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A Guide to Canadian Citizenship Requirements And Who Can Apply

Updated: July 24th, 2023

You've watched the home channels showcasing Canadian suburbia at its best, drooled at the posts documenting the country's vibrant foodie culture, and read the reports of all the promising job prospects available in the Great White North over the last few months. If that's not a sign that Canada's calling, we don't know what is! With the Canadian Government's goal of welcoming 500,000 immigrants per year by 2025, the time has never been better to set off on your journey to becoming a Canuck. So let's explore all the Canadian Citizenship requirements and get you on your way to frolicking amongst the maple leaves.

What is Canadian Citizenship?

Canadian citizenship is granted to people born within Canada or who have immigrated to Canada and applied for citizenship. Being a Canadian citizen allows you to truly be a part of the Canadian population. It gives you specific rights, privileges, and responsibilities, such as:

  • The right to vote,
  • The right to live and work in Canada,
  • The right to travel abroad with a Canadian passport, and the duty to obey Canadian laws
  • Canadian citizens are also eligible for certain government benefits.

Eligibility Requirements for Canadian Citizenship

Eligibility Requirements for Canadian Citizenship | A Guide To Canadian Citizenship Requirements And Who Can Apply

While Canadian citizens have many perks, these perks are only open to those deemed eligible for citizenship. To qualify for Canadian citizenship, you must meet the requirements set by the Canadian Government. You must:

  • Have Canadian Permanent residency
  • Have lived in the country for at least 1095 days out of five years
  • Have taken and passed the Canadian citizenship test
  • Demonstrate proficiency in English and/or French.

It's important to note that there will be additional Canadian citizenship requirements under the following circumstances:

  • When applying for an individual under 18
  • If you're a Canadian citizen applying for citizenship for a child you are adopting from a different country
  • If you are currently or used to be a member of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and apply through a fast-track process
  • If you're a former citizen of Canada and want to regain citizenship

Canadian Permanent Residency Status

Regardless of how old you are, you'll have to obtain Canadian permanent residency if you apply to become a citizen of the Great White North. If you still need to get your permanent resident status, there are several pathways to Canadian permanent residency. The two most popular permanent residency pathways are the Express Entry System and the Provincial Nominee Programs.

The Express Entry System

The Express Entry system is Canada's most popular immigration pathway. This is because, under this system, skilled foreign workers and their families can get permanent residence in Canada in as little as six months.

Here's a full breakdown of the Express Entry system, its eligibility requirements, and how to apply.

Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs)

As Canada is a massive country, the different provinces have labor demands and shortages in different industries. To alleviate this, 11 of Canada's 13 provinces have specific programs designed to give permanent residency to those nominated by their specific province. Each province has numerous streams within its PNPs.

If you already have permanent residency, you must have lived in Canada as a permanent resident before you can apply for citizenship.

Time Spent Living In Canada

This refers to time physically spent living in Canada. Try to apply for Canadian citizenship only once you have spent over 1,095 days in the country out of the last five years. This applies to minors as well.

Top Tip

You can track your time outside Canada by keeping a travel log book. This will assist in keeping track of your time spent in the country.

Taxes Filed in Canada

There's a chance you'll have to submit your tax returns in Canada for a minimum of three out of five years before applying for Canadian citizenship. Make sure that you find out if you are due to file tax returns, and if you are, make sure you know which income tax package to use, how to submit your tax returns, and when to do it.

You must submit a tax return if:

  • You're eligible to pay taxes for the 12 months
  • Need a tax refund
  • Require tax breaks or benefits

Learn more about Canada's tax system.

Document Requirements for Canadian Citizenship

When you apply for Canadian citizenship, you must provide certain documents to prove your eligibility. These documents may include proof of:

  • Your identity,
  • Your residency in Canada,
  • Your Canadian income tax filing, and
  • Your criminal record or lack thereof.
  • You may also need to provide additional documents, such as a birth or marriage certificate.

Financial Requirements for Canadian Citizenship

You must also meet specific financial requirements to be eligible for Canadian citizenship. For example, you must have enough money in the bank to support yourself and your family for at least three years. You must also have no outstanding debts to the Canadian Government, such as student loan debt.

Here is our breakdown of required settlement funds and how you can prove you have sufficient funds to your immigration authority.

Language Requirements for Canadian Citizenship

In addition to the other eligibility requirements, you must meet specific Canadian citizenship language requirements. You must meet the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) Level four or higher. Being able to do this shows that you can:

  • Communicate effectively when you get to Canada
  • Get by using at least a basic level of grammar and construct simple sentences
  • Have a basic vocabulary
  • You will likely have to pass a Canadian language test to prove this. The two government-approved English tests are the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and the Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP).

Each of these tests has its benefits and drawbacks. Find out more about how these tests work and which is best for you here.

The Citizenship Test

As with the language tests, you must take a Canadian citizenship test if you are 18 and older. The test will be conducted in either French or English. It runs for 30 minutes and consists of 20 multiple-choice questions. You'll have to get 15 of them correct to pass. It will test your knowledge of:

  • Canadian history
  • Canadian geography
  • The economic climate in Canada
  • The government of Canada
  • Canadian regulations and laws
  • Relevant Canadian signs and symbols.

Canadian Citizenship Oath

Once you've passed the citizenship test, you must take the Canadian citizenship oath. This is a legal oath that you must swear to become a citizen of Canada. The oath promises to obey Canadian laws and respect the rights and freedoms of all citizens.

If you want to know more about ensuring you submit your best Canadian citizenship application, check out these seven tips to give you your best chance possible.

What Can Stop You From Becoming a Canadian Citizen

What Can Stop You From Getting Canadian Citizenship | A Guide To Canadian Citizenship Requirements And Who Can Apply

Several factors could cause the rejection of your citizenship application, even if you fulfill all the eligibility criteria. Your application may be rejected if:

  • You are under investigation or have been found guilty of immigration, fraud, or other criminal offenses,
  • You are out on parole, probation, or currently in prison
  • You have ever been commanded to leave Canada via a removal order,
  • You don't meet the requirements for Canadian permanent residency, and
  • Have followed the terms and conditions of your permanent residency.

If your application is rejected, this handy guide will help you to determine your next steps. However, if you want to ensure your application won't be rejected, it's best to have a certified expert like a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC).

How to Apply for Canadian Citizenship

How to Apply for Canadian Citizenship | A Guide To Canadian Citizenship Requirements And Who Can Apply

Now that you know more about Canadian Citizenship requirements, here's a quick rundown of how to apply.

Step 1: Confirm Your Eligibility

Make sure you meet the eligibility requirements mentioned above.

Step 2: Follow the Application Process

You must complete your application form and send your application to the following address provided by the IRCC.

Step 3: Make Sure You Pass the Canadian Citizenship Test

You must take the citizenship test and score enough to pass.

Step 4: Go For Your Canadian Citizenship Interview

You must go to a local citizenship office to review your documents.

Step 5: Take The Canadian Citizenship Oath

This is the final requirement to become a Canadian citizen. You will receive a Notice to Appear to attend a citizenship ceremony and take your oath of citizenship before a citizenship judge or presiding official.


Do I Need to be in Possession of a Valid PR Card to be Able to Apply For Canadian Citizenship?

You won't require a valid PR card for your Canadian citizenship application. You are allowed to apply with an expired one.

What if I've Committed a Criminal Offense in Another Country?

If you have been found guilty of a crime outside of Canada, it's possible that you won't qualify for citizenship for a determined amount of time.

What Happens if My Application is Found to be Incomplete?

If officials find your application complete, it will be returned to you, along with a letter detailing what is incomplete and how to fix it. The letter could identify any missing paperwork or fees and inform you whether a new set of paperwork will be required.

What Happens if I Fail My Canada Citizenship Test?

If your attempt at the Canadian citizenship test is unsuccessful, you can retake it in about four to eight weeks. If this happens a second time round, you could be instructed to attend an interview with a citizenship official.

If I'm A Spouse of a Canadian Citizen, Does That Mean I'm Also a Citizen?

Being married to a Canadian citizen does not grant you automatic citizenship. You'll have to meet all the same criteria as everyone else who wishes to apply.

Are the Children and Grandchildren of Canadian Citizens Also Citizens?

If you have a Canadian parent or grandparent, there's a good chance you're also a Canadian citizen. If you were born in another country to one or two parents born in Canada or became a citizen before birth.

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