Foreign Nationals who wish to become citizens of Canada will have to go through a number of immigration steps which we will discuss here.
Some people, like those born in Canada or born to Canadian citizens are automatically considered to be citizens of Canada and merely have to apply for a citizenship certificate.
The term “processing time” is a loose term used to describe the approximate amount of time it may take for Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to receive and approve a particular immigration request.
The term can be somewhat misleading, however. Just because the CIC’s schedule may say that processing times are five months or a year, the actual amount of time that you will have to wait could be longer or shorter than that estimate.
If your application goes particularly well and the CIC has no additional questions or concerns you may receive immigration benefits quicker than the stated processing times. However, if you encounter difficulties when applying you may find yourself significantly delayed by interviews, requests for more information or other requests.
The first step to becoming a citizen of Canada is to first immigrate. There are a few different ways to enter Canada, but it is important to select an immigration process that will eventually lead to citizenship. Certain statuses, like tourism visas, will not allow you to become a Permanent Resident in Canada unless you first leave the country.
The ultimate goal of initial immigration is to receive Permanent Residency. With Permanent Residency, an immigrant has the right to live, work, study and travel in Canada for as long as they please.
There are some general pathways through which you may immigrate permanently to Canada:
- Through a job. Employers can sponsor your immigration to Canada in some cases.
- Through school. If you get a degree from a Canadian university you can sometimes parlay that into permanent residency.
- Family members. If you have a family member already in Canada you can ask for them to sponsor your entry to Canada.
- Asylum. Canada accepts asylees and refugees who are escaping unjust persecution in other countries, but these rules are significantly different from the other three ways mentioned above.
There are a few different requirements that must be met in order to apply for citizenship:
- You have to be a Canadian Permanent Resident and preferably hold a Permanent Resident Card.
- You have to have resided in Canada for three out of the four years previous to your application.
- You must be at least 18 years old (to apply as an adult).
- You cannot be currently investigated for immigration fraud or removal.
- You must be proficient in either English or French, one of the two official languages of Canada.
- You must be familiar with Canadian government, culture and history. A test will be administered prior to taking the citizenship oath.
The total amount of time that it will take from applying for immigration to becoming a citizen can take between 5 and 10 years.
As a Permanent Resident in Canada you may become interested in becoming a citizen. With full Canadian citizenship you can never be deported and you will be allowed to vote in federal elections. You will also be protected by the other rights reserved for citizens.
Applying for citizenship correctly is very important and it is absolutely necessary to closely examine the requirements. If citizenship is filed incorrectly, the Canadian government may view that as fraud and revoke your citizenship and may even deport you.
Here, we will examine the usefulness of the language requirement for Canadian citizenship.
The vast majority of Canada speaks either English or French and although this is not necessarily the reason for why these languages are the official languages of Canada, it does make them the languages of choice in the country.
Being able to speak either English or French properly will help you be successful in Canada in a variety of ways:
- Every day interactions will be significantly easier. Going to the bank, filling up your gas tank or purchasing groceries will all be much easier with good language skills.
- Enrolling in higher education. Canada has some really great universities and in order to be successful in school you will need to be able to read and write in the local language.
- You will be better able to understand the daily goings-on of Canada and be a well-informed member of the society.
No one is saying that you should abandon your native language, rather, the government is asking you to simply add one more language to your repertoire. As an added bonus, being able to speak multiple languages is considered extremely valuable to employers. Many native English speakers in Canada know only one language, so being able to speak two fluently is a real leg-up in the job market.
What Is Fluency?
Fluency is a term used to describe how well you know a particular language. A person who is fluent can use a language in a way that rivals or exceeds a native speaker. These qualities are examined by professionals to evaluate fluency:
- Reading: the ability to recognize and understand written language.
- Writing: the ability to translate a thought into written language.
- Listening: the ability to hear spoken language and to understand its message.
- Speaking: the ability to vocalize language with a coherent meaning.
You will be analyzed for proficiency (another word for fluency) during your citizenship interview where the immigration officer administering the test will simply observe how well you respond to and use either English or French. You may also have to provide certification of proficiency granted by a Canadian regulatory body.
Learning a New Language
There are many different ways that you can learn French or English, or even improve upon your current language skills:
- Enroll in classes. Many local schools offer classes in English as a second-language or French.
- There are community programs designed to help immigrants with learning English or French that you can sign up for.
- You can also learn English by self-study and consistent usage in daily life, however this way may be a bit more difficult.
The only way that a person can become a Canadian citizen as soon as they are born outside of Canada is if they were born to a citizen. There are two ways to be a citizen:
- Birth. Being born in Canada will give you citizenship as long as at least one of your parents was a citizen as well. Provincial birth certificates will be sufficient proof to this effect.
- Naturalization. The process of moving to Canada is also known as naturalization and requires one to first become a Permanent Resident of Canada and then later, apply for citizenship.
Only one parent of a foreign child needs to be Canadian in order for the child to be a citizen.
The next step in the process is of course to obtain proof that the child is Canadian Citizen. The form is called an application for Proof of Citizenship (CIT00001).
The first step is to make sure that the child is eligible for citizenship, as long as they meet the above requirements it is likely that they will be eligible, however, there are exceptions.
The second step is to submit the application. This includes:
- Required documents such as birth certificates, passports, IDs, health records and the like.
- The required fees. The fee for a citizenship application is currently $75 as long as the request is limited to proof of citizenship. The Right to be a Citizen and Grant of Citizenship are separate charges that cost $100 apiece, but may not be necessary for a child applying for citizenship.
- Fill out the application. The form will ask many questions about the applicant’s personal history, immigration status, family history, biographic and biological information.
- Mail the package of documents and fees to Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Ensure that the package is mailed to the appropriate address. The CIC website has a comprehensive list of facilities with descriptions of what kind of documentation is handled there. The Sydney office is the only one that handles citizenship applications.
Next Citizenship and Immigration Canada will assess whether or not the applicant is a citizen. If the citizenship application is affirmed, a Proof of citizenship will be mailed to the applicant. This is why it is important to always update the CIC with an address if the applicant moves during the process.
If it is found that the applicant is not a citizen, the CIC will mail an explanation of why not to the requestor.
To become a citizen of Canada one must be able to pass a citizenship test. The test is composed of two parts: a language test and a knowledge test.
The language exam is pretty simple. Every person in Canada is required to be able to speak one of the two official languages, either French or English. The test analyzes a person’s ability to converse freely and their comprehension of the language.
Normally, the language test is conducted during the citizenship interview on a practical basis. The immigration officer you will be dealing with will ask you questions and as you answer these questions your ability in the language will be analyzed.
Before you go to the interview it may be a good idea to become certified by one of the national boards that analyzes language comprehension and assigns a level of competency.
The second part of the test is for knowledge of Canada. The test will cover such things as:
- Law and
- The Parliament.
There are a variety of questions that will be asked and generally citizens only need to be able to answer a portion of them to pass. Below is a list that will help you study for the test:
- You should know the elected politicians in your region such as the members of parliament, the premier for your province, the Governor General and the Prime Minister.
- Be familiar with the rich history of Canada. Canada was settled by Europeans over four hundred years ago, but the history of native tribes, called First Nations, is equally important in the country.
- Canada is the only country in the world that has instituted the concept of multiculturalism into the government. Be familiar what this entails. Multiculturalism honors the individuality of cultures and societies within a larger society.
- The 13 Provinces of Canada are Alberta, British Colombia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia.
- Also know how the government of Canada works. Although the country elects its political officials, the head of state is still Queen Elizabeth.
An important part in the process of becoming a citizen of Canada is making sure that you are actually eligible for that status.
There are three general requirements that must be met in order to become a citizen:
- You must be a Permanent Resident and not be subject to deportation.
- You must have lived in Canada for three out of the four previous years.
- You must be able to speak either English or French competently and be knowledgeable about Canada’s history and government.
In order to meet the requirement you must have been in Canada for 1,095 days out of the previous 1,490 days. 730 days, or two years, of the 1,095 days required must have been with Permanent Resident status. This means that if you immigrated to Canada and spent 365 days or less without Permanent Residency this can also count towards this requirement.
Here is an example of how to calculate Permanent Residency:
Jorge was a student in Canada for the entirety of his adult academic career. He earned an undergraduate degree at a Canadian college and after he was done with school he got a work permit with the Canadian Experience Class program. It’s been two years since he got his Permanent Resident Card and the last time he left the country was when he was a senior in college and he went home for four months in the summer. Can he apply for citizenship now?
- Jorge has had his Permanent Residency for two years, which means 730 days.
- In his senior year of school he was present in Canada for 244, or about two thirds of a year.
- His junior year of school was spent entirely in Canada, with no trips outside of the country. This accounts for 365 days.
- Every year that Jorge lived in Canada before he was a Permanent Resident is only half a day, so the above 365 days plus 244 days is really equal to about 304 days of Permanent Residency
- This accounts for all four years previous to his application.
- Added up, Jorge has been in Canada for 1,034 days out of the previous 1,490 days and is therefore not yet eligible to apply for Citizenship. However, in 61 days, he can apply, and that’s only two short months away!
- An added bonus is that he has actually spent much more time in the country (his freshman and sophomore years) and is much more likely to be familiar with the questions that may appear on the application test.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada offers a citizenship calculator where you are able to enter in your residency information into the calculator and it will either return the number of days you must wait or give you the go ahead to apply for citizenship!
The thing about immigration is that more often than not it isn’t a matter of probability that figures into success, but rather the route or option that one takes. Citizenship is no exception. Though there is only one way to become a citizen, where you start is just as important as the application process.
If you are already in Canada there are a few different circumstances in which you are classified:
- You are a Permanent Resident in Canada and have the right to live and work within the country for as long as you please.
- You are a temporary resident. This status can be extended to any number of visas. Some examples are visitor visas, student visas, temporary work visas and the like. Sometimes these visas can be used to parlay Permanent Residency, but not always. Temporary status implies that you are allowed to be in Canada for a limited amount of time and must leave the country eventually.
- You may be illegally residing in Canada. This is an unfortunate situation because it means that you have to leave Canada entirely before you can start on the process to become a citizen.
The benefit of becoming a citizen is that you will always be a citizen of Canada no matter what and you can live there for as long as you care to. There is one situation where you might lose citizenship, if you commit fraud. If you apply for Canadian citizenship appropriately and legally, there is nothing that can be done to have it taken away from you.
So if we examine the above list of situations we can assign a percentage for the likelihood that you might be able to stay in Canada and become a citizen it goes from 100% at the top to 0% at the bottom.
The worst-case scenario is that you will have to leave Canada for a while and then re-apply for entry.
The best-case scenario is that you are already a Permanent Resident and you only have to apply for citizenship after you fulfill the residency requirement. The residency requirement is that you must live in Canada for three out of four years before you submit your application for citizenship.
Following the immigration laws in Canada is absolutely relevant to how easily you will immigrate or become a citizen. Follow the instructions to the forms as closely as possible and if you aren’t too sure how a question should be answered or wonder how to do something you should ask.
Immigration Direct is here to help in any way it can when you need it.
Canadian citizenship, a highly valued and coveted status, really only has one route to its successful completion.
- First, you have to live in Canada for three out of four years,
- Then you apply for citizenship,
- Then you take the test,
- Then you take the oath.
After that is all complete, you will receive your citizenship certificate in the mail.
However, the actually difficult part of this process is getting Permanent Residency in the first place. Anyone who has applied for a visa knows that getting Permanent Residency is more difficult that it appears.
Fortunately, Immigration Direct exists to help immigrants through these sometimes infuriating processes and get them on the path to Canadian citizenship. Citizenship not only allows a person to live and work in Canada, but also allows them to vote, and it is the participation in the democratic process that makes Canada citizens so envious in the world.
There are three rather popular ways to get Permanent Residency into Canada: through a spouse, in the Federal Skilled Worker Program, or as a student.
Permanent Residency through a Spouse
If you are already married to a Canadian citizen or Permanent Resident it is much easier to get Permanent Residency on your own. Canada believes in maintaining family cohesiveness, so if you have already established that you are committed to living your life with someone, raising children, and the like, Canada would be very interested in having your family live together and grow within its borders.
However, immigration fraud is a very serious crime in Canada and immigration officials are very wary of marriages of convenience. A marriage of convenience is a type of fraud where two people decide to get ‘married’ (really only in a nominal sense) and then once the immigrant partner has either Permanent Residency or citizenship they simply divorce and go their separate ways, often after an exchange of money. Canada will not tolerate these arrangements and will revoke benefits if it is discovered.
Canada is one of the only countries in the world that will recognize a civil union or marriage between same sex couples as equivalent to heteronormative marriage for immigration benefits.
Federal Skilled Worker Program
The Federal Skilled Worker Program, which was just recently revamped, is bound to become very popular in the upcoming year because of the overwhelming support of the Prairie Provinces which desperately need skilled workers to come into their lands.
Skilled workers from other countries can apply for this program and almost immediately settle into their new Permanent Resident status.
There are, of course, other ways to get Permanent Residency through jobs in Canada as well, although they generally need a more explicit job offer.
Permanent Residency through a Student Visa
Canada has some of the best schools in the world and this fact is not lost on immigration services. They understand that by educating people they are making an investment in those students and to let them just leave when their studies are done is wasteful.
Canada allows immigrants who have studied at Canadian universities and worked at Canadian companies for a certain amount of years to get their Permanent Residency and, eventually, their citizenship.
Many Permanent Residents within Canada experience some level of anxiety when they begin to consider applying for citizenship. Declaring one’s fealty to a government is a pretty big deal after all, but the promise of the benefits of citizenship should outweigh any anxiety.
Could a little anxiety come from the citizenship test? Sure, test anxiety is something that affects all different kinds of people and it can be particularly difficult if there is something riding on the test.
The good news is that you can pass the citizenship test. And in the unlikely event that you don’t, it isn’t like Citizenship and Immigration Canada is going to deport you, rather, you can simply try again. However, trying a second time would waste your time and money, and why bother when you can pass it the first time?
The citizenship test for Canada is composed of two parts. The first of which is the language proficiency test. The second is the test that examines your knowledge of Canadian history, culture and government.
Previously, in the early 2000s the test was quite easy, then there was a movement to make it more difficult in the Canadian government. However, administrators quickly came to realize that they had made it too hard. Even natural born Canadians couldn’t pass the exam! So they have eased the requirements back a touch to better reflect what an appropriate knowledge of Canada is.
The language test is generally administered by a third party and further analyzed by the immigration officer who will be interviewing you. All citizens of Canada must be able to speak, read and write either English or French, the two official languages of Canada.
The government requires this because of its serious commitment towards ensuring that immigrants are able to assimilate into Canadian society as smoothly as possible. It should be noted that assimilation does not exactly mean that immigrants are expected to abandon their own individual cultures when they become citizens, but rather be able to manage a sort of bi-culturalism.
What this means is that people are allowed to maintain their own cultural identity as well as a Canadian identity. This is even relevant to the other half of the test because it will surely contain questions about the policy of multiculturalism that Canada enacted in the 1960s.
The second test involved in getting citizenship will examine your knowledge of Canada and could be a written or oral test. The test will ask you things about how Canadian government works, some historical facts about the country and your responsibility as a citizen among many other potential questions. You can study for the test using the CIC’s citizenship study guide. A passing grade on this test is 15 correct answers out of 20, or 75%.
You have plenty of time to pass this test, especially if you engage in Canadian culture. It is a great likelihood that you will learn many of the answers to these questions through a kind of social osmosis. By participating in the daily life and concerns of Canadians, you will come to find that you already know the answers because you have been transformed into a Canadian.
Here at Immigration Direct we have some helpful hints for you to consider when you begin to apply for citizenship in Canada. Keep in mind that these are just outlines and you should check out some of our other articles for more detailed descriptions of the process.
As a general rule if you are under the age of 18 you must have your parent or guardian apply for you. These dos and don’ts address concerns that adults may encounter during the process.
- Get Permanent Residency
Permanent Residency is the right to live, work and study in Canada and is required before you apply for citizenship. After you get citizenship it is significantly easier to get your relatives Permanent Residency as well!
You can’t become a citizen if you never bother to apply for it! Starting the application process is the first step to realizing your goal of becoming a citizen of Canada. Immigration Direct can help you start your application today online!
- Study for the test
When you apply for citizenship you will eventually have to demonstrate that you are familiar enough with Canadian society, government and history. It is a good idea to study for this test, but it is also likely that you will learn it during the course of your stay as a Permanent Resident.
- Learn English or French
English and French are the two official languages of Canada and Citizenship and Immigration Canada require citizens to be competent in at least one of them so that immigrants have an easier time adjusting to Canadian society. Fortunately you will get the opportunity to practice a lot during your stay as a temporary resident.
- Leave the country for long periods of time
The Canadian government requires that Permanent Residents actually live within Canada’s borders for at least three out of the four years prior to their application for citizenship. This does not necessarily mean that they have to be Permanent Residents the entire time. You can live for up to a year of those three under some other immigration designation.
- Commit Crimes
People who have had problems with the law will be precluded from consideration for citizenship. However, there are some circumstances where you can apply after a certain period of time.
- Lie on your application
Lying on your citizenship application—no matter how small an infraction—will be considered fraud and your application will be rejected. The CIC has recently been cracking down on fraudulent citizenship claims, so it is very important to file correctly if you want to be able to keep your citizenship certificate.
After you apply for your citizenship certificate it may take some time for it to be processed. This can be bothersome, but if your application is filed correctly you can be sure that it will be processed and pretty soon you will be able to take the oath and be an official Canadian citizen!
Permanent Residents can apply for Canadian citizenship after a certain amount of time and as long as they have lived in Canada for three of the previous four years. Note that two of those years must be spent as a Permanent Resident, which means that up to one year of that qualifying period can be spent as a temporary resident.
But why become a citizen if you are already a Permanent Resident? Why bother with the process?
Well, there are certain privileges of citizenship that are not as available with just Permanent Residency or, even less so, with temporary residency. Below are only the general categories of citizen’s privileges.
Rights of Citizenship.
When you enter Canada you are entitled to many different rights, just right off the bat, but the further integrated you become in Canadian society and government the more rights you will have. Specifically, when you become a citizen of Canada you can not only vote, but run for office as well. Being able to participate in one of the best democracies in the world is certainly a perk!
You can also help your relatives immigrate to Canada much easier than if you only had Permanent Residency.
Canada has one of the largest economies in the world and because of this it has an amazingly diverse and accessible job market. There are a multitude of careers available for Canadians of any stripe regardless of immigration status, but with citizenship you will never have to worry about when your work visa will expire!
As a Canadian citizen you would have access to the many beautiful and important universities available throughout Canada. Many of these schools contribute a great deal to better understanding the world as we know it and you can be a part of that effort! The Canadian government can even help you pay for it with reduced fees and student aid.
Canada is a popular tourism destination and as a citizen you can travel anywhere in Canada at any time you desire. You could visit the astonishing Niagara Falls, visit the largest mall in North America, or hike through one of the many national forests in Canada whenever you would like!
Citizenship Is Forever!
Citizens of Canada are expected to be law abiding people and you cannot become a citizen in some circumstances if you have committed a crime. Recently, increased regulations in Citizenship and Immigration Canada have led to the revocation of some citizen certificates due to fraud. However, unless the reason is fraud, there is no way that your citizenship can be taken away. You are safe and entitled to your Canadian rights indefinitely.