Skip to main content

Canada proposes letting new Canadians skip citizenship ceremony, take oath online

New Canadians could soon have the option to forgo a citizenship ceremony and take their oath online as Ottawa seeks to cut processing times for citizenship applications.

The federal government is seeking feedback from the public on proposed amendments to Canada's citizenship regulations that would allow applicants to take the Oath of Citizenship through "a secure online solution, without the presence of an authorized person."

According to a policy analysis statement published in the Canada Gazette, adding the option to take the oath online without accompaniment could save three months of processing time and allow applicants to receive their citizenship faster.

In addition, the analysis statement says self-administered citizenship oaths could be a more convenient option for new Canadians, noting that citizenship ceremonies are typically held during working hours and run for around 90 minutes.

"Many clients have to take time off work to attend citizenship ceremonies, and this time off is not necessarily paid by employers," the analysis statement reads.

"This proposal would also benefit clients by providing greater flexibility in client service and promote inclusivity by allowing them to take the Oath of Citizenship in a manner that works best and at a time that is most convenient for them during the allocated time frame."

Since 1947, taking the Oath of Citizenship has been the final stage in becoming naturalized as a Canadian citizen. It involves standing in front of a citizenship judge and swearing allegiance to the King and all of his heirs and successors while vowing to observe the laws of Canada.

When COVID-19 first hit in 2020, Canada began allowing virtual citizenship ceremonies held over video conference calls.

The feds say as of October 2022, there was a backlog of 358,000 citizenship applications, with applicants waiting 24 months from the time of application to taking the oath.

Self-administered online oaths would not be mandatory under this proposal, as new Canadians would still have the option to take the Oath of Citizenship the traditional way in front of a judge, either in person or through a live video conference call.

But not everyone is on board with the proposal, including former citizenship and immigration minister Christopher Alexander.

"By abandoning a centuries-old feature of citizenship in Canada, this government is further undermining its own -- at best -- shaky commitment to safeguarding Canada's democratic institutions, national security, national defence & the rule of law," Alexander tweeted on Monday evening.

However, Vancouver-based immigration lawyer Steven Meurrens says if self-administered online oaths can speed up processing, it could be a good option, especially for those whose permanent resident cards are close to expiry.

"I believe that the citizenship oath is meaningful and am sure that many people will continue to do it. However, if it is true that scheduling ceremonies adds three months to processing time then that can complicate things for people with expiring permanent resident cards. As such, I agree that it should be optional," he told on Tuesday in an email.

If approved, the proposal is expected to come in force in June 2023. Members of the public can add their comments on the Canada Gazette website during the consultation period, which runs until March 27. Top Stories

Minimum wage rises in six provinces, but is it enough?

Amid a cost-of-living crisis driving up food bank visits and economic anxiety, the minimum wage increased in six provinces today – but both advocates and critics fear it may not be enough to tackle the overarching problem.


Stay Connected