September 28, 2015

Citizenship Applications – Delays & Processing Times

Posted by admin - Bellissimo Law Group PC

On 1 April 2015, Citizenship introduced new processing standards. Applications received after this date are expected to be processed within 12 months, whereas applications filed before 1 April 2015 are to be processed within 24 months or by 31 March 2016 (whichever date comes first). Yet, non-routine applications will take up to 36 months. For most people, this is too long; many people ask what can be done about it. Here are some considerations and options:

Over 3 Years – if your application has been in process for over 3 years, it may be promising to make an application to the Federal Court for “mandamus” (an Order demanding CIC to process the application, as it has taken longer than the process requires). These are particularly effective when CIC has not provided any reason or explanation for the delay.

Non-Routine – CIC clarifies that a non-routine application includes one where the individual is “asked to provide a residence questionnaire, documents proving residence in Canada, fingerprints, or any other additional documents” or “it is unclear whether [the individual] meet[s] the residence requirements” or when “it is unclear whether [the individual is] subject to any immigration, security or criminal prohibitions”.  These features identify a significant number of applicants waiting on processing.

These are some of the reasons that are posted, which explain why there are delays. What the website does not identify is that there are lesser-known and publicised reasons why citizenship applications are delayed. For example, individuals who obtained permanent residence as a result of a positive refugee claim, who later apply for a new passport from their home country or return to that country to visit family, can be subject to delays.

Refugees & Reavailment – a Convention refugee or person who has protected person status is expected not to return to the country from which s/he fled. Even obtaining a new passport from one’s home country can be perceived as accepting the protection of one’s home country, and problematic under Canadian immigration law. The rationale is that – if a refugee can return home or accept the protection of his/her home country (i.e., “reavailed”), then the individual no longer needs Canada’s protection. In the last couple of years there has been a marked increase in applications being made by the Minister to “cease” refugees’ status for having returned home.

It has been discovered that CIC was placing citizenship applications on hold pending investigations into reavailment and cessation proceedings. Essentially, a person would apply for citizenship, be forthcoming in declaring that s/he had returned to his/her home country, and this could trigger an investigation. In some cases, the citizenship application was put on hold, and this was considered an appropriate reason for a processing delay. Very recently, the Federal Court in Godinez Ovalle (2015 FC 935) ruled that delays caused by investigations into reavailment and cessation proceedings were unlawful. CIC has now clearly been instructed to process these applications.

For more information on Canadian Citizenship, please click here.

For more information on Federal Court Mandamus, please click here.

For more information on cessation of refugee status, please click here.