Citizenship: Justifying the decision

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.

The Citizenship Act, as amended by the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act (SCCA), gives authority to two distinct decision makers: citizenship officers and citizenship judges.

Positive decision

When a positive decision is rendered (i.e., citizenship is granted), the appropriate box on the appropriate form is checked, and the decision maker signs and dates the form.

The forms are as follows:

  • Citizenship Application Record of Decision (CARD) [CIT 0065];
  • Decision of the Minister’s Delegate – Section 5 [CIT 0524];
  • Notice to the Minister of the Decision of the Citizenship Judge – Section 5 [CIT 0053].

A signature stamp is not acceptable, and should not be used on a CARD or decision form.

Once citizenship is granted, the applicant can be invited to take the Oath at a citizenship ceremony.

After reviewing a judge’s decision to approve an application, the citizenship officer must make a decision on whether to grant citizenship or refer the case to the Case Management Branch 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.

Negative decision

Section 14 of the Citizenship Act requires that when a citizenship judge does not approve an application, they have an obligation to notify

  • both the applicant and the Minister of the decision and the reasons for it; and
  • the applicant of their right to apply for judicial review.

While not specified in legislation, but in accordance with procedural fairness and the rules of natural justice, citizenship officers who are making decisions are likewise instructed to notify the applicant if they do not grant citizenship and provide them with the reasons for their decision.

The decision makers must be the one to justify their decision to refuse or non-approve an application. This responsibility cannot be delegated to another decision maker.

Failure to give reasons, or providing inadequate reasons for a decision when required by law may have consequences, should a judicial review be sought.

When the decision maker(citizenship officer or judge)refuses an application, the letter must

  • inform the applicant that the application is not approved or refused;
  • outline the facts, analysis of the facts, and the conclusions that have been reached based on the analysis;
  • gives complete reasons for and evidence supporting the decision;
  • outline the evidence rejected (if applicable), and the rationale or basis for rejecting the evidence;
  • give an explanation for any findings made and how those findings relate to whether the requirements of the Act were met or not met.

Note: Giving a conclusion and repeating the criteria set out in the Citizenship Act is not sufficient.

In addition, when a citizenship judge makes the refusal decision, the letter must show that the applicant has been given the two options following the refusal:

  1. submit a new application when they believe they meet the requirements of the Act; or
  2. seek judicial review of the decision by filing and serving on the Minister an application for leave and judicial review with the Federal Court within 30 days after the day on which they were notified of the decision not to approve their application.
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