Can I become a citizen if I can’t pass the citizenship test?

4. Get evidence to show that you need a waiver

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) can give you a for “compassionate” reasons so you don't have to meet the requirements to:

IRCC will say that you need to get medical to convince them that they should give you a waiver. But the law says they have to consider any “compassionate” reasons.

IRCC will also ask you to get a medical opinion. This means that a doctor puts in writing that you have a medical condition that stops you from ever meeting a requirement.

But there are many other reasons why people can't meet the requirements for knowing English or French, or having enough knowledge of Canada.

Below are some examples. These are only examples. You may have other reasons.

Low literacy

Some people have little or no chance to go to school and learn to read and write in their own language. For example, they might be from a country where girls can't go to school. Or they may have spent years living in refugee camps.


Sometimes people have difficulty learning if they're suffering from trauma. Many refugees experience trauma because of what they lived through.

Learning disability

A learning disability might not be something that a doctor would call a permanent or severe disability. But it can prevent someone from meeting the requirements.

Cost of language courses or texts

Someone with a low income might not have enough money to take language courses or pay for the tests to show how well they speak English or French. And they might not qualify for free programs.

Life circumstances

Some people can't take language classes. For example, they might have to work long hours, look after children, or take care of other family members.

Other reasons

If you have other reasons for not being able to meet the requirements, you must explain to IRCC what they are.

Evidence that can help you

It can be helpful to get a letter or other document that helps explain the reasons why you need a waiver.

For example, you might be able to get:

  • a report from a professional who can diagnose a learning disability
  • a report from a counsellor who helps people with trauma
  • documents that show you lived somewhere, like a refugee camp, where you couldn't go to school
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