Canadian Citizenship Revocation
Canada Citizenship Immigration Application and Refusal Revocation
What is Citizenship Revocation?Under subsection 10(1) of the Citizenship Act, naturalised Canadian citizens can lose their Canadian citizenship if they obtained it by false representation, fraud or by knowingly concealing material circumstances in the citizenship application process or in the process of obtaining permanent residence. If you are suspected of having obtained your citizenship in a fraudulent manner, you are entitled to due process before your citizenship is revoked. This means, at a minimum, you will receive a notice of the allegations and disclosure of the evidence against you, and an opportunity to respond in writing before a final decision is made. The process will be initiated by the Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship, but you (the citizen) have the option of having the final decision made by either the Minister or by the Federal Court.
Changes to the Citizenship Revocation ProcessOn June 19, 2017, Bill C-6, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act, received Royal Assent. As a result of this Bill, citizenship revocation decisions are now made by the Federal Court, unless the individual facing possible revocation requests the case be decided by the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship. This move is aimed at enhancing fairness in the citizenship revocation process by giving individuals a chance to have their case heard by an independent judicial body. It applies to all revocation cases, including those related to security, international rights violations, or organized criminality.
How Citizenship Revocation Begins
An individual subject to revocation proceedings remains entitled to all the rights and privileges of Canadian citizenship unless and until their citizenship is revoked.
If the immigration and citizenship authorities suspect that there was a case of false representation, fraud, or knowingly concealing material circumstances, the citizen’s file will be reviewed by the Citizenship and Passport Cases Division to determine whether revocation proceedings should be commenced.
Before initiating revocation proceedings, the authorities will usually send a “Request for Information Letter” detailing the allegations against the citizen. The citizen will then have an opportunity to provide a written response. Based on the response, the citizenship authorities will decide whether to begin the formal process of revoking citizenship.
If a decision is made to commence citizenship revocation proceedings, IRCC will issue a formal “Notification Letter Concerning Your Canadian Citizenship.” This notification letter is required under subsection 10(3) of the Citizenship Act, which states that the Minister must provide written notice to a person whose citizenship or renunciation of citizenship may be revoked. This letter typically provides 60 days to provide written submissions and documentary evidence to be considered before a final decision is made. This letter formally initiates the revocation process, and invites the citizen to respond to the allegations against them and to provide any information related to their personal circumstances that would warrant not taking away their citizenship.
There are two main defences in a citizenship revocation proceeding.
- The first is to contest that there was a fraud in the process of obtaining permanent residence or citizenship.
- The second is to request consideration of personal circumstances. In this regard, the citizenship authorities can waive a fraud in the citizenship process if there are compelling reasons related to the citizen’s personal circumstances that warrant allowing them to keep their citizenship. In order to argue personal circumstances, the citizen must request that the Minister decide their case. The Federal Court does not have jurisdiction to consider personal circumstances.
Response submissions can describe the citizen’s personal circumstances, including, but not limited to:
- Length of time spent in Canada before and after acquiring citizenship;
- Establishment and connection to Canada before and after becoming a citizen;
- The presence of family in Canada;
- The best interest of a child directly affected by the revocation proceeding;
- Whether the decision could render the citizen stateless;
- A description of any hardships that the citizen may experience if their citizenship is revoked;
- Any hardship in the home country if the citizen is forced to return.
If the Minister serves as the decision-maker, then an additional step is added to the revocation process. Now, the authorities will decide whether an oral hearing should be scheduled. An oral hearing may be scheduled if there is a serious issue of credibility, or if the citizen is unable to provide submissions in writing.
The Minister must consider all of the circumstances of the case before making a decision. This means that any fraud that occurred is only a threshold issue of whether there is a basis for revocation. Having found fraud, the Minister must also consider your personal circumstances, including any humanitarian and compassionate factors, such as the hardship that would be caused to your and your family before coming to a conclusion as to whether citizenship should be revoked.
If you request that the Federal Court decide the case, then the matter will proceed as an action at the court. The Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship will commence an action before the Federal Court to obtain a declaration that you obtained, retained, renounced, or resumed your citizenship by false representation, fraud or knowingly concealing material circumstances. If the Federal Court makes this declaration, your citizenship will be revoked. The Minister only needs to prove that a fraud occurred for the revocation to occur.
As such, it is important to carefully consider which process you will choose. Choosing the Federal Court to decide your case is better suited if you hope to prove that you did not commit a fraud. The process before the Minister is more suited if you intend to rely on humanitarian and compassionate or personal considerations. An experienced immigration lawyer can help you decide which process is best suited for your situation.
How We Can Help You
Here’s how we can help you:
The Immigration Law Firm of Matthew Jeffery has over 20 years of experience specializing in handling citizenship revocation with high success rates. To see if we are able to help you with your citizenship revocation, fill out our FREE Appeals Assessment form.
Appealing a Revocation of Citizenship Decision to the Federal Court
If the authorities decide to revoke your citizenship, it may be possible to appeal the decision.
Individuals who requested that the Minister be the decision-maker may seek leave to judicially review the Minister’s decision at the Federal Court.
The process begins by filing an application to the Federal Court for “leave”, which means that you (the applicant) must persuade the court that the Minister’s decision is debatable and that there is a real issue that the decision was made erroneously.
This is not a full appeal in that no new evidence can be provided, and nor is there any testimony from witnesses. The court will review the decision in light of the evidence that was before the decision-maker and will decide if the decision was arrived at legally. You must file the application for leave to begin the application for judicial review within thirty (30) days of the refusal letter. If leave is granted, the matter is heard by the court in an oral hearing at the Federal Court. The court can either uphold the decision or quash it and return it to the citizenship authorities for redetermination. In this situation, you will not be considered a Canadian citizen again until and unless the court quashes the Minister’s decision to revoke your citizenship.
Decisions made by the Federal Court to revoke citizenship are usually final. They can only be appealed to the Federal Court of Appeal if, in rendering its judgement, the Federal Court certified a serious question of general importance for consideration by the Federal Court of Appeal.
The Effect of Citizenship Revocation
The effect of revocation varies from case to case. Those who perpetrated a fraud in the citizenship application process will lose their citizenship and revert to being permanent residents. However, those who perpetrated a fraud in the process of obtaining their permanent residence will lose both their citizenship and their permanent residence and will revert to being foreign nationals, or in some cases, will be rendered stateless. Those who lose all status will then be subject to removal proceedings.
The Citizenship Act (Paragraph 22(1)(f)) states that any person whose citizenship is revoked is prohibited from being granted Canadian citizenship for 10 years. As such, the revocation of citizenship is a serious matter and involves complex legal proceedings that will permanently affect an individual’s status in Canada.
At the Law Office of Matthew Jeffery, we have over 20 years of experience assisting those going through the citizenship revocation process. We specialize in complex cases. Submit your case by filling out our Free Appeals Assessment Form to see if we can help you.