Newcomers to Canada who have had their swearing-in postponed due to the coronavirus crisis may soon have the opportunity to take the oath in virtual Citizenship ceremonies.
In a statement forwarded to CBC News, the federal government of Canada said it will start “to implement virtual citizenship ceremonies […] as soon as possible.”
The first online ceremonies will be open to those who “have a critical need for Canadian citizenship” as well as those who had earlier been scheduled to take the oath in person and whose events were called off due to special measures that were implemented to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) provisionally called off all citizenship ceremonies and tests more than two months ago as part of a series of special measures put in place in response to the global pandemic.
At that time, the federal government stated that these events would be suspended and postponed “in the near future” and did not provide a date for their reoccurrence. It also announced that those affected by the termination would be given a new date and time in the coming weeks.
This announcement by Canada’s immigration ministry is yet another positive development for prospective Canadians as well those already living in Canada and whose lives have been in limbo since mid-March.
IRCC said in the statement the virtual citizenship ceremonies would be created to “protect the integrity of the legal process and mirror the importance of the occasion” and would soon be scheduled. No further details have been released yet and no timetable has been made public.
Benefits of Canadian Citizenship
An individual usually takes the solemn oath before a judge or citizenship official, often in the company of other newcomers who also become Canadian citizens. Taking the oath of citizenship is the final legal requirement for prospective citizens over the age of fourteen (14) who wish to become Canadian citizens.
Becoming a Canadian citizen is a life-changing event for newcomers to Canada. It marks the end of their journey as immigrants and the beginning of their journey as Canadian citizens with the same equal rights as Canadian-born citizens. These rights include being able to vote, and be voted for, to get preferential treatments when applying for government jobs, the right to travel on a Canadian passport, among other privileges.
To become Canadian citizens—a process called “naturalization,”—new immigrants must first become Canadian permanent residents. A Canadian permanent resident can apply for citizenship after being physically present in the country for a minimum of three years in the last five years and completing Canadian income tax return. Those who wish to become Canadian citizens must first pass a test on their right and responsibilities and prove that they can speak and write in one of Canada’s official languages (English or French).
Citizenship fee set to be waived
An application fees of $530 and a “Right of Citizenship Fee” of $100 are required as part of the application processes.
However, the current political party in power (Liberal Party of Canada)—has promised to remove charges on Canadian citizenship fee for those permanent residents.
The promise by the Liberal government to remove citizenship fees is one of many recent policy reforms that could improve naturalization rates even further over the coming years.
Citizenship acquisition is very high in Canada—some eighty-five (85) per cent of immigrants become Canadian citizens.