February 29, 2024

What are my options if my Canadian Citizenship Application is Refused?

The path to Canadian citizenship is exciting and rewarding, but it can also be complex and involve some hurdles. While thousands successfully navigate it every year, as evidenced by the over 354,000 new citizens welcomed in 2023, it's important to be aware that applications can be refused by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). So, what happens if you face this scenario? This article delves into the two main options available to you: reapplying for citizenship and requesting a judicial review.

Understanding Application Refusal

Receiving a refusal from IRCC can be disheartening, but it's crucial to remember that it doesn't necessarily mean the end of your journey to becoming a Canadian citizen. It simply signifies that, based on the information presented in your initial application, IRCC determined that you haven't yet met all the necessary requirements.

Option 1: Reapplying for Canadian Citizenship

The good news is that you have the option to reapply for Canadian citizenship at any time following the initial refusal. There's no mandatory waiting period imposed by the federal government. However, it's essential to be strategic about the reapplication process to increase your chances of success. Here are some key points to consider:

  1. Thoroughly review the refusal letter: This document from IRCC will outline the specific reason(s) why your application was denied. Carefully analyzing these reasons helps you identify the areas where your application fell short and address them in the resubmission.
  2. Consult with an immigration lawyer: An experienced immigration professional can provide valuable guidance and support throughout the reapplication process. They can help you interpret the refusal letter, assess your eligibility, gather the necessary documentation, and strengthen your application by ensuring it adheres to all current requirements and deadlines.
  3. Address the reasons for refusal: As mentioned earlier, understanding and effectively addressing the specific reasons stated in the refusal letter is critical for a successful reapplication. This might involve gathering additional supporting evidence, clarifying any inconsistencies in your initial application, or demonstrating a deeper understanding of the Canadian citizenship requirements.
  4. Meet all eligibility requirements: Reapplying doesn't guarantee success. It's crucial to meticulously review the updated Canadian citizenship requirements and ensure you meet all the criteria before submitting your reapplication. These requirements can change over time, so it's important to consult the most recent guidelines provided by IRCC.
  5. Pay the application fee again: A new application fee needs to be paid when you reapply. Information on the current application fees can be found on the IRCC website.

Option 2: Requesting a Judicial Review

If you disagree with IRCC's decision and believe there were errors or procedural issues involved in the way your application was assessed, you can request a judicial review from the Federal Court of Canada. However, it's essential to understand that this option is distinct from appealing the decision directly.

Here's a breakdown of the judicial review process:

  1. Strict time limit: You have only 30 days from the date mentioned in the refusal letter to file an application for a judicial review. Missing this deadline nullifies your ability to pursue this option.
  2. Two-step process: The process consists of two stages: applying for leave and, if granted, the actual judicial review hearing.
  3. Applying for leave: This initial stage involves convincing the court that your case raises a "serious issue" or an "arguable issue" that merits a full judicial review. Legal representation is highly recommended for this stage as it involves complex legal arguments and procedures.
  4. Court decision: The judge can either deny or grant your application for leave.
  5. Denial of leave: If your application for leave is denied, your case goes no further, and the initial decision by IRCC stands.
  6. Leave granted: If the court grants leave, a hearing date is set, and both sides present their arguments. During this hearing, the judge assesses whether IRCC made an error in law or acted unfairly during the application process.
  7. Court's decision on review: Following the hearing, the judge may uphold IRCC's decision, overturn it, or order IRCC to reconsider your application.

Choosing the Right Path: Re-apply or Seek Judicial Review?

The decision of whether to reapply or request a judicial review is a personal one and requires careful consideration of several factors, including:

Reasons for refusal: Understanding the specific reasons for the refusal is crucial. If the reasons involve providing missing documentation or clarifying inconsistencies in your original application, reapplying after addressing those issues may be a viable option.

Strength of the case for a judicial review: If you genuinely believe there were significant errors or procedural issues affecting your initial application, and you have strong evidence to support your claims, then pursuing a judicial review might be justified.  However, seeking legal advice from an experienced immigration lawyer is crucial to assess the merits of your case and navigate the complexities of the legal process.

Financial considerations: Reapplying involves paying the application fee again, while pursuing a judicial review can be significantly more expensive due to legal fees associated with representation in court. It's essential to factor in the financial implications of each option before making a decision.

Additional Considerations:

Time commitment: Reapplying typically involves a shorter timeline compared to the judicial review process, which can take several months or even years to be resolved.

Emotional impact: Both options can be emotionally taxing, with reapplication potentially leading to a renewed sense of uncertainty and the judicial review process often being lengthy and complex.

Seeking Professional Guidance

Regardless of the path you choose, seeking professional guidance from an experienced immigration lawyer or consultant is highly recommended. They can provide vital support in understanding your options, assessing the merits of your case, navigating the complexities of the application or judicial review process, and ensuring your rights are represented effectively.


Having your Canadian citizenship application refused can be a challenging experience. However, it’s essential to remember that you have options. Carefully weighing the pros and cons of reapplying or requesting a judicial review, along with seeking guidance from an immigration lawyer, will help you make an informed decision and navigate the path forward towards achieving your Canadian citizenship dream.

Considering Migrating to Canada?

If you're aiming to migrate to Canada and are navigating the complexities of the citizenship application process, Pelican Migration Consultants can be your trusted partner.

We are a team of experienced and CICC licensed immigration consultants in Dubai dedicated to assisting individuals, families, and businesses with their Canadian immigration journeys. We offer comprehensive guidance and support throughout the entire process. We can assist you in:

  1. Understanding the reasons for your application refusal
  2. Determining the most appropriate course of action, whether reapplying or requesting a judicial review
  3. Gathering and organizing necessary documentation
  4. Preparing a strong application that adheres to all Canadian citizenship requirements
  5. Providing guidance and representation throughout the entire process

Contact Pelican Migration Consultants today for a free consultation to discuss your specific situation and explore your options for achieving your Canadian citizenship aspirations.