How to Become a Citizenship Judge in Canada

By Contributing Writer

In Canada, a citizenship judge is an official who reviews citizenship applications to determine whether the applicants will make good Canadian citizens. They preside over the citizenship ceremonies for new Canadian citizens and administer the oath of citizenship. This is their only function; they are not judges in the traditional sense of presiding over civil or criminal trials. Citizenship judges simply need to be respectable members of the community. Citizenship judges are appointed for a particular region of Canada on recommendations from the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.

Citizenship Judges must be Canadian citizens, although they do not have to be born in Canada. In fact, many citizenship judges are naturalized citizens who came to Canada from other countries and see becoming a citizenship judge as a way to give something back to their adopted country.

As English and French are the official languages of Canada, Citizenship Judges must speak at least one of these languages with fluency.

Since citizenship judges will be deciding whether other people should be allowed to become citizens of Canada, they must be worthy citizens themselves. This requirement i typically means that the Advisory Panel that reviews applications likes to see experience with volunteer or professional organizations. Some current citizenship judges have served with organizations including the Catholic Civil Rights League, the Nova Scotia Arts Council and the Advanced Education Council of British Columbia.

You begin the application process by sending your CV and any other information you think might be relevant to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (address below). A simple cover letter indicating your interest and why you believe you would be a good citizenship judge is all you need. There is no actual application form.

Candidates who appear to meet the initial requirements of citizenship, language skills and background will be invited to take an essay test. The test asks questions designed to evaluate the candidate's judgment, cultural sensitivity, analytical thinking and general approach to the decision making process.

Assuming the written test goes well, candidates will be interviewed by the Advisory Panel. Once again, the purpose of the interview is to assess the candidate's knowledge of Canada, commitment to the citizenship process, interactive communication skills and self-control.

Once the written essay and interview are complete, references checked and all the paperwork assembled, the Advisory Panel will forward the information and their own reports to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration for his or her consideration. From this point on, there's nothing else you can do. The Minister will either select you or not. Appointments can be full or part-time, and typically last no longer than three years. Some judges may be re-appointed.