Citizenship: Interviewing adult applicants

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

Applicants can be asked to appear in person during the citizenship application process. “Interviews” are meetings that will not necessarily result in a final outcome, whereas a “hearing” will generally result in a final outcome.

Program integrity (PI) interview

All adult grant applicants undergo a PI interview with a citizenship official, usually as part of their written test session. Adult applicants who are not required to meet the language or knowledge requirement are also interviewed.

The purpose of the interview is to verify the applicant’s identity, authenticate photocopies of documents on file with originals that are presented at the interview, and obtain information to determine if the requirements for a grant of citizenship have been met, including screening for language ability, if applicable.

Applicants scheduled for a written test are sent a Notice to Appear – To write a Citizenship Test and for Verification of Identity Documents by regular mail to their last known address or mailing address. This includes mailing to foreign addresses. Applicants should be notified about the test at least seven days before the test date. Therefore, notices should be mailed 14 days before the test date.

For most applicants, the next face-to-face interaction with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is during their citizenship ceremony. However, some applicants are asked to appear for an in-depth residence interview and/or a hearing with either a citizenship officer or a citizenship judge.

In-depth residence interview

Citizenship officers can conduct in-depth residence interviews with all applicants where, based on the initial PI interview and all information on file to date, there is an indication that residence/physical presence concerns continue to exist. These interviews may be conducted by any means (in person, where practical, by telephone or by videoconference). Further interviews should be conducted only when specific evidence submitted by an applicant requires further clarification. Interviews should not be conducted when the decision maker is seeking only to confirm facts or evidence prior to making a final decision. Once the interview has been conducted,

  • if the officer is satisfied that the applicant has met the residence/physical presence requirement and all other requirements, they may grant citizenship; or
  • if the officer is still not satisfied that the applicant has met the residence/physical presence requirement, they will refer the application to a citizenship judge for decision. The citizenship judge may make a decision based on the evidence on file or may request a hearing be scheduled. A long File Preparation and Analysis Template (FPAT) [CIT 0509] must be completed for these cases. Refer to Referring applications to a citizenship judge.

Hearings before citizenship officers

The following are scenarios for which a hearing will be held (not exhaustive):

  • the applicant fails the written citizenship test on a second attempt;
  • the applicant is caught cheating on the written citizenship test;
  • an official feels that the applicant cannot understand or express basic information in one of the official languages (despite the provision of language evidence at the time of application);
  • the applicant waives their right to a written test or a re-test and requests a hearing (where the knowledge test will be administered orally);
  • where fairness dictates (e.g., when there are credibility concerns, where there is conflicting evidence, or where it is necessary in order for the proper assessment of the evidence and requirements necessary to render a fair decision);
  • the applicant was sent a procedural fairness letter informing them that their application may be refused, and the applicant requested a hearing. For loss of permanent resident status, applications received before June 11, 2015, are referred to a citizenship judge for decision.

Hearings before citizenship judges

For applications received before June 11, 2015, judges decide to approve or refuse applications where a citizenship officer is not satisfied that the applicant has met the residence requirement under paragraphs 5(1)(c), 5(5)(d) or 11(1)(d) of the Citizenship Act or where an applicant is not a permanent resident of Canada.

For applications received on or after June 11, 2015, judges decide to approve or refuse applications where a citizenship officer is not satisfied that the applicant has met the physical presence requirements under subparagraphs 5(1)(c)(i) and (ii), paragraph 5(5)(d) or subparagraph 11(1)(d)(i) of the Act.

If the judge approves an application that has been referred by an officer, the officer should refer the case to the Case Management Branch (CMB) Litigation Management using the Case Referred Under Majority Rule or Minister’s Application for Leave and Judicial Review on Residence Cases form [CIT 0512], if they have identified one or more grounds pursuant to which the Minister may wish to exercise his right to apply for leave and judicial review. Refer to the instructions on judicial review.

Note: Never suspend an application if a citizenship judge requests additional information from an applicant during or following a hearing.

Judges do not conduct language, knowledge or prohibitions hearings or have to refer waiver requests to the CMB for consideration and decision under subsection 5(3); however, if a judge becomes aware of an issue outside of their decision-making scope that may affect a grant of citizenship, they will refer this issue to a citizenship officer for follow-up. For example, if an applicant admits to the judge during the hearing that they have immigration or criminal proceedings that have not already been dealt with, a judge will flag this as an issue for further investigation before making a decision. In such circumstances, citizenship officers are required to address the concerns raised, keeping in mind that the 60-day timeframe has already commenced.

Hearings for renunciation and resumption applicants

Citizenship officers in the field are the decision makers for resumption (section 11) applications.

Resumption applications will be forwarded from the Case Processing Centre in Sydney (CPC-S) to the local office if a hearing is required. Refer to the instructions on resumption. Resumption applications are no longer referred to a citizenship judge for a hearing unless the officer is not satisfied that the applicant has met the relevant residence/physical presence requirements. These applications are referred to a citizenship judge for decision on that single criterion (similarly to adult grants).

Program support officers at the CPC-S are the decision makers for renunciation (section 9) applications. Refer to the instructions on renunciation. In some cases, the CPC-S will request assistance from the local office or mission to host hearings via video link to conclude a case. Refer to the instructions on hearings via video link.

Procedures before, during and after a hearing

Inviting an applicant to a hearing

If a hearing with a citizenship officer or a citizenship judge is required, the applicant is sent a written notice by mail to their last-known address or mailing address; this includes mailing to foreign addresses. This notice informs the applicant

  • of the date, time and place for the hearing before a citizenship officer or citizenship judge, as required;
  • of which documents they should bring to the hearing;
  • that any of the requirements for citizenship could be assessed at the time of the hearing if the hearing is with a citizenship officer; and
  • that they must ignore any notice they may have received to attend a citizenship ceremony to take the Oath of Citizenship.

Below are the corresponding hearing notices in the Global Case Management System (GCMS).

For applications received before June 11, 2015

Type First notice Final notice
Hearing with a citizenship judge CIT 0025 CIT 0046
Interview/Hearing with a citizenship officer CIT 0522 CIT 0526

If the applicant does not appear for the test, interview or hearing

If an applicant is invited to a test, interview, or hearing, and does not appear, the applicant will have 30 days from the date of the event to submit a reasonable excuse for their absence. Refer to the abandonment procedures for information on how to action “no-shows”.

PI interview before the hearing for cases where the applicant has not previously been interviewed

If the applicant has requested a hearing at the time of application or in subsequent communication with IRCC because they do not read English or French, or if the applicant has requested a hearing due to a medical condition (and the supporting evidence of the condition has been submitted), the applicant might not be invited for a citizenship test or interview event. Refer to the instructions on adult testing for more information.

All applicants must have a PI interview with a citizenship official before a decision can be rendered. An interview, prior to the start of the hearing, must occur in cases where the applicant has never been seen by IRCC staff at any point in the citizenship process. For these cases, a CARD will need to be generated. The interview must be conducted prior to the hearing to ensure that all relevant information is on file (photocopies of documents, notes identifying outstanding issues that must be addressed, etc.) before a decision can be made. This interview can be conducted by either the same officer conducting the hearing or another delegated official.

Note: When a PI interview is required, additional time should be added to the hearing to allow for the interview to be conducted.

If concerns arise as part of the PI interview, any items of concern must be noted in the Comments box of the Part II Interview section of the CARD (e.g., if the official believes that residence/physical presence concerns exist, these concerns are to be noted). A positive decision should not be made until all identified issues have been addressed.

Use of language and sign language interpreters

For information on the use of interpreters, refer to the Persons acting as interpreters.

Requesting additional documents during a hearing

Citizenship officials will make the effort to gather enough information to make a decision before inviting the applicant to a hearing. The onus is on the applicant to provide information to demonstrate they meet all the requirements of the Citizenship Act. Generally, there should not be a need for citizenship officers to request documents during a hearing unless there is a Residence Questionaire (RQ) on file and the case is being referred to a judge for decision.

Assessment of other requirements under the Citizenship Act

Citizenship officers have the discretion to assess any of the requirements for citizenship, even those which are not part of the scheduled hearing, if they have concerns that the applicant does not meet a requirement or may be prohibited. If the applicant demonstrates that they meet the requirement which necessitated the reason for the hearing, the other identified concerns must be addressed prior to rendering a final decision on the case. Cases where residence/physical presence concerns exist and an officer is unable to make a positive decision must be referred to a citizenship judge for further determination. A long FPAT [CIT 0509] must be completed for these cases.

Cases involving potential misrepresentation must be referred to a delegated local office supervisor with a report outlining the details of the case.

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