Referring applications to a citizenship judge

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 Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act (SCCA) introduced amendments to the Citizenship Act. Specifically, citizenship officers are the decision makers on most citizenship applications.

For applications received before June 11, 2015, citizenship judges are responsible for decision making when a citizenship officer is not satisfied that requirements under paragraph 5(1)(c), 5(5)(d) or 11(1)(d) of the Act has been met. For applications received on or after June 11, 2015, judges are authorized to make decisions on requirements under subparagraphs 5(1)(c)(i) and (ii), paragraph 5(5)(d), and subparagraph 11(1)(d)(i) of the Act.

Although procedures are similar for each separate residency requirement, these instructions will refer only to the process undertaken for 5(1) grant applicants.

On June 19, 2017, An Act to Amend the Citizenship Act and Make Consequential Amendments to Another Act repealed the age requirement for applications made under subsection 5(1) of the Act thereby allowing applications to be made for minors under this subsection. Minors who apply under this subsection will be required to meet residency requirements, including physical presence and permanent residence requirements. See “Citizenship grants: Minors applying under subsection 5(1)”.

If officers have further questions regarding processes pertaining to applications submitted under subsections 5(5) or 11(1), they should see the Citizenship Program Delivery Division.

On this page

When to refer an application to a citizenship judge

Applications must be referred to a citizenship judge where an officer is not satisfied that an adult or minor applicant under subsection 5(1) meets any of the following requirements, assuming all other requirements for citizenship have been met.

For applications received before June 11, 2015

  • The applicant is a permanent resident.
  • The applicant has accumulated at least 3 years (1095 days) of residence in the 4 years immediately before the date of their application.

For applications received between June 11, 2015 and October 10, 2017

  • The applicant has been physically present in Canada for at least 4 years (1460 days) during the 6 years immediately before the date of their application.
  • The applicant has been physically present in Canada for at least 183 days during each of 4 calendar years that are fully or partially within the 6 years immediately before the date of their application.

For applications received on or after October 11, 2017

  • The applicant has been physically present in Canada for at least 3 years (1095 days) during the 5 years immediately before the date of their application.

Note: In accordance with the provisions of the SCCA, the authority to refuse a citizenship application because an applicant is no longer a permanent resident rests with a citizenship judge for applications received prior to June 11, 2015. For applications received on or after June 11, 2015, this authority rests with a citizenship officer.

Section 21 of the Act relating to residence stipulates periods that cannot count as periods of physical presence, including probation, parole, and imprisonment. Citizenship judges are responsible for making decisions on cases where the applicant is unable to demonstrate that he or she meets the physical presence requirement. This includes cases where the applicant does not meet the physical presence requirement as a result of the application of section 21. See “Citizenship decision-making”.

Procedure for application review by a citizenship judge

When a citizenship officer is not satisfied that the applicant has met the physical presence requirements for citizenship, the file is prepared for the review by a citizenship judge. See the instructions on residence.

Citizenship judges reviews the file to determine if there is sufficient evidence to render a decision. During this review, the judge may request the following:

  • additional information or documentation to assist in the decision-making; or
  • in-person hearing with the applicant.

The citizenship judge has the option of approving or refusing an application without the personal appearance of the applicant. This can be done based upon the information and evidence already on file or following a request for additional information or documentation. See “Decision-making without the personal appearance of the applicant”.

Request for additional documents: citizenship judge

Prior to scheduling the hearing or making a decision, the citizenship judge may ask that additional information or documents be requested from the applicant. In such cases, the information or documents is requested by the citizenship officer, using the authority derived from section 23.1 of the Act.

Once the information or documents are received, they are included on file and provided to the citizenship judge, who will conduct the analysis of the information and documents and complete the review. If following this review, the judge requests a hearing, the local office assists the judge in scheduling the hearing.

If the information or documents are not submitted by the applicant within the identified timeframe without a reasonable explanation, see the instructions on abandonment.

Request for additional information or documents during or following the hearing

On occasion, citizenship judges may ask applicants to submit additional information or documents during or following an in-person hearing. Information gathering and requests for additional documents during a hearing and the authority to consider further evidence falls within the principles of natural justice and the consideration of procedural fairness that is given to all applicants. Requests for further information or documentation in these circumstances should be made by the judge, not by the CIC staff.

If the information or documents are received within the timeframe specified, the judge reviews the information and documents and decides upon the necessary course of action.

If the information or documents are not received, the judge may be required to render his or her decision based on the information and documents already on file.

In both situations, the citizenship judge must continue to be aware of the 60-day timeframe to render a decision as specified under subsection 14(1) of the Act.

Note: Citizenship officers can never suspend an application when a citizenship judge requests additional information or documents from an applicant during or following a hearing.

Waiver of the residence requirements for minors applying under subsection 5(1)

Case Management Branch (CMB) officers are delegated to waive the residence requirements, including physical presence for all applicants under 18 years of age. Therefore, in cases where an officer refers the file to a citizenship judge because they are not satisfied that an applicant meets the physical presence requirement(s), the citizenship judge may consider referring the application to the CMB for consideration of a waiver of the physical presence requirement(s).

In these cases, where a citizenship judge has requested a personal appearance of the minor applicants in order to make a decision, the judge would suspend their decision until a decision on the waiver has been rendered by the CMB. Upon receipt of the decision from the CMB, the judge will proceed to make a decision on the file within prescribed timelines. For decision making without the personal appearance of the minor applicant, suspension of the file is not required.

Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: