized. Receiving offices (whether the Centralized Processing Region or CIC office) will input case notes into GCMS documenting the applicant's choice.

Note: Do not allow applicants to do a retest on the same day.

One pass sessions (judge present)

Offices that are scheduling a combination of tests, hearings and ceremonies during an itinerant service trip may present the following options to applicants:

  1. Wait until the itinerant service returns to that location and retest. If the applicant passes the retest, offices may consider scheduling the ceremony the same day (via one-pass).
  2. See option No. 2 above.
  3. If possible, offer the applicant the opportunity to waive the retest and proceed directly to a hearing with a judge. Depending on the number of failures in a given day and the need to manage judge's time effectively, officers will need to allow for some flexibility in the judge's hearing schedule to accommodate at least a couple of hearings, if required. If chosen, have applicant complete the Waiver of Retest for Adult Grant form – Annex 3.

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

File Splitting

Split successful family files immediately after the test is failed at first attempt unless the applicant(s) are proceeding to hearing on the same day and are successful. This is an exception to instructions found in OB 529-A in order to avoid further delays to remaining family members who are part of the same file and can proceed to ceremony if the application(s) is approved. However, local offices must still ensure there are no security concerns before initiating a file split and files must not be split where residency issues exist for any client on a particular file.

Group 2 – Reduction of hearing inventory – knowledge only or knowledge combined with any other criteria

Knowledge hearing inventory applicants

Retesting sessions are to be scheduled for applicants currently in the hearings inventory for having failed the knowledge test.

Triage

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

  • Identify files that are flagged for a knowledge hearing only and knowledge combined with any other criteria.
  • 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.

Note: Local offices have the option of scheduling applicants for a retest without valid clearances. As per normal procedure, clearances will need to be reworked if expired and a hearing cannot be scheduled until clearances are updated.

Scheduling re-testers – hearing inventory applicants

Reminder:

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

  • 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 – To Re-write a Citizenship Test the following:
    • the Notice – Rewriting the Citizenship Test – see Annex 2;
    • a copy of Discover Canada;
    • the Request to Maintain File form (Appendix A – see OB 529-A – File Splitting).
Transition measure – Hearing inventory cases – Knowledge combined with any other criteria

Previous processing instructions found in Phase 3 of OB 530-A no longer apply except where local offices have already scheduled files for a hearing that have knowledge combined with any other criteria. These events do not need to be cancelled; however, judges must offer the applicant the choice of proceeding with the oral knowledge evaluation or being scheduled for a retest. The Retest Option for Adult Grant - See Annex 4 must be completed at the hearing and attached to the file.

Note: For monitoring and reporting purposes, applicants who opt for the retest will be scheduled in a retest session. If a local office is unable to accommodate a retest in a hearing inventory retest session then the applicant can be scheduled with regular re-testers (non-hearing inventory). In this case, local office staff will need to complete two test reporting templates for the test event in order to capture both categories of retesters, namely the Retest: Applicants who fail first test post June 3, 2013, and Retest: Knowledge Hearing Inventory.

In order to schedule applicants who opt for a retest into a retest session, results from the hearing must be applied first in GCMS and the user must create new "Schedule Test" and "Record Test Results" sub-activities for each case that needs to be scheduled for a retest.

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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