Judicial review of a citizenship decision: Judicial review initiated by the Minister

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

The Minister may seek judicial review if:

  • the citizenship judge approves an application; and
  • the Minister is of the view that the citizenship judge may have made an error reaching their decision. As the “Minister” is represented by a citizenship officer acting as the Minister’s delegate, the Minister may not file an application to the Federal Court for leave to seek judicial review in order to challenge another citizenship officer’s decision.


Step 1

Review the citizenship judge’s decision

Where the citizenship officer is of the view that there may be grounds to seek judicial review of the citizenship judge’s decision, the officer will immediately consult their manager to discuss the matter.

The local Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) office manager will make the decision on whether or not to recommend a judicial review.

Note: Subsection 22.1(3) of the Citizenship Act allows the Minister to make an application in respect of a decision of the citizenship judge.

In view of the limited number of applications for judicial review filed by the Minister and the strict timelines imposed by the Federal Court, authority to initiate judicial review procedures has been delegated to the Director, Litigation Management Unit (BCL), Case Management Branch.

See the residence policy to learn more about the types of files referred to the BCL due to an applicant’s absences from Canada, which may have a direct impact on whether or not residency requirements are being met.

Step 2

Send the report recommending judicial review

Within 10 business days of being notified of the citizenship judge’s decision, send a report to the BCL.

The report gives the written reasons why the local CIC office manager is recommending a judicial review from the citizenship judge’s decision.

Step 3

Reviews report

The BCL is responsible for reviewing recommendations from citizenship managers who are requesting the BCL, on behalf of the Minister, to apply for leave to seek judicial review from a citizenship judge’s decision.

If the Director of the BCL agrees to seek judicial review, immediate instructions will be issued to the Department of Justice to file the leave application with the Federal Court.

The BCL will ensure that the originating office and all other interested parties within the Department are informed of the developments and decisions made with respect to the recommendation.

Step 4

The Federal Court grants or denies leave

If the Court denies leave, the application is dismissed and proceeds no further as there is no right to appeal the leave decision.

A party may, by making a written request and identifying the material requested, ask for material relevant to an application that is in the possession of the decision-maker and whose decision is the subject of the application. If such a request is made, the certified tribunal record containing photocopies of documents related to the citizenship decision must be prepared.

Step 5

The Federal Court makes a decision

The Federal Court judge who grants leave fixes the day and place for the hearing and will set the timeframes within which the parties must: serve and file their affidavits; conduct cross-examinations; and file their respective arguments. The Court hears the application for judicial review in the city closest to the citizenship judge’s area of jurisdiction. The Minister, the citizenship judge and the applicant are notified in writing of the Federal Court decision.

The decision is forwarded to the Litigation Management analyst who enters a Global Case Management System (GCMS) case note indicating the results of the judicial review.

The Federal Court may dismiss a judicial review initiated by the Minister
  • The Federal Court may dismiss the Minister’s challenge to the citizenship judge’s decision. In such cases, the citizenship judge’s original decision in determining that the applicant meets the residence requirements of the Act and citizenship Judge’s approval will stand.
  • The local CIC office ensures that the file contains valid clearances.
  • Citizenship may be granted by the Case Management officer or the local citizenship officer and the results entered in GCMS.
  • The local CIC office schedules the applicant to take the oath of citizenship.
The Federal Court may rule in favour of the Minister

The Federal Court may grant the judicial review, where the Court finds that the decision is not reasonable, or where it decides that the decision was not arrived at in a lawful manner. The application for judicial review will be allowed and the citizenship judge’s decision will be quashed (set aside).

  • Depending on the Federal Court’s judgment, the matter will usually be sent back for redetermination to a different citizenship judge.
  • The local CIC office is notified that citizenship will not be granted pending the Court ordered redetermination.
  • The applicant may re-apply for citizenship at any time. The local CIC office ensures that GCMS is updated and that the file is closed and forwarded to the Case Processing Centre in Sydney (CPC-S) for file retirement, if citizenship is not granted.
  • The right of citizenship fee is refunded, if applicable.
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