Dear Miss Powell,I read your articles all the time and I'm happy that you are helping Jamaicans worldwide. I read recently where you talk about the benefits of being a Canadian citizen, and I am interested in applying for citizenship for me and my family. I am a 55-year-old woman and my husband just turned 60. We also have our granddaughter living with us. She is 19 years old. I am worried that at my age, I will not be able to pass the test. What can I do to ensure that I pass the test? I'm very nervous about doing tests and that's why all these years I haven't applied for my citizenship. Will my granddaughter have to sit the test? What happens if we fail the test?
The citizenship test is only required for persons between 18 and 54. So fortunately, since you are 55 and your husband is 60, neither of you will be required to do a citizenship test. However, your granddaughter, who is 19, will be required to sit the test. If you meet the minimum residency requirements, after you have submitted the required application and fee, then you will be sent a letter acknowledging your application and giving you a client identification number. In that package you will also receive an official study guide entitled 'Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship'. You should all read the information as you learn some interesting Canadian history, facts and your rights and responsibilities as citizens; however, only your granddaughter will be required to do the test.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) website has a copy of the book in the latest formats. If your granddaughter has an iPhone or BlackBerry she may download the free 'Discover Canada Study App', which is very handy.
Your granddaughter should start preparing for the test as soon as she receives the information. She should bear in mind that the processing time is approximately 21 months. She will be sent a notice of the date, time, and location for the test. If she changes her address, she needs to notify CIC so that her record can be updated.
The test usually focuses on evaluating your knowledge of Canada and your language skills. The answers are all found in the book. Some topics that are included are:
1. Responsibilities and rights of citizenship;
2. Physical and political geography;
3. Canadian history;
4. Symbols and emblems;
5. Founding people, aboriginals and famous Canadians;
6. Government and basic laws.
There are practice questions on the CIC website. There are also several groups that host information sessions. This fall, I will host another information session at my office in Ottawa. We will review citizenship material and do practice questions. Information will be posted on my Facebook page and website.
The test can be done in either written or oral format. Individuals may choose the best format based on comfort level. If an individual has problems reading or writing English or French, he/she may sit the test with a citizenship judge who will administer the questions and record the answers. If you fail the written test, you will be given another opportunity to do your test orally with a citizenship judge. If you fail both tests, you may appeal the results or simply reapply.
Once the test has been completed successfully, and if all the citizenship requirements have been met, then you will be invited to a citizenship ceremony via mail. Since you are not sitting the exam, you can expect the invitation to the ceremony, when CIC has processed your application. You may invite your friends and relatives to this ceremony. At the ceremony you will be required to take the oath of citizenship, sign the oath form, and you will be given a citizenship certificate.
After you receive your citizenship certificate, you can apply for your Canadian passport to use as an official travel document.
Do not worry about your granddaughter. I'm sure that if she studies the book received, does the practice questions, and even attends some information sessions, she will pass. Good luck to you and your family!
Deidre S. Powell is a lawyer, mediator, and notary public who is a member of the Jamaican and Ontario, Canada, bars with main office located in Ottawa, Ontario. Her areas of practice are in immigration, real estate, personal injury, family and administration of estates. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Subject line: Immigration.