Additional procedures specific to Citizenship hearings

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by IRCC staff. It is posted on the department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

Coordination between offices

Managers should first contact their counterpart at the other office to discuss the judge’s availability. If the request is being made in order to provide service in the applicant’s official language, the manager receiving the request should do their best to accommodate the request. If the request is being made to reduce the hearing inventory, then managers will need to consider the impact to their office’s output. The manager receiving the request will need to confirm the availability of their judge to perform hearings by videoconference. Once confirmed, the managers will need to agree upon the number of hearings and hearing date(s). The Office of the Senior Judge should be kept informed of the arrangements via regular reporting of videoconference hearings that took place. Offices should note if a videoconference hearing is planned on the monthly schedules they send to the Senior Judge’s Office.

In general, the office whose applicants are being interviewed is responsible for ensuring consent for the videoconference hearing is obtained, availability and reservation of the interview room, all scheduling in the Global Case Management System (GCMS) and notification to the applicant and the judge. 

Eligibility for participation

Most applicants will be eligible for a videoconference hearing, however, residence and prohibition cases should not be included unless all supporting documentation has been received prior to scheduling and they have been previously seen by a CIC official. Cases where an issue with the credibility of the applicant has been identified by either the officer or the judge should not be scheduled for a videoconference hearing. Before scheduling a residence case, confirm with the judge that they are ready to proceed. Ensure the applicant has not identified “Special Needs” that may impede their ability to participate in a videoconference hearing. Offices should avoid scheduling applicants who have never met with a CIC official, as this may complicate the hearing.

Obtaining consent

While client consent is always required for citizenship videoconference hearings, offices are not required to obtain the consent of the applicant prior to scheduling them for a videoconference hearing. When consent is not obtained in advance of scheduling the appointment, the following procedures are recommended:

  • Give applicants three weeks’ notice to appear for a hearing and ask to provide any supporting documentation either by fax or print copy to the office at least 48 hours in advance.
  • Send the consent form be sent along with the invitation.
  • If the client appears for the videoconference hearing, but decides differently and now does not wish to have a videoconference hearing, clearly explain to him/her that he/she will not be seeing a judge that day and that waiting for an in person hearing will result in a further delay.

Due to the implementation of instructions related to retesting, offices now have the opportunity to obtain consent when advising applicants they have failed their second test. Offices may also mass mail consent forms to clients in their office’s hearings inventory and ask that the forms be returned before the applicant can be scheduled. Consent forms should be kept on file.

Note: To avoid legal risk, CIC continues to require a signed consent form. Applicants will not be penalized for not consenting. Previous hearing no-shows should not be scheduled for a videoconference hearing. If the individual consented to the videoconference hearing and then does not appear, they should be treated as a no-show.

Scheduling the hearing

Once the use of a judge is agreed upon, the local office supporting the judge must convey to the manager of the scheduling office the date(s) the judge is available, as well as their working hours by email.

The scheduling office will need to ensure that their videoconference hearing room is available. All videoconference hearing rooms can be reserved in Outlook (see procedures above). When a hearing is scheduled, it should be done in both GCMS and Outlook. Appointments should follow the regular allocation of time for hearings.

An officer should review a file for completeness before giving it to support staff for scheduling. File preparation as per instructions should also be completed.

Hearing scheduling in GCMS

The office scheduling the hearing should create the judge as a resource, if he/she is not already a resource for that office. Follow the GCMS instructions for this. When naming the resource, include the judge’s name, followed by a hyphen and the word video.

When scheduling the hearing, follow the normal procedures. Associate the videoconference interview room and the judge to the hearing.

Then add the applicants to the event and record the appointment times, etc. Ensure a consent form is added to the notice to appear, if there is not one on file already. If the applicant responds, place the consent form on file. If the applicant has declined, cancel the appointment in Outlook and remove the applicant from the hearing event. Place a note on the case in GCMS.

The file should then be transferred to the judge’s office. Underneath the destination address, the phrase “Attention: Videoconference Hearing File” should be added. Receiving offices should file this appropriately.

When the applicant arrives

When an applicant arrives, an email should be sent to the judge advising them which applicant has appeared (last name, first name, time of appointment). Applicants who are more than 10 minutes late should not be seen without first confirming that the judge is still available. The greeter must ensure the applicant has a signed consent form, if one is not on file. The consent form should be faxed to the judge. If the applicant chooses not to consent, advise them that they will be rescheduled at a later date.

If the applicant has not been seen previously by a CIC official, an interview with a CIC official will take place prior to the hearing. Part B of the file requirement checklist (CIT 0508) must also be completed and faxed to the citizenship judge. If concerns arise during the interview, immediately prior to the hearing, the citizenship officer is required to brief the judge prior to the start of the videoconference hearing.

If an interpreter will be used, the official will also ensure the Interpreter’s oath form (CIT 1-0117) is completed. As per current practice, if an applicant appears at a videoconference hearing with a significant volume of supporting documents, the applicant will be advised that the hearing will be re-scheduled after the judge has had time to review the supporting material. The supporting material with the officer’s analysis will then be mailed to the judge (or the file recalled from the judge) and a note placed in GCMS advising as to what has transpired.

There is no legal requirement for the individual to sign the attestation on the Notice to the Minister of the Decision of the Citizenship Judge (CIT 0053B). This section of the form should be left blank.

Conducting the hearing

If the judge requires additional supporting documents, the applicant is required to send them.

When the hearing ends, the judge should not advise the applicant of their decision. Simply inform them that they will be notified either by mail with a refusal letter or with a convocation letter to a citizenship ceremony. The citizenship judge will send an e-mail to the CIC official at the office where the applicant is located to inform them the hearing has been concluded and advising of any additional supporting documents that have been requested.

Post-hearing process

Once all scheduled hearings are completed, the hearing event results should be recorded. The judge will normally have up to 60 days to render a decision using the Notice to the Minister of the Decision of the Citizenship Judge (CIT 0053b); however, if the decision is known at the conclusion of the hearing, it can be included as part of the hearing result in GCMS.

For non-approvals, the citizenship judge prepares the non-approval letter, signs and dates it. The non-approval letter is sent to the applicant by registered mail via the assigned office. It is also attached to GCMS per current procedures. Non-approvals will be filed as per current practice, until the appeal period has passed. Once the appeal period has passed, the file must be shipped to the Case Processing Centre in Sydney for archiving.

In all cases, the decision form with the judge’s original signature is placed on file, along with any supporting documents the applicant had sent to the judge. If the decision is positive, the file will be transferred back to the originating office and assigned to an officer for a decision on the granting of citizenship. Once granted, the originating office may then schedule the applicant for a ceremony.

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