Not everyone can meet Canada’s citizenship requirements

This article discusses the possibility of waiving certain citizenship requirements.

Many people decide to immigrate to Canada with some of them choosing to relocate here in Ottawa. Like every other country, Canada requires those who wish to move to this country permanently to meet certain requirements. Most individuals between the ages of 18 and 54 must understand what being a citizen means, exhibit a minimum knowledge of the country, and show a certain level of speaking proficiency in either English or French.

The reality is that not everyone can meet these requirements for a variety of reasons. Does this mean they cannot become citizens of Canada? Perhaps not. It may be possible to obtain a waiver for one or both of these requirements.

Who does not have to meet these requirements?

Canada realizes that not everyone who wants to live in the country can meet the above requirements. First, anyone age 55 or older can avoid meeting these criteria without receiving a waiver. Everyone else will need to show a valid reason, and the following list outlines some of the more common ones:

· If someone experienced a trauma that prevents learning, he or she may receive a waiver. Most often, this involves refugees traumatized by their lives in their home countries.

· If someone's life circumstances simply do not allow for language classes, a waiver may be possible. These individuals often have children to care for, care for other family members or work long hours.

· If someone did not have the opportunity to attend school, which often happens to girls and refugees in other countries, he or she may not be able to read or write, and thus could receive a waiver.

· If someone does not have the financial resources to learn a new language and cannot qualify to attend free courses, learning English or French may not be possible.

· If someone suffers from a learning disability, he or she may receive a waiver.

It bears saying again that these are not the only reasons why someone would qualify for a waiver. They are simply the most common. An applicant wanting a waiver would need to provide some form of evidence to support the contention that meeting these immigration requirements is not possible. If it appears that an individual will need a waiver, that request needs to be included with the citizenship application. Otherwise, he or she may receive a denial for an incomplete application.

Help is available

Obtaining a waiver for not knowing English or French, not knowing enough about the country, or not knowing what it means to be a Canadian citizen is not an easy task. It probably wouldn't surprise anyone to know that immigration officials would prefer applicants to meet these requirements, so they withhold waivers only for those who truly need them. Any request will more than likely require a thorough review.

Officials want to be sure that individuals do not abuse the waiver process. In fact, an applicant will probably fail the tests associated with these requirements at least two times before immigration officials will consider a waiver. Even gaining the ability to engage in an oral test instead of a written one is not easy. To increase the chances of receiving a much needed waiver, it would be in best interests of anyone needing one to work with an experienced immigration lawyer.