How to Obtain Canadian Citizenship
If you’re thinking about joining them, this article will explain the eligibility requirements, application process, cost, citizenship test, and other important information relevant to becoming a Canadian.
In addition to all the privileges that come with being a Permanent Resident of Canada, naturalized citizens have other rights that Permanent Residents do not. Naturalized citizens have all the same rights and responsibilities as native-born Canadians. These include the right:
- To vote,
- To participate in the political process,
- To run for elected office,
- To serve on a jury,
- To obtain a coveted Canadian passport, which offers visa-free travel to 97 countries, and
- To consular assistance abroad.
As a citizen, you will no longer have to go through the trouble of renewing your PR card periodically, and you will no longer have to fulfill other requirements to stay in Canada. Your citizenship rights are permanent — once granted, your citizenship continues indefinitely. If new children are born to you, they will automatically be Canadian citizens. You may be eligible to work in jobs that are normally restricted to citizens. And, unless you obtain your citizenship fraudulently, it can never be taken away from you.
Then there is the less tangible but important benefit of feeling truly Canadian — perhaps after years of living in Canada without these privileges. For many participants, attending the citizenship ceremony at which they officially become Canadians is an emotional highlight of their lives.
To apply for citizenship, you must
- Have filed an income tax return for at least three of the past five years and have paid any taxes owed;
- Demonstrate moderate proficiency in either French or English (if you are between the age of 18 to 54);
- Demonstrate knowledge of Canada and your rights and responsibilities as a citizen; if you are aged 18 to 54, you must pass a test after the processing of your application.
What is the physical presence requirement?
To apply for Canadian citizenship, you must be physically present in Canada for 1095 days in the last five years. While you are waiting to become eligible, you should carefully record the dates of all absences from Canada, including travel for work, vacations, family visits, etc. You can use an optional Travel Journal; it’s also good to keep travel documents and records.
You should also keep proof of your living full-time in Canada such as by keeping your bills, school records, lease documents, pay stubs, etc. It’s recommended that you wait a little longer than the 1095 days to file, to provide you a buffer in case there are any discrepancies.
What is the Physical Presence Calculator?
To help determine whether you have met the residency requirement, you can use the Government of Canada’s free online Physical Presence Calculator. For the purposes of this calculation, each day physically present in Canada after you became a Permanent Resident counts as one day; each day physically present in Canada as an official Temporary Resident before you became a Permanent Resident counts as half a day (up to a maximum of 365 days).
Please note that days you spent awaiting a decision on your refugee claim or serving a sentence in Canada (prison, jail, parole or probation) do not count.
You may not be eligible if you:
- Have any unfulfilled conditions related to your PR status, or are under a removal (deportation) order, or
- Are serving a criminal sentence, or are suspected or convicted of having committed certain serious crimes that would make you a security risk in Canada, or
- Have served in an armed force that participated in an ongoing armed conflict with Canada.
Here is the step-by-step guide on how to apply for Canadian citizenship:
- Gather your documents: There is a set of documents you will have to attach to your application. Please note that if you are aged 18-54, you must also include photocopies of your proof of English or French language ability.
- Pay your fees: Fees must be paid online. If you submit more than one application (e.g. for your family) at the same time, all fees can be paid together.
- Submit your application forms: There are two ways to submit your completed applications: online, or by downloading, filling out, printing, and mailing a paper application. Please note that a separate application must be filled for each family member applying for citizenship, but they can be mailed together in a single envelope.
- Take the Citizenship Test: Once you have submitted your application, it’s wise to start preparing for the citizenship knowledge test. If you were between 18 and 54 on the day you submitted your application, you may get an invitation to write the test within weeks of acceptance. (Older applicants do not need to take the test.) The test consists of 20 questions (multiple-choice or true/false) about Canadian geography, history, government, and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.
- Wait for approval: The processing time of the application depends on several factors. Please note that your application will be returned if you have not paid the fees or the application is incomplete; you will receive an explanation of what is missing and the steps you need to take to resubmit it. For quality assurance, the government may select some applications for a special review. If yours is selected, you will receive a notice in writing. You may have to attend an interview to verify information in your application.
If your application is approved, you will receive an invitation to a Citizenship Ceremony.
Here are suggestions for successful completion of the Citizenship Test:
- Every fact that you may be tested on is included in a free study guide called Discover Canada. There will be nothing on the test that is not in this guide. Use this guide to prepare for the test. It is available in several forms:
- To prepare for the test, use different methods to help you absorb the information. For example, read the Discover Canada e-book for a while on some evenings, and listen to the audio version while going to work. You should ask a Canadian friend to explain anything you don’t understand; they may even learn something they didn’t know!
- It’s best not to use materials other than Discover Canada to study for the test; that may confuse you.
- Take a sample test to become familiar with the format. You can take these online quizzes.
Please note that unless you have special needs, you will have 30 minutes to complete the test. To pass the test, you must get 15 out of 20 questions correct. You can take the test up to three times.
Also please consider that no one is allowed in the test room but the people being tested. If you have small children, arrange for someone else to take care of them while you are taking the test.
A citizenship official will notify you in writing about the decision on your application. If you have passed the test and met all the other requirements for citizenship, the citizenship office will give you the time and place of your Citizenship Ceremony. Then it is time to celebrate!
The Oath of Citizenship
I swear (or affirm)
That I will be faithful
And bear true allegiance
To Her Majesty
Queen Elizabeth the Second
Queen of Canada
Her Heirs and Successors
And that I will faithfully observe
The laws of Canada
Including the Constitution
Which recognizes and affirms
The Aboriginal and treaty rights of
First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples
And fulfil my duties
As a Canadian citizen.
If you cannot attend on the scheduled date, it’s very important to contact the office that sent you the letter to explain why. If you have a reasonable explanation, the date can be changed.
During the ceremony, which may be conducted in English or French, or both, participants will:
- Take (swear or affirm) the Oath of Citizenship;
- Receive their Citizenship Certificate;
- Sign the Oath or Affirmation of Citizenship form;
- Sing the national anthem, “O Canada”.
There may be special entertainment or speeches at the ceremony. For the official proceedings, a citizenship judge or official will preside over the ceremony, and you will be asked to repeat the words of the Oath of Citizenship after the judge speaks them. The Oath was recently amended to include a reference to Canada’s treaties with its Indigenous people, as part of the ongoing Truth and Reconciliation process. You don’t have to memorize the words ahead of time, but it is good to know what you will be pledging to do.
Once you have spoken those words, you will officially be a citizen! A bilingual version of “O Canada” is often sung after that. You can find recordings of it here.
After the ceremony, it is time for photographs. Often a reception is held to celebrate with your fellow new Canadians who will be from all over the world.
After the Ceremony
As a citizen, you can participate fully in the life of Canada. You can apply for a Canadian passport (wait a couple of business days after the ceremony for the paperwork to get processed), register to vote, and get involved with political organizations if you like. Canada also provides new citizens with a special gift: a year of free entrance to the national parks and historic sites run by Parks Canada, and to many museums, science centres, art galleries and other parks through the Canoo app.
You should enjoy the privileges of citizenship, but also give back to your new homeland, by volunteering with worthy organizations, helping other new immigrants adapt to Canada, taking responsibility for your family, exercising your civic duty, obeying the laws and contributing to Canada’s economy and its diverse, peace-loving, rich culture.
Contact us, and our team of professionals will provide you a realistic assessment of your chances of success and assist you in creating the best pathway for obtaining Canadian citizenship. We will explain how to avoid the pitfalls and improve your credentials in order to get the highest chances of getting citizenship.
The importance of providing clear, complete, and accurate information throughout the process cannot be overstated. It is usually a good idea to seek the assistance of a professional who is experienced in the process so that you avoid making mistakes or acting on incorrect information at any step. We can assist you in all stages of your journey for Canadian citizenship as well as make the application process efficient and stress-free.
In any case, we hope this article has given you a good overview of Canadian citizenship. If you still have any questions, please contact us and we will be happy to help.