- The Citizenship Act requires “adequate” knowledge of English or French, and of Canada and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship; these requirements are translated by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada to require:
- up-front proof of Canadian Language Benchmark Level 4/ Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadiens (NCLC) niveau 4, and
- achieving a score of at least 15/20 on the citizenship exam which can only be written in English or French;
- Women, refugees, and sponsored spouses’ applications for Canadian citizenship are disproportionately refused because of these particular requirements;
- There are several known factors that impede additional language acquisition including: trauma; low literacy in one’s first language; lack of access to formal education; first language distance from English/French, and socio-economic needs;
- The current “compassionate waiver” framework from these requirements emphasizes the need to prove a permanent medical condition through completion of a Medical Opinion Form;
- Challenging citizenship refusals requires obtaining leave from the Federal Court, and therefore the need to hire a lawyer;
- The citizenship fee has tripled in the past 5 years, and is now $630 for adults.
Therefore be it resolved
that the CCR call upon the Canadian government to:
- Ensure the administration of the citizenship regime conforms with the Act to:
- Reduce the language and knowledge requirements to the “adequacy” required;
- Ensure broad compassionate discretion in the assessment of waivers from language and knowledge requirements, and eliminate the Medical Opinion Form.
- Amend the Citizenship Act to:
- Remove the English/French language requirement for writing the citizenship exam
- Revert to the ability of citizenship applicants to challenge a refusal in Federal Court as of right, given the importance of the rights at stake.
- Eliminate the fee.
Immigration and Settlement