Becoming a Canadian citizen is one of the most significant life moments. The freedom and opportunity that comes with having a Canadian passport is one of the reason that so many people from around the world strive to find a place for themselves, and their families, in Canada. If you are dreaming of obtaining Canadian citizenship, this article is for you!
Benefits of being a Canadian citizen
There are a number of benefits to becoming a Canadian citizen instead of a Permanent Resident.
1) A Canadian passport allows you to travel without a visa to most countries in the world.
2) You can vote in Canadian elections, and even run for political office.
3) There is no residency requirement. Unlike Permanent residents who must live inside Canada for 2 years in every 5 year period of time, Canadian citizens do not need to keep track of when they spend time in Canada.
4) Holding Canadian citizenship is a more secure status. As a Permanent resident, you can be deported if you get into trouble with the law, but as a Citizen you will simply serve whatever sentence is assigned, and then return to life in Canada. Although you are likely not planning to commit a criminal offense, be warned that some traffic accidents can result in criminal charges and then deportation – especially if you cause the accident and someone is seriously injured or killed.
5) Certain government and law enforcement jobs are awarded only to Canadian citizens.
Just to note as well, Canada permits dual citizenship. Canada does not have any issue with you retaining the citizenship of another country; however, you will want to check the regulations that the other country imposes before taking the oath of Canadian citizenship.
Eligibility Criteria for Canadian Citizenship
You can apply to become a Canadian Citizen if:
- You are a Permanent Resident of Canada
- You have lived in Canada for at least 1095 days within the last 5 years – immediately before the day you sign the citizenship application form.
- If you were a temporary resident (visitor, student or worker) inside Canada, you can count half of your total days in Canada up to a maximum of 365 days.
- You have filed Canadian income taxes for at least 3 of the last 5 years, unless you are a minor under 18.
- You have sufficient English or French language skills – only listening and speaking are tested (not reading or writing). You must take a language test such as CELPIP or IELTS unless you completed your studies in English or French. You must achieve a CLB level 4 for listening and speaking in order to apply to become a Canadian Citizen.
- There are no language skills requirements for a minor under 18 or a person over 54 years of age.
- You don’t have any criminal or immigration problems.
Steps to apply for Canadian citizenship
- Submit your application
- You can file an online application or a paper application form.
- If your family members file altogether, you will be processed together and your ceremony will be held the same day.
- Ensure that you include all supporting documents and pay the citizenship fees.
- You must show you meet the residency test by providing a list of all the days you spent outside Canada in the past five years.
- Processing times for Canadian Citizenship generally range from about 6 months to 24 months.
- Take the Citizenship Test
- After reviewing your documents, if you are found to be eligible for Canadian Citizenship, IRCC will invite you to take the Citizenship Test.
- During COVId, the Citizenship Testing process moved online.
- The test consists of 20 multiple choice questions. You will be tested on your knowledge of Canadian history, geography, legal system, and general knowledge of the government of Canada, as well as your rights and obligations as a citizen of Canada. There is a study guide you can access online in different formats – as a PDF, an audio file to download, or you can ask for a physical copy to be mailed to you. You will need to score at least 15/20 to pass the test.
- You have 2 attempts to pass the test. If you don’t pass the second attempt, a Citizenship official will contact you for an interview (in person or online). The purpose of the Citizenship interview is to assess your knowledge, language skills and eligibility to become a citizen of Canada.
- A minor under 18 or an applicant over 54 does not need to take the citizenship test.
- Attend the Citizenship Ceremony
- Congratulations! Once you have passed the Citizenship test, you need only to wait for your invitation to take the Oath of Citizenship. Your invitation will be sent via email, usually a few months after your test. During your oath ceremony you will recite the Oath of Citizenship and sing the Canada’s national anthem. When you take the Oath, you promise that you will fulfill the responsibilities of a Canadian citizen.
- During COVID, Citizenship ceremonies were held in an online format. Some ceremonies are now held in person, but Canada Immigration is still conducting most ceremonies online. The online ceremony allows the government of Canada to finalize Citizenship applications more quickly and is likely going to remain the most common type of Canadian Citizenship ceremony.
- Your Canadian citizenship certificate is given to you at the end of your in-person ceremony. If you attend a virtual Citizenship Ceremony, the certificate will be mailed to you about 4 weeks after the citizenship ceremony. Those who applied online can choose to get an e-Certificate instead of a paper one – this is the new format for citizenship certificates.Canadian Passport
- Once you become a Canadian citizen, you are eligible for a Canadian passport. You will need your Citizenship Certificate to apply. For most people, this will take a few weeks to arrive in the mail after your virtual citizenship ceremony.
Are you ready to become a Canadian citizen? If you are not sure whether you are eligible, please contact our office to book a consultation to discuss your situation. We would be happy to walk you through the steps involved in becoming a Canadian citizen, or we can just complete the application process for you. At the Way Immigration, we have helped hundreds of immigrants become Canadian citizens and it would be our great pleasure to help you on this exciting journey!