This week was supposed to be filled with thousands of people taking an oath to become Canadian citizens.
But due to COVID-19, Canada’s Citizenship Week, scheduled for May 18 to 24, has been put on hold “until further notice, to keep everyone safe,” the federal government says on its website.
Along with the ceremonies, people are waiting longer for permanent residency cards and citizenship tests, which some people had been booked more than a year ago, are also on hold.
Jennifer Roggemann is an immigration lawyer in Kitchener, Ont. She says delays due to the pandemic will only add to the wait times people are already experiencing.
“Some of my clients filed for citizenship in January or February of last year. We were getting the citizenship test dates for March and April [of this year],” Roggemann said.
“One girl just missed it by two weeks. She waited for 14 months to do that test to become a permanent citizen and all in-person meetings are now postponed.”
Delay in permanent resident cards
Roggemann says the delays will also impact people who needed their citizenship in order to work. Citizenship ceremonies still have to be done in person and in front of a judge so to move it to a virtual setting, there would need to be a change in federal legislation, she said.
People who needed a permanent resident card have also found the documents are taking longer to arrive. Roggemann says it used to take about 30 days for a person to receive a resident card. The pandemic has extended that to six months.
Roggeman says it’s a travel document. With the federal government limiting travel due to COVID-19, she says people may wonder why people may be eager to get the card.
“The problem is they use that card to renew everything provincially like your drivers licence and health card and you need to show that card,” she said.