Decision-making without the personal appearance of citizenship applicants

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.

In limited circumstances, decisions based on objective criteria can be made without the personal appearance of an applicant at a citizenship hearing. Nevertheless, procedural fairness and “the right to be heard” dictate that an applicant must be given the opportunity to be aware of the case against them, and also be given the opportunity to respond and present evidence in their case. The right to be heard does not necessarily mean that an applicant has the right to a personal appearance before the decision maker.

Citizenship officers may make a decision on cases without the personal appearance of the applicant when an applicant

  • appears to be prohibited (including for misrepresentation and for not maintaining the requirements for citizenship until the Oath).
  • is under a removal order;
  • has unfulfilled conditions relating to their status as a permanent resident of Canada. See Conditional permanent residence.

For applicants who applied on or after June 11, 2015, in addition to the above, citizenship officers may make a decision on cases without the personal appearance of the applicant when an applicant

Citizenship judges may make a decision on cases without the personal appearance of the applicant when an applicant does not meet the residence/physical presence requirement (unless procedural fairness dictates that a hearing should be held such as when there are credibility issues).

For applicants who applied before June 11, 2015, in addition to the above, citizenship judges may make a decision on cases without the personal appearance of the applicant when an applicant is no longer a permanent resident of Canada.

Procedural fairness procedures

Before rendering a decision, the citizenship officer mails a procedural fairness letter using the applicable template if, after analyzing all available documentation (i.e., court documents, copy of removal order, information obtained from GCMS and other Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada records), it appears that an applicant is

  • prohibited;
  • subject of a removal order;
  • has not met the income tax filing requirement;
  • does not meet the residence/physical presence requirement;
  • has unfulfilled conditions related to their status as a permanent resident; or
  • is no longer a permanent resident of Canada.

The applicant is requested to provide written submissions only. The applicant is not given an option for an in-person hearing unless the citizenship officer determines fairness dictates (e.g., when there are credibility concerns, where there is conflicting evidence, or it is necessary in order for the proper assessment of the evidence and requirements necessary to render a fair decision).

The template must

  • be customized to the applicant’s specific circumstances (for example, to their specific charges/convictions that appear to be causing the prohibition and how these circumstances relate specifically to their case); and
  • contain complete details to allow the applicant to adequately respond to the case against them.

Time the applicant is given to respond

The letter gives the applicant 30 days to provide information/evidence that may indicate that they

  • are not prohibited;
  • are not under a removal order;
  • have met the income tax filing requirement;
  • meet the residence/physical presence requirement;
  • have fulfilled their conditions or is still a permanent resident of Canada.

Note: To ensure that the applicant has the opportunity to respond, staff should request a follow-up (BF) on the file for 45 days to allow correspondence to be received and matched to the file.

Outcomes following the procedural fairness letter

The applicant provides new evidence

For requirements under the decision-making authority of citizenship officers

If the applicant provides evidence that results in a positive decision, then the citizenship officer

  • clearly notes the new evidence on the Decision of the Minister's Delegate – Section 5 form [CIT 0524];
  • completes the applicable section(s) in Part I;
  • provides additional comments in Part III if necessary; and
  • approves the application.

If the submissions do not refute the evidence on file or results in a negative decision, then the citizenship officer

  • completes the applicable section(s) in Part I of the CIT 0524 form;
  • provides additional comments in Part III if necessary;
  • refuses the application; and
  • sends the applicant a refusal letter.

For requirements under the decision-making authority of citizenship judges

If the submissions refute the evidence on file and results in the citizenship officer being able to render a positive decision, then the citizenship officer should follow the steps outlined above under “For requirements under the decision-making authority of citizenship officers”.

If the submissions do not refute the evidence on file, the application is referred to a citizenship judge for a decision.

The applicant does not respond

Note: Abandonment procedures should not be initiated if the applicant does not respond to a procedural fairness letter.  A decision should be rendered on the application with the information on file.

For requirements under the decision-making authority of citizenship officers

Based on the evidence on file, the citizenship officer

  • makes a decision;
  • records the decision on the CIT 0524 form by completing the applicable section(s) in Part I;
  • provides additional comments in Part III if necessary;
  • refuses the application; and
  • sends the applicant a refusal letter.

For requirements under the decision-making authority of citizenship judges

The application is referred to a citizenship judge for a decision.

The applicant requests a hearing

In cases where the applicant is not given an option for an in-person hearing but where the applicant requests a hearing, citizenship officers respond to such requests immediately, clarifying that only written submissions will be accepted and that the original deadline for submissions still applies.

For requirements under the decision-making authority of citizenship officers

Once a hearing is scheduled with an officer, if the applicant provides evidence that

  • results in a positive decision, the new evidence considered is clearly noted on the CIT 0524 form. The citizenship officer completes the applicable section(s) in Part I, provides additional comments in Part III if necessary and grants the application;
  • does not refute the evidence on file or results in a negative decision, the citizenship officer completes the applicable section(s) in Part I of the CIT 0524 form, provides additional comments in Part III if necessary, refuses the application and sends the applicant a refusal letter.

For requirements under the decision-making authority of citizenship judges

Once a hearing is scheduled with a citizenship judge, if the applicant provides evidence that

  • allows the judge to approve the application, because the judge is satisfied that the applicant meets the requirement:
    • The application is forwarded to the officer to make a decision on whether to grant citizenship, or the case is referred to the Case Management Branch if the officer has identified one or more grounds pursuant to which the Minister may wish to exercise their right to apply for leave and judicial review.
  • does not satisfy the judge that he or she meets the requirement, the judge non-approves the application and send the applicant a non-approval letter.

Some examples of information the applicant might provide

  • Evidence that indicates charges were recently withdrawn or dismissed.
  • Evidence showing that the applicant has successfully met the terms of a conditional discharge and is no longer on probation.
  • Evidence that indicates the applicant has received a pardon or records suspension.
  • Evidence that indicates section 21 of the Act does not apply (using the same evidence as above).
  • Evidence that shows the applicant is not subject to a removal order (i.e., successful appeal).
  • Evidence that proves the applicant did not lose their permanent resident status (i.e., the applicant has regained permanent resident status).
  • Evidence that shows the applicant has filed income taxes for the relevant period.

Procedural fairness letters

Refer to the T:drive to find procedural fairness letter templates for:

  • Adult grant requirements
  • Minor grant requirements
  • Resumption requirements
  • Prohibitions
  • Maintaining requirements until the Oath of citizenship
  • Misrepresentation
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