Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) implemented new Canadian citizenship waivers and accommodations in September 2023.
Furthermore, the IRCC has also added waivers based on non-medical compassionate grounds, making it easier for some to get Canadian citizenship.
IRCC will now be offering official language and knowledge of Canada (including responsibility and privileges of citizenship) waivers for citizenship applicants between the ages of 18 and 55 if they fall under certain categories.
Citizenship Application Accommodations
IRCC is now offering accommodations to help applicants satisfy the eligibility requirements for the citizenship application.
If an applicant meets all the other citizenship requirements, then IRCC can provide accommodations that may include:
- ensuring that any in-person event sites are wheelchair and service animal accessible, and
- interpretation services are organized to provide other versions of the study guide, oral or Braille versions of the citizenship knowledge exam, or extra time on tests
New Canadian Citizenship Waivers
Waivers come into play when accommodations are unable to accommodate a client’s demands because they do not meet specific conditions of the Citizenship Act (The Act).
So minors under 14 don’t need to take the oath of citizenship, similar to what is available for applicants aged 55 or older.
Applicants can also request waivers for language or Canadian knowledge requirements under the compassionate grounds listed below.
Canadian Citizenship Waivers on Compassionate Grounds
However, if you have a medical or non-medical circumstance (or both) that fits IRCC standards, then you can now request a waiver. This can include:
- a severe medical condition that has lasted (or may continue to last) for at least one year, such
- as a serious sickness
- a physical or developmental handicap
- a mental disability
- Trauma caused by
- living in a refugee camp or
- other similar circumstances
- low levels of literacy or education in the first language (mother tongue)
- other similar circumstances that may need a waiver
Unless their waiver request is denied, clients who request a waiver of the knowledge requirement will not be invited to the citizenship test.
Invalid Reasons for a Waiver
IRCC has also clarified that time and cost are not valid reasons for a waiver.
For example, applicants can’t ask for a waiver because they don’t have time to study for the citizenship test or because they are unable to pay for the cost of taking the language test.
How do I request a waiver for my Canadian citizenship application?
You can request one or all of the waivers for your citizenship application using a Waiver Request form (CIT 0116) by explaining why you need a waiver of language or knowledge.
IRCC has also updated the Medical Opinion Form for Citizenship Waiver (CIT 0547) so that eligible applicants can seek waivers on medical grounds.
How would the IRCC assess a waiver request?
The Case Management Branch (CMB) will make all decisions regarding knowledge, language, and oath waivers.
There will no longer be a requirement for applicants to appear at a waiver hearing; instead, CMB decision-makers will use their discretion to accept or reject a waiver request based on the supporting documentation.
Instead of using the Domestic Network (DN), the Centralized Network (CN) will send files containing waiver requests directly to the CMB.
Who can apply for Canadian citizenship?
To be eligible for Canadian citizenship, you must generally meet the following requirements:
1. You must be a permanent resident of Canada and have been physically present in Canada for at least 1,095 days (three years) out of the five years preceding your application.
2. You must have met your personal income tax filing obligations for at least three tax years within the five-year period and must demonstrate adequate knowledge of English or French (CLB/NCLC level 4). You don’t need an English or French language test if your age is less than 18 or more than 55.
3. You must demonstrate knowledge about Canada’s history, values, institutions, and rights and responsibilities by passing a citizenship knowledge test.
4. You must not be inadmissible to Canada due to certain criminal convictions.