The long wait for Canadian citizenship

tiringsaid Muhammad Khalil with a sigh.

This Mauritian family man arrived in Canada in 2015 with his wife and four daughters, apparently in despair due to these delays and the lack of information from the Canadian Immigration Service.

Becoming Canadian is our dream. Its very important for us. We left our country to settle here. »

quote from Mohammad Khalil

Muhammad Khalil had been a permanent resident for several years and submitted all the necessary documents to obtain Canadian citizenship in March 2019. In November of the same year, the family took and passed the citizenship test.

But since then there has been radio silence from the federal government.

[Après l’examen]The immigration officer told me that in three months we would have an answer to “prepare” for the citizenship ceremony. Unfortunately, there was a pandemicMohammad Khalil says:

This deadline is officially listed on the Immigration Canada website.

He adds that it is really a psychological pressure. It is not specified, we do not know when we will have this party.

Mohamed Khalil and his wife Reshma are from Mauritius. They passed their citizenship test at the end of 2019 and are waiting for their birthday.

Photo: Radio-Canada

How do you become a Canadian citizen?

For an immigrant to become a Canadian citizen, he must meet several criteria. As a first step, they must obtain permanent residence. The timeline is particularly different if they live in Quebec, which has its own selection system, or in the rest of Canada. After that, they must have been physically present in Canada for at least 1,095 days, or 3 years, in the 5 years preceding their application. Knowledge of French or English is also required, as well as passing an exam on the rights and responsibilities of Canadians, as well as the history, geography, economy and laws of the country. Then the citizenship ceremony is held, including the oath.

important consequences

Adeline Menon lives a similar situation. Based in Toronto, the young woman from France has also been sick for more than two years. Worse, he was never called for a citizenship test.

Many of us feel helpless, abandoned and helplessexploded.

I live very badly this expectation. It’s a lot of stress because you don’t know when you’re going to get a reminder, email, etc. for testing. »

quote from Adeline Menon

Although citizenship grants the right to vote and a Canadian passport, it also allows you to apply for certain federal jobs that cannot be filled by permanent residents or temporary workers.

For me it is important [d’avoir cette citoyenneté]. I want to access government positionsAnd confirms Muhammad Khalil, who currently works in the public service.

Entry into the Canadian Armed Forces, for example, requires Canadian citizenship. The son of Sébastien Couturier, who has been living in Quebec for more than eight years, has a dream.

Upon graduating from high school, he planned to enlist in the Canadian Armed Forces. Passed the pre-entry exams, but it is forbidden because we did not obtain the ceremony and the citizenship certificatesorry for this original French.

Despite numerous discussions with army officials, Sébastien Couturier had to face the facts: I made sure my son had no choice. Must be a Canadian citizen when entering the training center.

My son dropped out of school. He was planning to go to the army soon… I’m worried about my son. I don’t want him to get frustrated, give up on his project and not know what to do. »

quote from Sebastien Couturier

Adeline Menon lives in Ontario. She applied for citizenship in August 2019.

Photo: Courtesy of: Adeline Menon

Ongoing virtual exams and celebrations

Mohamed Khalil, Adeline Menon, Sébastien Couturier and their families are not alone, far from it.

It has become a major concernexplains lawyer Stéphanie Valois, president of the Quebec Association of Immigration Lawyers (AQAADI), who deplores this Exponential delay.

It is total uncertainty. This problem has grown in importance over the last few months, and it is very difficult for all these people who are waiting, because it is not easy to communicate with the Canadian Immigration Service. »

quote from Stéphanie Valois, President of AQAADI

According to figures provided by Immigration Canada, more than 116,000 immigrants are currently waiting to take the citizenship test, and nearly 78,000 people who have passed the test are waiting for the final step: the taking of the oath.

About half of these citizenship applicants reside in Ontario.

Faced with this uncertainty, many immigrants are reluctant to leave the country. A former client had to return to Europe to take care of his mother. He missed a call. He then returned, but had not heard from him for months. So he is waiting to visit his elderly parentssighs Stephanie Valois.

A feeling shared by Adeline Menon, who has just given birth to a Canadian, but has not seen her family for almost two years. She also claims to have a file Afraid to travel out of fear A message from the Department of Immigration Canada And not be in the country at the time.

Screenshot of IRCC website.

The Federal Department of Immigration is currently processing citizenship applications submitted in the summer of 2019.

Photo: screenshot / IRCC

Treatment delays

On its website, the Federal Migration Administration acknowledges the existence of processing delay […] due to COVID-19. Immigration Canada also notes that it is currently analyzing applications received in August 2019, more than two years ago.

Many immigration, refugee and citizenship offices in Canada [IRCC] In Canada and around the world, they have been closed for long periods of time, leading to delays in processing cases and a host of other issues. »

quote from Official IRCC Spokesperson

However, Immigration Canada, in an email exchange with Radio Canada, says it You have come a long way since the start of the epidemic. For example, approximately 10,000 citizenship ceremonies took place between April 2020 and July 2021.

It is said that the online citizenship test was also created in November 2020. Thousands of people who want to become Canadian citizens have now completed their online examunderlines the speaker, adding that a New advanced digital platform You should see daylight.

Online exams, virtual events and video swearing remain the preferred options. »

quote from Official IRCC Spokesperson

However, Canadian immigration determines that In face-to-face restoration of citizenship servicesAbove all For those who need private accommodation.

In collaboration with Élise Allard