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Was your Canadian citizenship denied?

The Citizenship Act of Canada clearly states situations that may prevent one from becoming a Canadian citizen. To be eligible to apply for Canadian citizenship, you must not:

  • Be on parole or probation or serving a long-term sentence in Canada
  • Be serving a sentence outside of Canada
  • Be charged with, on trial for or involved in an indictable offence in Canada
  • Be charged with, on trial for or appealing an offence outside Canada that is considered equivalent to an indictable offence in Canada
  • Be under a removal order (if you have received an order by the IRCC to leave Canada)
  • Be charged with, on trial for, convicted of or being investigated for a war crime or a crime against humanity
  • Have had a citizenship application refused based on misrepresentation in the last 5 years
  • Have had your Canadian citizenship revoked on the grounds of fraud in the past 10 years
  • Have been convicted of terrorism, treason, spying offenses or spying offenses while in Canada as a permanent resident
  • Have served as a member of an armed group in a country that engaged in armed conflict with Canada while you were a permanent resident
  • Have never met or no longer meet the requirements of a grant or resumption of citizenship.
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If any of the situations above apply to you, you cannot qualify for Citizenship in Canada until the situation no longer applies.

What to do if your Canadian citizenship application is refused

If you had applied for Canadian citizenship and your application has been refused, you can generally re-apply, assuming that the refusal was simply on the basis that you are not meeting the residency requirements. When submitting a new application, ensure that you now meet the criteria, and provide all the necessary documents and forms. This also means that you will need to pay a new application fee. You can re-apply immediately after receiving a refusal. There is no waiting period before you can re-apply. Just ensure that you have met all the minimum requirements for Canadian citizenship.

If a citizenship application is refused for reasons which prevent a re-application, then applicants may seek a judicial review of the decision by the Federal Court of Canada. A judicial review is not an appeal of the decision made by the IRCC. It is an examination that is done by the court to determine if the process that led to the decision was fair and reasonable, and otherwise in accordance with the law. If it is determined that the process was not lawful, the court may overturn the decision and order a re-determination of the case.

The Canadian citizenship application process

When you file a Citizenship application, you will have to attend and pass the knowledge of Canada test. Any applicants between the ages of 18 and 54 must demonstrate an adequate knowledge of Canada to be granted citizenship. This test is based on the information that is contained in a government handbook called Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship.

This booklet is given to the applicant in advance and it contains brief information about the history of Canada, its social and political structure among other information. The knowledge of Canada test is administered in writing and contains 20 multiple-choice questions. You need at least 15 marks to pass this test. If you fail this test the first time, you have an opportunity to retake and if you fail again, you will be given an interview with a citizenship officer who will conduct the test orally.

In cases where the immigration officer is not satisfied that the applicant has met the residency requirement to qualify for citizenship, he/she issues a residency questionnaire. This allows the applicant to provide additional documentation to prove that they have been in Canada for the required time. This can result in a significant delay in the processing of your citizenship application.

Even after filling the residency questionnaire, the immigration authority may still have concerns as to whether the applicant has met the residency requirement. The applicant may be invited for an interview with a citizenship judge who will raise the concerns that come up from the application and then make a final decision.

Applicants who meet the residency requirements and have passed the language and knowledge of Canada test will be invited for a citizenship ceremony. Part of the ceremony includes swearing an oath of loyalty to Canada as well as receiving a document that confirms their citizenship status.

Applicants who receive a refusal have the option to appeal to the Federal Court within 30 days. The court will then review the decision and determine if it was made legally. If the court finds that the decision was made illegally i.e. the decision was unfair, unreasonable and not within jurisdiction, then the case will be sent back to the immigration authorities with an order for a re-decision to be made that is according to the law.

Requirements for permanent residents to qualify for citizenship

Permanent residents of Canada can apply for citizenship.  There are certain eligibility criteria that you must meet to apply for Canadian citizenship:

  • You must prove that you can speak and write in one of Canada’s official languages (either English or French). If you do not send adequate proof of your knowledge of English or French, the IRCC will return your application as incomplete.
  • You must be a permanent resident of Canada
  • You must have lived in Canada as a permanent resident for at least 1095 days (3 years) out of the 5 years before applying. Minors do not need to meet this residency requirement.
  • You must have filed your taxes for at least 3 years during the last 5 years
  • You must have paid any income tax you owe

Members of the Canadian Armed Forces may be eligible for the fast-track application process. You may need to apply for proof of citizenship to be recognized as a Canadian citizen if one of your parents was born in Canada depending on when you were born.

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