British woman living in Canada for 33 years can’t get citizenship because gov’t wants proof she speaks English

53-year-old Karen Strachan has lived in Canada for 33 years, and only speaks English.

It’s not surprising since she was born in Yorkshire, England.

Despite speaking English fluently and raising two children born in Canada, her application for Canadian citizenship has been rejected because she doesn’t have proof she speaks the English language.

The government wants documentation such as school records and an ESL certificate from Strachan to prove her proficiency, even though she has repeatedly told them on the phone – in English — that she clearly speaks English.

Strachan went to school in England, but the school doesn’t exist anymore, and there is no way for her to get her high school diploma.

“It’s my own fault, I procrastinated for many years, but one of the things I decided to do this year was to get my Canadian citizenship because I understood they were changing the immigration laws,” said Strachan.

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“I’ve got two adult Canadian children here, and I’m probably going to live out the rest of my days in Canada.”

She doesn’t have her landing papers because Canada’s permanent residence card replaced papers after 9/11.  Strachan has a photocopy of her landing papers, but that was rejected as well.  A letter of understanding was also rejected.

She could go to a testing centre, but it’s $295 for a full day test.  But she’s stuck because they won’t give her her citizenship without it.

Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney said in Vancouver today he doesn’t think it’s unreasonable to ask Strachan to take the test.

“I’m sorry this lady has to go through this experience but she ought to have done the test like everyone else,” he said.

“I’ve looked at the idea of exempting people who were born in English and French-speaking countries but it was pointed out to me there are large numbers of people in those countries that don’t speak English or French.”

Strachan has her resume with numerous positions that require English proficiency, plus permanent residence status. She currently works in the human resources department of a community college.

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