Accompanying persons (instructions for citizenship officers and case processing agents)

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.

Introduction

Who can be an accompanying person?

An accompanying person can be a friend, a relative, or any other person who accompanies the citizenship applicant to provide support at the proceedings and during interactions with citizenship officers.

For example, accompanying persons may be present to provide moral support or assistance to applicants with physical disabilities.

The accompanying person should not have a citizenship application in progress.

When accompanying persons may be allowed

Accompanying persons may be allowed during the following activities:

  • the screening of the applicant’s ability in one of the official languages of Canada during an interview;
  • the assessment of the applicant’s knowledge of one of the official languages of Canada at a hearing; and
  • the assessment of the applicant’s knowledge of Canada and the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship at a hearing.

Accompanying persons are not allowed to be present in the room at the written knowledge test or retest sessions, except when they are accompanying applicants with physical disabilities who need assistance from the accompanying person at that time. In the case of minor applicants, parents or guardians are also not allowed to be present in the room at the written knowledge test or retest session. If the parent or guardian is also scheduled for a test or retest, they must be seated separately from the minor.

Criteria for accompanying persons

The accompanying person should not have a citizenship application in progress. This is to prevent an accompanying person who is also applying for citizenship from becoming privy to information about the citizenship process that would give them an unfair advantage over other applicants and, therefore, weaken the integrity of the citizenship process.

However, in cases where the accompanying person has a citizenship application in progress, the citizenship officer or the case processing agent has the discretion to take into consideration a variety of factors, particularly the potential hardship on the applicant if the accompanying person were excluded, to determine whether to allow the accompanying person’s presence at the interview or hearing (refer to the Assessment factors section).

Before the appearance

Send the Information on Accompanying Persons and Interpreters form

The Information on Accompanying Persons and Interpreters form should be sent to applicants prior to their appearance before a citizenship officer or a case processing agent and should accompany the Notice to Appear.

At the proceedings

Verification of the accompanying person

When an applicant brings a person to accompany them to the citizenship proceedings, the following steps should take place prior to the interview or hearing:

  1. An Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) official must ask the person whether they will be acting in the capacity of an accompanying person or an interpreter for the applicant.
  2. An IRCC official will then require the accompanying person to fill out and sign the Accompanying Person Declaration and Interpreter’s Oath form authorizing IRCC to verify in the Global Case Management System (GCMS) on the application status of the accompanying person. An IRCC official will also ask the accompanying person for their identity document to confirm their identity.

    An Accompanying Person Declaration and Interpreter’s Oath form must be completed whenever an accompanying person is present. This form is used to provide IRCC with authorization to verify whether the accompanying person has a citizenship application in progress. The citizenship officer or the case processing agent must ensure the accompanying person reads and signs the form. The citizenship officer or case processing agent witnesses and dates the form. This oath form becomes part of the applicant’s file.

    Note: In cases where the accompanying person has a citizenship application in progress, the citizenship officer or the case processing agent administering the interview or hearing will be responsible for assessing and determining whether to allow the accompanying person to be present during the proceedings (see the next section for more information).

    A minor 10 years of age or older who acts as an accompanying person must sign the Accompanying Person Declaration and Interpreter’s Oath form.

  3. After the verification of information by an IRCC official, the accompanying person will bring the completed form with them to the interview or hearing session.

    Important: If an accompanying person begins translating for the applicant during the interview or hearing, the citizenship officer or the case processing agent should stop the proceedings and confirm whether the accompanying person will be acting as an interpreter. If the accompanying person agrees to become an interpreter, the procedures for interpreters must be followed. This step must be completed prior to the continuation of the interview or hearing.

Cases where the accompanying person has a citizenship application in progress

In cases where the accompanying person has a citizenship application in progress, the citizenship officer or the case processing agent responsible for administering the interview or hearing may take into consideration a variety of factors, particularly the potential hardship on the applicant, to determine whether to allow the presence of the accompanying person during the proceedings. To assess hardship, the officer or the case processing agent may wish to consider the following:

  • applicant’s health condition (e.g., the applicant has a mental or physical disability for which they need support or assistance from the accompanying person at that time); and
  • cost and time to travel to the IRCC office for an interview or hearing, if rescheduled (e.g., the high cost of travelling to the IRCC office; the applicant’s job or other commitments that would make it difficult for them to come back to the IRCC office with a different accompanying person).

Availability (or lack thereof) of another person to act as an accompanying person

The determination of hardship on the applicant will be unique in each case and must be analyzed on its own merit by the citizenship officer or the case processing agent when they decide whether to allow an accompanying person to attend the proceedings.

Assessment process and steps

In cases where the accompanying person has a citizenship application in progress, the following steps may take place:

  1. The officer or the case processing agent should let the applicant know that the accompanying person may not be allowed at the interview or hearing session because they have a citizenship application in progress.
  2. The officer or the case processing agent may ask the applicant whether the exclusion of the accompanying person would cause the applicant any hardship or difficulties and why.
  3. The officer or the case processing agent may take other factors into consideration in their determination of allowing the presence of an accompanying person during the proceedings.
  4. If the officer or the case processing agent determines that the accompanying person should be allowed to attend, then the officer or the case processing agent may proceed with the interview or hearing in the presence of the accompanying person.
  5. If the officer or the case processing agent determines that the accompanying person should not be allowed to attend, the officer or the case processing agent may ask the applicant if they would like to
    1. proceed without the accompanying person; or
    2. have the proceedings rescheduled and bring another accompanying person.
  6. The officer or the case processing agent should ask the applicant if they received the Information on Accompanying Persons and Interpreters form with their Notice to Appear. If the applicant did not receive the Information on Accompanying Persons and Interpreters, the information sheet will be provided to them following the interview or hearing.
  7. At the end of the interview or hearing, the officer or the case processing agent must document all the evidence used to determine why the presence of the accompanying person was allowed or refused. The officer’s notes should be placed on the applicant’s file and in GCMS to document what has transpired.

Accompanying persons and minor applicants

Minors between 14 and 17 years of age are required to meet the language and knowledge requirements, unless prevented from doing so by special circumstances (see the instructions on waivers).

Parents or guardians can accompany a minor to an appointment for a written knowledge test or retest, program integrity interview, or hearing to provide support, but they are not permitted to provide assistance to the minor during any language or knowledge assessments. With respect to testing sessions, parents or guardians can accompany a minor, for example, during the check-in procedure, but are not permitted to sit in the testing room, unless they are also scheduled to take a test. In this instance, they will be seated separately from the minor (see Conducting interviews and hearings with minors).

If parents are also scheduled for a knowledge and/or language hearing, the citizenship officer should assess them prior to administering the knowledge and/or language assessment to any minor applicants.

Considerations

  • Citizenship officers and case processing agents for routine cases should be flexible in allowing parents or guardians to be present during an interview or a language or knowledge hearing.
  • Minors must be able to meet the requirements on their own merit.
  • Minors should be given the opportunity to express their views and wishes, including having a parent or guardian present.
  • If parents or guardians insist on being present with the minor, citizenship officials should give the family an opportunity to decide amongst themselves.
  • Parents should be instructed that they are not to interfere with the assessment.

During the proceedings

When to cease the use of an accompanying person

Citizenship officers and case processing agents have the discretion to end the participation of an accompanying person at any time. The following situations may be grounds for the officer or case processing agent to ask an accompanying person to leave the proceedings:

  • the accompanying person is assisting an applicant and seems to be providing the answers to or on behalf of the applicant;
  • the accompanying person is disruptive;
  • the accompanying person takes notes;
  • the citizenship officer or the case processing agent becomes aware that the accompanying person has a citizenship application in progress. In these instances, the officer or the case processing agent may wish to assess if asking the accompanying person to leave the interview or hearing session would cause any hardship to the applicant.

If the citizenship officer or the case processing agent ends the participation of the accompanying person, the officer or the case processing agent may ask the applicant if they would like to

  • proceed without the accompanying person; or
  • have the proceedings rescheduled and bring a different accompanying person.

The officer’s or the case processing agent’s notes should be placed on the applicant’s file and in GCMS to document what has transpired.

Misrepresentation

If the citizenship officer becomes aware that the accompanying person has a citizenship application in progress, despite having attested that they did not, the officer or the case processing agent may refer the matter to the office supervisor to conduct a determination on misrepresentation.

When misrepresentation is suspected, the office supervisor should consult with Nat-Cit-Operations before proceeding.

Authorized representative

When a citizenship officer or case processing agent has concerns that an accompanying person who is an authorized, paid representative is affecting program integrity or not complying with the intent of the Accompanying Person Declaration and Interpreter’s Oath form, the officer or agent should follow office investigation procedures and potentially share this information with a regulatory body. See chapter IP 9, section 9, Procedure: CIC office investigation process.

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