Permanent residents are pushing IRCC to resume Canadian citizenship tests and interviews that have completely stopped in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some groups are asking for online versions of the test while others are requesting socially distant tests options be made available.
As Canada moves to modernize its immigration system, many are left wondering if online tests for citizenship will be part of that plan.
Canadian citizenship delays
Since March 14, permanent residents wishing to take their Canadian citizenship test and/or attend their citizenship interview have been unable to do so. IRCC ceased all citizenship tests, re-tests, hearings and interviews, and ceremonies in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Applicants can still submit applications for Canadian citizenship but tests or interviews are not an option.
IRCC has since resumed virtual citizenship ceremonies and 7,000 online oath ceremonies have taken place since the start of the pandemic. The resumption of Canadian citizenship ceremonies, albeit in a virtual environment, had many hoping that virtual Canadian citizenship tests and interviews would not be far behind.
Why can’t the Canadian citizenship test be online?
Many have argued that since many schools are reopening, IRCC should also be able to offer online citizenship tests to those who need it. The problem might come down to security and test integrity. Gaining Canadian citizenship is very high stakes. Gaining Canadian citizenship is very high stakes and making sure it is only given to those who have earned it appears to be the top concern for IRCC.
Why Canadian citizenship matters
While permanent residents and Canadian citizens enjoy almost all the same rights and freedoms, there are some differences. The major one being, only citizens can vote and participate in elections. The other major difference between a permanent resident and a citizen is that a citizen is eligible for a Canadian passport.
There are other differences as well. Permanent residents must abide by the residency obligation to maintain their permanent residency status, which requires living in Canada at least two out of every five years. But perhaps most importantly, being a Canadian citizen provides newcomers to Canada with a feeling of security and belonging in their new homes.
The Canadian citizenship test: what is it and who needs to take it
The Canadian citizenship test is a 30-minute test that is composed of a series of 20 questions about the rights and responsibilities of Canadians. It also includes questions on Canada’s history, geography, economy, laws and politics.
Only permanent residents between the ages of 18 to 54 are required to take the test and attend an interview. All other age demographics are exempt from taking the test, however, almost everyone must attend a citizenship interview. The interview, like the citizenship test, is not being offered at this time.