Conducting interviews and hearings with minors

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.

These instructions apply to minors (under 18 years of age) who can be asked to appear in person during the citizenship application process, if necessary. Interviews are for fact gathering that will not necessarily result in a final outcome, whereas hearings will generally result in a final outcome.

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General guidelines

Principles of natural justice and procedural fairness

Officers should be alert and sensitive to the fact that they are dealing with minors and that certain adjustments may have to be made on a case-by-case basis to ensure that this particular group of applicants is being treated fairly. The same underlying administrative law principles of procedural fairness apply to minor applicants. Officers should, therefore, exercise common sense and sound judgment when communicating and conducting interviews or hearings with minor applicants.

Citizenship officers should keep in mind the principles of natural justice and be reasonable and consistent when using their discretion to make a decision.

Questioning

Citizenship officers or case processing agents who are conducting interviews or hearings with minor applicants should restrict themselves to addressing only those requirements of the Citizenship Act that they are called upon to assess in making a decision in relation to the minor’s application.

For example, where a minor applicant is scheduled for  an interview to review their permanent resident status or in the case of minors applying under subsection 5(1), the physical presence requirements, the citizenship officer’s questions should be directed to assessing the minor applicant’s ability to meet those specific requirements and not toward seeking information about the minor applicant’s parents (e.g., questioning the minor applicant to determine whether their parents were present in Canada during the relevant period).

If, however, something should incidentally arise from the official’s good-faith questioning of the minor applicant that might potentially have an impact on the application of the parent(s) of the minor applicant, the official should pursue any necessary follow-up questioning directly with the minor applicant’s parents.

Accompanying persons

Parents, guardians or a person with custody of a minor or who is empowered to act on their behalf can accompany a minor applicant to a program integrity (PI) interview or hearing for support.

Considerations

  • Citizenship officers and case processing agents should be flexible in allowing accompany persons indicated above to be present during an interview or a hearing.
  • Minor applicants must be able to meet the requirements on their own merit.
  • Minor applicants should be given the opportunity to express their views and wishes, including having an accompanying person(s) present.
  • If an accompanying person(s) insists on being present with the minor applicant, citizenship officials should give the minor and the individual(s) an opportunity to decide amongst themselves.
  • Accompanying persons should be instructed not to interfere with the assessment.

Use of language and sign language interpreters

Interpreters are permitted to accompany a minor applicant during an interview or a hearing to assess any of the requirements of citizenship. See Persons acting as interpreters (instructions for citizenship officers and case processing agents) and Accompanying persons (instructions for citizenship officers and case processing agents for more information.

When minor applicants declare on the application form that they are deaf or hard of hearing and require a sign language interpreter, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will give the minor applicants the choice of bringing their own interpreter to the citizenship interview or hearing or using the services of a competent and independent sign language interpreter arranged and paid for by IRCC. See the Persons acting as interpreters (instructions for citizenship officers and case processing agents).

Interpreter and accompanying person’s oath

An Interpreter’s Oath form [CIT 1-0117] must be completed whenever an interpreter is used. The citizenship officer must ensure the interpreter reads, understands and signs the Interpreter’s Oath form. After the citizenship officer witnesses and dates the oath, it becomes part of the applicant’s file. If a counselor or a consultant has accompanied the applicant to the hearing, the officer records their name and includes in their notes any issues discussed directly with them. See the Accompanying persons (instructions for citizenship officers and case processing agents for more information.

Program integrity (PI) interview

The purpose of the interview is to

  • verify the minor 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.

Minor applicants applying under subsection 5(2)

Minors applying under subsection 5(2) are generally not required to attend a PI interview.

For concurrent applications

  • Original documents for the minor are verified when the principal applicant attends their program integrity interview. If the minor is 14 years of age or older at time of grant, their identity will be verified at ceremony check-in.

For non-concurrent applications

  • If a minor is 14 years of age or older at time of grant, their identity will be verified at ceremony check-in.
  • If a minor is under 14 years of age at time of grant, their citizenship certificate is generally mailed directly to the principal applicant.

Minor applicants applying under subsection 5(1)

All applicants aged 14 to 17 must be scheduled for a PI interview. It is recommended that the PI interview be conducted prior to the ceremony check-in. If this is not operationally feasible, PI interviews may be scheduled on a different date.

Note: Minors who applying under subsection 5(1) and are under 14 years of age are given the option to attend a ceremony on the application form even though they are not required to take the oath of citizenship.

In cases where officers have specific concerns for minor 5(2) and minor 5(1) applications, they have the discretion to schedule a program integrity interview at any time with an applicant of any age.

Some applicants, however, are asked to appear for a hearing with a citizenship officer.

Hearings before citizenship officers

The following are possible scenarios in which citizenship officers will hold a hearing with a minor applicant:

  • there are concerns as to whether the applicant is a permanent resident, has any unfulfilled conditions relating to that status or is prohibited from being granted citizenship based on criminality or security grounds;
  • there are concerns as to whether the applicant meets the physical presence requirement (minors applying under subsection 5(1) only)
  • the applicant was sent a procedural fairness letter informing them that their application may be refused, and the applicant requested a hearing.

Procedures before and during an interview or hearing

Inviting a minor an applicant to a hearing

If a hearing with a citizenship officer is required, the minor applicant is sent a written notice by mail, in care of the person who applied on the minor child’s behalf (where applicable), to their last known address, which may include a foreign address. This notice informs the applicant of the following:

  • the date, time and place for the interview before the citizenship officer;
  • which documents they should bring to the hearing;
  • that any of the citizenship requirements could be assessed at the time of the hearing; and
  • that parents, guardians, a person with custody or empowered to act on the minor’s behalf may accompany a minor.

The corresponding hearing notices in the Global Case Management System (GCMS) are as follows:

  • First notice: Notice to Appear – Interview with a citizenship officer [CIT 00522CIF2]
  • Final notice: Final Notice to Appear – Interview with a citizenship officer [CIT 0526CIF2]

Notices must be sent by regular mail to the minor applicant’s last known address. Minor applicants should be notified about the hearing or the interview at least seven days in advance; therefore, notices should be mailed 14 days before the event.

See the abandonment procedures for details on notices to appear.

Program integrity before the hearing for cases where the applicant has not been previously interviewed

All minor applicants requiring a hearing must have a PI interview with a citizenship official beforehand. An exception applies to minor applicants who are appearing for a hearing and who have been previously seen (e.g., at a previous interview session); they do not need to be interviewed for PI reasons immediately before the hearing.

The PI interview can be conducted either by the same citizenship officer conducting the hearing or by a case processing agent before the hearing. All relevant information must be on file prior to the hearing (photocopies, documents, etc.).

Note: Where a PI interview needs to be conducted, additional time should be added to the hearing to allow for this step to be completed.

If concerns arise as part of the PI interview, they must be noted on the CARD [subsection 5(2)] or subsection 5(1)]. Concerns should be put to the minor applicant in order to give them an opportunity to respond. A decision should not be made until all identified issues are addressed to the degree possible.

Verifying the applicant’s identity at the hearing

The minor applicant’s identity is verified by a citizenship official before beginning a hearing with a citizenship officer. This verification can be conducted either by the same officer conducting the hearing or by a case processing agent.

Attestation

The officer asks the minor applicant

  • if their responses to the prohibition questions indicated on their application form are still applicable;
  • to confirm that they declared any immigration or criminal proceedings that they were subject to on their application;
  • if they declare being the subject of any criminal or immigration matter, (if so, the officer records as many details as possible and adds a note to the file using the Note to File – Citizenship Program form [CIT 0136], and the officer may need to request additional documentation to determine if the prohibitions apply); and
  • to sign the attestation on the Decision of the Minister’s Delegate – Subsection 5(2) [CIT 0546CIF2] or Decision of the Minister’s Delegate – Subsection 5(1) form (the citizenship officer then countersigns and dates the attestation section).

Requesting additional documents during a hearing

Citizenship officials (level 1 or level 2) make the effort to gather enough information to make a decision before inviting the minor applicant to a hearing. The onus is on the minor applicant to provide information to demonstrate that they meet all the requirements of citizenship. Generally, there should not be a need for citizenship officers to request documents during a hearing.

Assessment of other requirements under the Citizenship Act

Citizenship officers have the discretion to assess any of the requirements for a grant of citizenship, even those which are not part of the scheduled hearing, if they have doubts that the minor applicant meets the requirement.

If an officer an officer is not satisfied that a minor 5(1) applicant meets the physical presence requirement(s), the file should be referred to a citizenship judge. See Minors applying under subsection 5(1)

Waivers

The Case Management Branch (CMB) is the delegated decision maker on all waiver requests made by a minor applying under subsection 5(1) and for any requests to waive the taking of the oath of citizenship (minors 14 to 17 years of age) due to a mental disability. See Ministerial discretion to waive some of the requirements for a grant of citizenship on compassionate grounds

Citizenship officers will refer a request for 5(4) discretionary grant to the CMB for consideration.

Closing the hearing

At the closing of the hearing, the citizenship officer will

  • determine if there are any other requirements that have not yet been assessed before closing the hearing (a citizenship officer may need to ask the minor applicant to provide additional documents, such as court documents);
  • advise the minor applicant that their file will be reviewed and that they will receive a letter informing them of the decision;
  • not tell the minor applicant of the decision at the hearing according to best practice (if the minor applicant is informed of the decision at the time of the hearing, they may become emotional, which can create a difficult situation for the citizenship officer or the staff in the local office);
  • give the minor applicant an opportunity to ask questions; and
  • thank the minor applicant and escort them out of the office to the public waiting area.

Procedure following a hearing

Complete notes using the CIT 0136 form

Citizenship officers should ensure their notes are complete. If there was anything to note regarding the conduct of the hearing (e.g. behaviour of an interpreter or accompanying person), these notes should be included. If the citizenship officer requested any further documentation from the minor applicant, they must also include this in their notes, along with the deadline given to the minor applicant to provide this documentation.

Granting citizenship

Once a file has been approved by a citizenship officer, the same officer must complete Part III of the Decision of the Minister’s Delegate – Subsection 5(2) form [CIT 0546CIF2] or Decision of the Minister’s Delegate – Subsection 5(1) form [CIT0524CIF2].

Note: For concurrent applications, the grant of citizenship is completed only after the parent’s application is approved and after the parent has taken the Oath of Citizenship (usually right after the ceremony).

For additional instructions on when to complete the grant decision, see the Citizenship Application Record of Decision form (Part IV of the CIT 0546CIF2 form).

Refusal of citizenship

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