Media considerations for citizenship ceremonies

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 media and/or other professional photographers (departmental or other) may be invited to attend a citizenship ceremony. This is particularly common for special ceremonies, such as those on Canada Day, or those attended by the Governor General, a lieutenant governor, the Prime Minister, or special guests.

The Privacy Act states that candidates for citizenship cannot be photographed, interviewed or otherwise identified at a ceremony without their consent.

If there are any concerns about the media at a specific ceremony, staff should contact the regional communication representative prior to the commencement of the ceremony.

The following guidelines must be followed to permit media, CIC, or other professional photographers to photograph, make a sound recording or videotape during the ceremony, including the administration of the oath of citizenship:

Permission Release and Consent form

The Permission Release and Consent form (page 3 of the Notice to Appear to Take the Oath of Citizenship [CIT 0024]) should be signed and attached to all candidates’ files even if the media or photographers are not present.

The names of the candidates cannot be released to anyone – before, during or after a citizenship ceremony; however, the names of the countries that the new citizens came from can be released after the ceremony.

Local office responsibilities

  • Informing all candidates for citizenship of the media’s presence and of their option to attend another ceremony if they object to the media’s presence.
  • Ensuring that any candidate for citizenship, 18 years of age or older, signs the Permission Release and Consent form (page 3 of the CIT 0024 form) indicating that they, and the minor child(ren) for whom they have also made an application, if applicable, accept that the media may take photographs, make a sound recording or videotape during the ceremony (minor children who turned 18 during the process of their citizenship applications sign their own Permission Release and Consent form).
  • Advising candidates that their names and/or photos may appear on TV, in newspapers or on websites for media purposes following the ceremony; and rescheduling candidates for a new ceremony that is as close as possible to the date of the original ceremony when candidates indicate that they do not wish to participate in the ceremony where the media or professional photographers are present.

The citizenship judge or volunteer presiding official should be advised as soon as it is known that the media will be present.

When completing the Notification of Prominent Guest(s) Attending a Citizenship Ceremony form [CIT 0503], local offices must clearly identify and flag special events to the attention of their Regional Communications representative for onward transmission to NHQ Communications. A ceremony carrying a special theme or including a special guest, or the particular profile of a host organization may turn a ceremony into an enhanced ceremony.

Interviews

Citizenship staff should be prepared to help reporters arrange interviews for the citizenship judge or the volunteer presiding official, and the candidates. Staff members will also have to ensure that electrical outlets are available for television and radio, if required, and that there is an area for interviews. It is suggested that the interview area includes a Canadian flag or a pop-up CIC citizenship banner as appropriate backdrops. Interviews should take place either before or after the ceremony. One staff member should be assigned to coordinate the activities of the media.

In the event that a citizenship official is approached by the media to give an interview, the staff member should either refer the media to speak with the citizenship judge or volunteer presiding official, or offer only factual statements (e.g. number of candidates, number of countries, name of the citizenship judge or volunteer presiding official). If a co-host or partner indicates that they wish to issue a press release, or any other form of communication (e.g. school newsletter) to the public or media, approval must first be sought from the Regional Communications Director and, if necessary, NHQ Communications. Any communication release must be issued jointly by CIC and the co-host or partner.

Allowing guests to take photographs

The citizenship ceremony is also a memorable event for new citizens, their families, and the friends they have chosen to be in attendance. It is normal to expect that guests will want to take photographs and/or videotape during the ceremony. There should be opportunities given to guests to take photographs or videotape the ceremony.

It is recognized that allowing guests to take photographs or videotape during the administration of the oath may distract the candidates and cause disruption. As such, guests should be advised of the significance of the oath and asked to respect any guidelines as determined appropriate by the local office.

To ensure safety and minimal disruption during a citizenship ceremony, the following are suggested guidelines:

  • designate an area for guests to take photos of their family members receiving their certificate of Canadian citizenship from the citizenship judge or volunteer presiding officer, such as an aisle away from the candidates moving up for receipt of their certificate;
  • allow for photos to be taken during the administration of the oath, if they are doing so from their seats and are not interrupting the flow of the ceremony or being disrespectful/disruptive to those taking the oath; and
  • provide an opportunity for formal photos with the citizenship judge or volunteer presiding official, or any other special guests following the ceremony.
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