New Canadians who have had their swearing in postponed due to the COVID-19 crisis may soon be able to take the oath in online ceremonies.
Newcomers to Canada who were about to become legally Canadian citizens and whose ceremonies were delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic may soon be able to virtually take the oath of citizenship.
Canada's federal government said in a statement sent to CBC News that it will begin implementing virtual citizenship ceremonies as quickly as possible.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) temporarily cancelled all citizenship ceremonies and tests as part of a myriad of special measures introduced in response to the global pandemic, more than two months ago. The government stated at that time that these events would be rescheduled “in the near future,” and did not provide a date for their recurrence. It also claimed that a new date and time will be provided in the coming weeks for those affected by the cancellations.
This is a positive development for prospective immigrants by IRCC as well as those already in Canada whose lives have been in abeyance since mid-March.
In the announcement, IRCC said that the virtual citizenship events would be planned to “protect the integrity of the legal process and represent the significance of the opportunity” and would be scheduled soon. No further details have yet been released and no timetable has been set.
Canadian citizenship benefits
Typically a person makes a solemn oath before a judge or official of citizenship, often in the company of other immigrants, who will also become Canadian citizens. The final legal requirement for applicants over the age of 14 who wish to become Canadian citizens is to take the oath of citizenship.
To become a citizen is a life-changing event for Canadian immigrants. It marks the end of their journey as immigrants and the start of their journey as Canadians with the same rights as people born in Canada. Such rights include voting, running for office, being able to get preferential treatment when applying for public service jobs, travelling on a Canadian passport, among others.
Newcomers must first become permanent residents in Canada in order to become Canadian citizens-a process called “naturalization.” A permanent resident of Canada may apply for citizenship after being physically present in the country in the last five years and completing Canadian income tax returns for at least 3 years. Those who wish to become citizens of Canada must also pass a test on their rights and responsibilities and prove that they speak and write in one of the official languages of Canada.
Fees for citizenship to be waived
Acquisition of citizenship is high in Canada — about 85 per cent of immigrants become Canadians.
A $530 application fee and a $100 “Right of Citizenship Fee” as part of the application process are also required.
The Liberal Party of Canada, however,—currently in power — has promised to ensure that permanent residents can apply for free Canadian citizenship.
The Liberal government’s promise to waive fees on citizenship is one of many recent policy shifts that could further, improve naturalization rates in the coming years.