The short-comings brought to light by the self-evaluation done by the immigration department highlights areas where Canadian citizenship processes need improvisation. A report in this regard (an analysis of the period between 2013 to 2018) was released in November 2020 and mentions that the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s (IRCC) has come out with some recommendations on how to address these short-comings. The report is an outcome of an accountability exercise under the supervision of the Treasury Board.
As is the case now, after living in Canada for at least three years, the permanent residents become eligible to apply for citizenship, subject to fulfilling other eligibility conditions. The permanent residents must pass a citizenship test/ interview and must prove their language competency skills in English or French.
Some insights are as follows:
The current application fee rates are $630 for adults and $100 for minors (children under 18 years of age). IRCC has commented that there is a need to re-examine the fee structure in order to bring equity in the application process.
As per IRCC’s findings, the two requirements of knowledge and language are difficult, especially for the refugees and people with low language proficiency and education. These requirements can be waived-off on compassionate grounds, but the problem is that parameters are not well-defined for these cases. As a result, most waivers end up being issued on medical grounds.
As per the process, waivers have to be requested by applicants, but the process is cumbersome, due to which there were very few waivers requested during the evaluation period.
As per IRCC, the criterion for assessing the applicant’s language ability does not always reflect the applicant’s actual language ability. Due to the assessment’s broader range and given that ability in itself is subjective, it becomes difficult for immigration officers to assess language ability. To add to this further, the officers concerned are themselves not formal assessors.
Therefore, IRCC is inclined upon creating a system in place to equip officers to validate language evidence and provide better support to assess language ability.
IRCC found that the study guide and knowledge test already have a higher language level requirement than the actual test itself and there is a need for more tools and support for applicants. Therefore, there are plans to implement a new approach for the knowledge requirement. Possible revisions to consist study guide or other tools to improve the accessibility of the required information.