Some applicants will now find it easier to obtain Canadian citizenship because of the new waivers introduced by the Canadian Immigration Department in 2023.
In September 2023, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced new Canadian citizenship waivers and accommodations.
In addition, the IRCC has added exceptions based on non-medical compassionate grounds, making it easier for some people to get Canadian citizenship.
If they fall under specified circumstances, the IRCC will now give official language, oath, and/or knowledge of Canada (including responsibility and rights of citizenship) waivers to citizenship candidates between the ages of 18 and 55.
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Accommodations for Citizenship Applications
IRCC is now providing accommodations to applicants in order to help them meet the qualifying requirements for the citizenship application.
If an applicant meets all of the other citizenship requirements, IRCC may make accommodations such as:
- ensuring that any on-site event locations are wheelchair and service animal accessible, and
- Other versions of the study guide, oral or Braille versions of the citizenship knowledge exam, or extra time on exams are available through interpretation services.
New Waivers the Canadian Citizenship
Waivers are used when accommodations are unable to meet a client’s expectations due to a failure to meet particular provisions of the Citizenship Act (the Act).
There is now a waiver for the oath of citizenship for applicants 14 and older who are unable to appreciate the importance of the oath of citizenship owing to mental impairment.
As a result, minors under the age of 14 are exempt from taking the oath of citizenship, as is the case for candidates 55 and older.
Applicants can also get language or Canadian knowledge waivers based on the compassionate grounds stated below.
Waivers of Canadian Citizenship on compassionate grounds
Applicants between the ages of 18 and 54 must take the citizenship test and demonstrate their language skills in English or French when they sign the citizenship application.
You can now request a waiver if you have a medical or non-medical circumstance (or both) that can satisfy IRCC standards. This could include:
- a serious medical illness that has lasted (or may continue to last) at least one year
- as a major disease
- a physical or developmental disability
- a mental illness
- Trauma brought on by
- residing in a refugee camp
- similarly comparable instances
- low literacy or schooling levels in the first language (mother tongue) or
- other similar situations that may necessitate a waiver
Applicants who request a waiver of the knowledge requirement will not be invited by IRCC to the citizenship exam unless their request is denied.
Unacceptable Justifications for a Waiver
In addition, the IRCC has said that time and expense are not valid reasons for a waiver.
Applicants, for example, cannot request a waiver because they lack the time to study for the citizenship test or are unable to pay the language test fee.
Can I request many waivers in my citizenship application?
Yes, depending on your circumstances, you can obtain waivers of more than one citizenship requirement. As an example:
you can request one or two waivers: a test or oath
all three waivers, if applicable: test, swear, and language
How can I obtain a waiver for my application for Canadian citizenship?
You can request one or all of the waivers for your citizenship application by filling out a Waiver Request form (CIT 0116) and stating why you require a language or knowledge waiver.
The IRCC has also amended the Medical Opinion Form for Citizenship Waiver (CIT 0547), allowing eligible candidates to seek waivers based on medical grounds.
How does the IRCC evaluate waiver requests?
All judgments on knowledge, language, and oath waivers will be made by the Case Management Branch (CMB).
Applicants will no longer be required to attend a waiver hearing; rather, CMB decision-makers will use their discretion to accept or reject a waiver request based on the supporting documents.
The Centralized Network (CN) will transfer files including waiver requests directly to the CMB rather than utilizing the Domestic Network (DN).
Who is eligible to apply for Canadian citizenship?
In general, you must meet the following qualifications to be eligible for Canadian citizenship:
1. You must be a permanent resident of Canada and have spent at least 1,095 days (three years) in Canada in the five years before your application.
2. You must have completed your personal income tax filing duties for at least three tax years within the five-year term and have appropriate understanding of English or French (CLB/NCLC level 4). If you are under the age of 18 or over the age of 55, 3. You do not need to take an English or French language test.
4. You must pass a citizenship knowledge test to demonstrate understanding of Canada’s history, values, institutions, and rights and duties.
5. You must not be barred from entering Canada because of certain criminal offences.