Citizenship: Procedures for refused 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.

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Send a letter to refused applicants

If the decision maker refuses an application, the adult applicant is sent a letter in writing giving the reasons for refusal.

Minors who applied under subsection 5(2) generally do not receive their own refusal letter. Some exceptions apply. For example, if a minor loses permanent resident status during processing or is prohibited from being granted citizenship then advice should be sought from NHQ prior to sending a refusal letter to the minor.

If the parents of a concurrent minor applicant are both refused, it is not necessary to send a refusal letter to the minor for having no Canadian parent. The adult refusal letters include text that advises of the impact on a concurrent minor applicant due to the refusal of the parent.

Minors who applied under subsection 5(1)

Citizenship officers are authorized to refuse minor 5(1) applicants for:

  • losing their PR status and/or having unfulfilled conditions related to that status;
  • not meeting the requirements until the taking of the oath;
  • not filing income taxes if required to do so

Citizenship judges can refuse minor 5(1) applicants for:

For additional information see:

Refusal templates

Consolidated refusal templates for adults and minors are located in the T: drive. Citizenship officers:

  • must delete the paragraphs that do not apply to the application
  • can customize certain sections
  • select the appropriate wording where a drop-down list exists

The templates are set up so sections match the order of the appropriate section of the Act. Citizenship officers need to take extra care in ensuring that appropriate sections are deleted or retained including removing highlighted instructions before sending the final letter to the applicant.

GCMS Instructions:

  1. When opening the template from the T: drive, officers must immediately save the document to another location before making any changes to the template.
    • It is important to save immediately because the document is not a standard template, and keeping it open directly from the T: drive will restrict other users’ ability to use it.
  2. Once the template has been saved to another location, the officer will manually add:
    • the client details (UCI, application number, name, address, etc.) and
    • the local office details (signature block, primary/secondary office address)
  3. The officer would then delete the paragraphs that are not applicable to the refusal reason.
  4. Modify the letter:
    • in the appropriate places (e.g., drop-down menus, “insert details here” sections) 
    • with application-specific information
  5. Save the template again.
  6. Print and sign the letter.
  7. Scan and attach to the application in GCMS as Refusal Letter under Outgoing Correspondence.
  8. Select the refusal grounds.
    • GCMS will then auto-close the application because the refusal grounds have been completed and the refusal letter is attached. To ensure accurate and reliable reporting, it is imperative that officers indicate the refusal reason(s) in GCMS:
      • Legacy: in the > Case Reasons tab, select the appropriate > Reason(s) for refusal from the drop-down list before closing the application.
      • Grant: when selecting Refuse as a > Final Decision, select the appropriate > Refusal Ground(s) from the pop-up window. After attaching the letter and selecting the refusal ground, the application will automatically close.

Signing the refusal letter

The citizenship officer’s name must be on the refusal letter mailed to applicants. In the signature block, the officer can sign with their usual signature but the identity of the officer must be clear and the name should be identifiable. Where there are security concerns about identifying individual officers, guidance should be sought from Citizenship Program Delivery at NHQ.

Sending the letter

Send the letter by confirmed delivery method (XpressPost, registered mail, or any other delivery where receipt is confirmed) to the applicant’s last-known mailing address, whether in Canada or overseas.

Keeping records, holding files and judicial reviews

Keep a copy of the refusal letter in the applicant’s file.

A refused applicant has 30 days after the day on which the decision is communicated to the applicant to file an application for leave for judicial review.

Hold a refused applicant’s file for 180 days, and if no application for leave for judicial review has been filed at the end of this time, send the file to the CPC-S for a refund of the Right to Citizenship fee, if applicable, and file retirement.

If a refused applicant files for leave for judicial review, hold the file for 180 days or until further instructions are received from LMD.

When a refusal can be handed to an adult or minor applicant

If the decision maker decides to refuse an application immediately after the interview, the letter giving the reasons for the decision can be given to the adult or in exceptional circumstances to the minor (non-concurrent) 5(2) applicant following the interview.

For concurrent minor 5(2) applications, if a refusal letter is issued, it will be given to the parent or guardian and should not be handed to the minor.

If the refusal letter is handed to the adult or non-concurrent minor 5(2) applicant, they must sign a dated receipt saying they have received it. The receipt, along with a copy of the letter, must be kept in the applicant’s file.

A refusal letter for a minor 5(1) applicant is sent to the person who was legally authorized to apply on their behalf. If the minor received a waiver of this requirement, the refusal letter can be sent directly to the minor. See Minor applying under 5(1).

Refusals because of misrepresentation

The file may need to be referred to the Case Management Branch (CMB) for review if a decision maker refuses an application and

  • the applicant made false representations or
  • is believed to have committed fraud or
  • knowingly concealed any material circumstance, including those listed as prohibitions and information related to residency

For instructions on when to refer cases to the CMB for a possible section 29 investigation, see Referrals to the Case Management Branch for a Citizenship Act offence investigation. The standard covering memorandum must be attached to the front of the file, indicating “Possible Section 29 Investigation”.

Refusals by citizenship judges

Citizenship judges are authorized to refuse applications where the physical presence requirement of 5(1)(c) [prior to June 11, 2015] and 5(1)(c)(i)&(ii) [on or after June 11, 2015] [adult grant] or 11 (1)(d) [resumption] is not met.

Effective June 19, 2017, citizenship judges are authorized to refuse minor 5(1) applicants for:

Refusal templates that are issued to applicants by Citizenship Judges are sent directly to Citizenship Judges by the Judge Liaison Unit at NHQ. The citizenship judges’ name must be clearly identified on the refusal letter.

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