How to Become a Citizen of Canada
If you have been living in Canada for a few years now and would like to know how to get Canadian citizenship, you will have to see whether you are eligible first.
There are a lot of factors that determine whether or not you are eligible to apply for Canadian citizenship. You also have to know how the Canadian citizenship application works, what you will need, and how to apply.
Canadian Citizen vs Permanent Resident
A Canadian permanent resident is an individual who holds a permanent residence permit in Canada and enjoys many benefits like other citizens. The main difference is that permanent residents cannot obtain a Canadian passport, vote, or leave the country for extended periods of time (e.g., for months at a time) without risking their residency status. However, once a permanent resident has fulfilled their living criteria, they can apply for citizenship in Canada and become a full-fledged citizen.
|Canadian Citizenship||Permanent Residence|
|This is obtained after having a permanent residence for a few years.||You must first obtain a temporary residence permit that leads to permanent residency.|
|You need to have lived in Canada for three out of the last five years.||You need to renew your permit yearly.|
|There is no need to renew your citizenship.||You can live and work and have access to healthcare, social benefits, and education.|
|You can vote and be employed in governmental and high-security positions.||You cannot vote or run for seats in local, municipal, or governmental positions.|
There are a few requirements and criteria you must fill before you can apply for Canadian citizenship. Those are:
- Be a permanent resident. In order to be able to apply for Canadian citizenship, the most important condition you have to meet is to have a Canadian Permanent Resident status. This applies no matter what your age is. In addition, you must also have met all the terms and conditions of Canadian permanent residency at the time you applied for one.
- Be present in Canada at least 1095 days (3 years) in the five years immediately before your application. This condition does not apply to minors who are applying along with a parent or who have a Canadian parent. It does apply to minors who neither have a Canadian parent nor are they applying with a parent.
- File tax. If you were required to, you must have filed taxes in Canada for at least three years in the five years immediately before your application.
- Meet the language proficiency criteria. Applicants aged 18-54 have to prove they are proficient in one of Canada’s two official languages: English or French. You need to have at least the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) Level 4 if you want to become a citizen. This means that you must be able to hold a simple conversation, understand instructions, use basic grammar and be able to express yourself. To prove language proficiency you can provide
- language test scores you provided when you first immigrated (even if they are expired),
- or a certificate from a secondary/post-secondary Canadian educational institution that was in English or French.
- Have an understanding of Canadian culture and history. To prove this knowledge, you may need to enter a Citizenship test, depending on your age.
If you meet the requirements for Canadian citizenship, you can begin the application. In order to apply, you will need to provide certain documents and forms as well as pay fees. What documents and forms you need depends on your age and situation. For example, minors applying alone will need a few other documents from an adult and vice versa.
However, some of the documents you may be required to provide include:
- The application form for Canadian citizenship.
- Proof of physical presence. You can use an online calculator.
- Photocopies of the biographical pages of your passport/other travel document.
- Photocopy of your Identification Document.
- Proof of language proficiency.
- Two pictures according to Canada’s citizenship requirement.
- Receipts showing you have paid the fees.
- Residence outside Canada form (IMM 5476).
- Police certificate and clearances. They must be from any country you have lived in for more than 6 months in the past four years.
- Photocopies of documents showing name change. (If applicable).
- Photocopies of documents showing changes to date of birth. (If applicable).
- Form requesting sex designation change. (If applicable).
- Letter from a Canadian audiologist.
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How to Apply for Canadian Citizenship?
The Canadian government allows you to download all the forms you need as well as a checklist of the required documents from IRCC’s website (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada). You have to fill them in electronically, print them, then submit them.
Along with your application package, you will receive the address/es to which you can send your completed application to. You have to include all the forms and documents inside of an envelope and mail them to that address.
What happens after you apply?
Once you submit your application, and the officials reviewing it determine that you have everything you need, they will send you an acknowledgement of receipt (AOR). Along with your AOR, you will get your unique client identifier (UCI).
If you do not have everything you need, they will send it back to you and ask you to fill in what’s missing. Then, you have to resubmit your application.
Then, a few weeks after you receive the acknowledgement of receipt, they will invite you to take a Citizenship test as well as enter an interview.
How Long Does It Take to Process Canadian Citizenship Application?
The processing time for Canadian citizenship applications may vary depending on the citizenship application type (citizenship certificate, citizenship grant for the first time, retention of citizenship, etc.). But, it usually takes 26 months to process your application. You can use the processing time checker here provided by the Canadian government.
Canadian Citizenship Test and Interview
Applicants between 18 and 54 years of age have to enter a Canada citizenship test which tests your knowledge of Canada’s:
They will notify you on the date of your test four weeks before you have to enter it.
There is a study guide called “ Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship” in which they base the test. You can find this online, download it or listen to it as an audio book. You can also order a paper-based copy.
The test will have 20 questions (you need 15 correct ones to pass). It can be in either English or French and it has either true/false or multiple choice answers. In most cases, it’s written but sometimes it can be oral.
If you have special needs, you have to let the office who sent you the notification about the test know.
After the test, most likely on the same day, you will be required to enter an interview. The interview is obligatory to all applicants over 18 (even if they are older than 54), as well as minors 14-17 applying without a parent or who do not have a Canadian parent.
In some cases, Canadian officials may also ask minors who are not required to do so, to enter the interview. They do this if they have any specific questions. If they ask them to enter the interview, the parent will also be present.
If your Canadian citizenship application is accepted, you will need to take an Oath of Citizenship.
You take the Oath during a citizenship ceremony, which can be held multiple times per year. Anyone aged 14 or over has to attend this ceremony and pledge the Oath.
There, you will also receive your citizenship certificate and sign the Oath or Affirmation of Citizenship form.
Canadian Dual Citizenship
You are considered to have dual citizenship if more than one country accepts your citizenship application. Canada allows their citizens to take on new citizenship from another country while still keeping their Canadian one. In this case, they will have dual citizenship.
Other countries allow dual citizenship too. For example, if you are a USA national and obtain Canadian citizenship, you will still have your status as a USA citizen. But you will have dual citizenship for USA and Canada.
However, in certain countries, you may have to renounce your existing citizenship if you want to obtain another one. It depends on the country, so you will have to check your country’s citizenship rules.
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