How long is it taking for Canadian citizenship certificates to be issued?
Up until very recently the processing time for Canadian Citizenship certificate replacement was approximately 6 months and was approximately 6 months to 1 year for a first-time application for proof of Canadian citizenship. It had been this timeframe for many years and even through 2020 it remained. IRCC clearly stated on their website that due to covid-19, this timeframe was subject to change.
Last week the processing time was officially increased to 15 months on the IRCC website, after the processing time had already drastically increased without any acknowledgement from IRCC. They also specify that there will be long delays before the acknowledgment of receipt is issued. Our office can confirm this is accurate as we have had many clients who have still not received their AOR email for applications submitted in 2020. IRCC also confirms that first time or renewal applicants from outside of Canada will have to wait even longer than 15 months.
It has always been the case that applications for someone’s first proof of citizenship certificate have taken longer than the processing time posted on the IRCC website. This is because, unless the applicant has identification which is issued in either Canada or the United States, or has more than one passport as ID, the application cannot be submitted directly to Case Processing Centre Sydney in Sydney, Nova Scotia; instead it would have to be submitted to the Canadian Embassy responsible for the country where the applicant resides in order to first verify that the identity documents provided are authentic, and then the application would be forwarded from the embassy to CPC Sydney where it would go through the normal citizenship certificate issuance process.
How can I speed up the processing of my citizenship certificate application?
It is possible to request that IRCC process your proof of citizenship application urgently. In order to make a request for urgent processing, you need to have reasonable grounds for the request, such as the need to:
- access benefits like:
- a pension
- health care
- a Social Insurance Number
- prove you’re a Canadian citizen to accept a job offer in Canada
- enroll in a Canadian college/university
- join the Canadian Forces
- travel to or from Canada because of a death or serious illness in your family if you would otherwise require a visa
- renew your Canadian passport to travel outside Canada urgently
This list is NOT comprehensive – there are lots of other reasons why a request for urgency may be approved for a citizenship certificate application.
It is entirely at the discretion of IRCC whether to accept an applicant’s proof of urgency for a proof of Canadian citizenship application. Not all requests are accepted, and urgent processing is never guaranteed. Our staff has 15 years of experience submitting urgent citizenship certificate applications for our clients, and we have the following observations:
- Urgent processing requests are far more likely to be approved for an application to replace a lost or destroyed Canadian citizenship card or certificate than for a first time applicant who has never had proof of Canadian citizenship before
- It is not enough to say that the application is urgent – documentation proving the reason for urgency must be included
- Even with applications which are approved after urgent processing, the certificates are still sent out via regular mail (Canadapost) and cannot be tracked
If you have a reason to require your proof of citizenship sooner than usual, then your application can be submitted with a request to issue your citizenship certificate urgently.
I am already a Citizen of Canada – Why is it taking so long?
The impact of covid-19 is unprecedented and has had extremely negative impacts on Canadian citizenship and immigration processing times. Canadian citizenship applications have been among the hardest hit as these applications were de-prioritized in order to allow IRCC staff to focus on other types of applications that the government deemed more urgent, such as family reunification.
The original citizenship certificate has always been required to apply for a first Canadian passport, or renew a passport that had been expired for over one year – a photocopy of a citizenship certificate is not acceptable in this case (see image below). Passport Canada has currently extended the time that a passport can be renewed rather than having to apply for a passport as if it is the first time: many passports expired after February 2019 can be renewed without the need for extra documentation.
I’m having trouble checking the status of my citizenship certificate application.
The only way you can check the status of your proof of citizenship application on the IRCC website is if you have received an application number, which will be in your acknowledgement of receipt email. You can use your UCI (unique client identifier) number, however without the application number you will not be in the IRCC system yet.
It is only when the AOR is issued with the application number that you can then enter the IRCC online portal to see the status of your citizenship certificate application.
There are occasions that, even with the application number, you still cannot see an updated status. When this happens you are encouraged to submit a webform through the IRCC website to request any information on your application.
If you are thinking of applying for your first citizenship certificate or replacing a lost or stolen Canadian citizenship card or certificate, contact our office for assistance.