There are many benefits that come with obtaining Canadian citizenship. At the top of this list are having the same rights and responsibilities as a natural Canadian citizen and being able to vote in federal, provincial and municipal Canadian elections. But before you can apply to become a Canadian citizen, you will have to make sure you meet all the requirements.
The Benefits of Canadian Citizenship
As mentioned above, you can expects a number of great benefits once you bag that coveted Canadian citizenship. These include:
- A Canadian passport
- Greater access to job opportunities
- An end to having to renew your status in Canada
- Increased protection against having your status taken away
What You Need to Become a Canadian Citizen
You will have to tick several boxes to prove you are eligible for Canadian citizenship. You must:
- Have Canadian Permanent Residency
- Have been living in the country for at least three out of the last five years
- Be tax compliant, if applicable to you
- Pass your Canadian citizenship test
- Demonstrate your proficiency in at least one of Canada's official languages
Let’s explore all these eligibility requirements below.
Canadian Permanent Residency
If you wish to apply to become a Canadian Citizen, you must have Canadian Permanent Residency. This applies to all ages. As a permanent resident, you cannot:
- Be under investigation for immigration or fraud-related issues
- Have a removal order to your name
- Have outstanding elements on your PR status. This could be a medical exam you didn't take, etc.
Important: Before you submit a citizenship application, take a look at the documents sent to you when you got permanent residency to ensure eligibility for Canadian citizenship.
You won't need a valid PR card to start your citizenship application. You'll be able to apply with a PR card that has expired.
Your Physical Presence in Canada
You must have lived in Canada for three years (1,095 days) during the five years before you sign and submit your citizenship application
It's always safer to apply when you have more than 1,095 days of living in Canada if there's a calculation problem. Having extra days would then work to your advantage.
Proficiency in at Least One of Canada's Official Languages
You must meet the minimum language requirements in either English or French. Applicants between the ages of 18 and 54 will be required to show proof of their language proficiency. Your language skills are measured by:
- Reviewing the proof you submit when you apply;
- Checking how well you communicate when you talk to a citizenship official at any point within the process;
- Evaluating your language proficiency during a hearing with a citizenship official, if necessary.
You will need to meet the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) Level 4 or higher to become a citizen.
Pass Your citizenship test
Everyone 18 to 54 years of age on the day they sign their application will have to take the citizenship test. This test consists of questions about the rights and responsibilities of Canadians and Canada's history, geography, economy, government, law and symbols.
You may take the test in English or French. It's 30 minutes long, with 20 multiple-choice and true or false questions. You'll need to get 15 answers correct to pass. The test can also be taken orally or written.
There are additional requirements for Canadian citizenship if you are:
- Submitting an application for a minor;
- a Canadian citizen who wants to apply for citizenship of an adopted child who was not born in Canada;
- a current or former Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) member who is applying via the fast-track process; and
- A former Canadian citizen wishing to regain Canadian citizenship.
You must not have a criminal history that will stop the granting of Canadian citizenship. This means you can’t:
- Be under review for immigration or fraud reasons;
- Be asked by Canadian officials to leave Canada; and
- Have unfulfilled conditions related to your permanent resident status. This for example, medical screening
Several factors can work against you and the success of receiving Canadian citizenship. Applications will be denied if you:
- Are not Canadian permanent residents;
- Do not meet or cannot provide proof of the minimum residency requirements;
- Don't meet the minimum language proficiencies in either English or French;
- Fail their Canadian citizenship test and/or interview;
- Have been ordered to leave Canada;
- Have been convicted of a criminal offence in the last three years;
- Have had their citizenship revoked;
- Are on parole, probation, or are in prison; and
- Have been convicted or are under investigation for a crime against humanity or a war crime.
Spouses, Children and Grandchildren of Canadian Citizens
You will not automatically gain Canadian citizenship once you get married to a Canadian citizen. The same applies if you are a Canadian spouse.
In a case where you have a Canadian parent or grandparent, you could be a Canadian citizen.
Become a Canadian Citizen
Now that you know exactly which boxes you'll have to tick off to be eligible for Canadian citizenship, prepare to get the ball rolling with your application.
Need some help with the process? CanadianVisa.org works alongside Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs) who are experts within the Canadian immigration field. The RCICs can assist you on how to apply for Canadian citizenship and even submit it on your behalf.
Do I Have to Give up my Natural Citizenship to Become a Canadian Citizen?
No, because Canada allows dual citizenship, so you can keep your former nationality. You do, however, need to check with your country of origin if they recognize dual or multi-citizenships as well.
Does Time Spent Before Becoming a Permanent Resident Count Towards the Minimum Residency Requirement?
Yes, each day you spend in Canada as a temporary resident as a student, visitor, worker or protected person before receiving permanent residence counts for one half-day. You're able to use up to 365 days to count towards the 1,095-day requirement.