Becoming a Canadian Citizen
Canada has so much to offer. The air is clean, the scenery is gorgeous and the people are friendly. And when it comes to standard of living, Canada is hard to beat. With its excellent educational system, high paying jobs and affordable cost of living, it’s clear why Canada is ranked one of the best places in the world to live.
If you’re considering moving to Canada for work or to study, you might just fall in love with the country. You might decide to try to become a Canadian citizen. Is it difficult to become a Canadian? What’s the process like?
Becoming a Canadian citizen is a lengthy process. There are several steps to follow and requirements to meet. Before applying for citizenship, you must first be a legal Canadian immigrant. There are different ways to legally come to Canada. There are work programs and sponsorships, study visas and post-graduation work permits. Once in Canada, you must then wait until you meet all of the eligibility requirements for citizenship.
Eligibility for Citizenship
In order to apply, you must meet the following requirements.
Permanent resident status: All applicants must first become permanent residents of Canada before applying for citizenship.
Time in Canada: You must be living in Canada for at least three of the past four years before you apply for citizenship. You must also be a permanent resident for at least two of those years. This rule only applies to those over 18 years of age.
Age: To apply, you must be over 18 years of age. For parents with minor children, one parent must apply on behalf of their child and either also be applying for their own Canadian citizenship, or already be a Canadian citizen. The child must be a permanent resident of Canada before applying.
Criminal history: It’s difficult to become a Canadian citizen if you have a criminal background. If you are currently in prison, on parole, on probation or under investigation for a criminal offence, your application won’t be accepted. Neither will an application from someone who has been convicted of a war crime or a crime against humanity. If you had your Canadian citizenship taken away, you must wait at least 5 years before re-applying.
Language skills: If you are between the ages of 18 and 54, you must prove you read and speak either English or French, Canada’s two official languages.
Citizenship test: In order to complete the process, you must pass a test on your knowledge of Canada. It includes subjects like elections, culture and Canadian history.
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Once you think you meet all of the conditions, you can request a citizenship application package. The package is now available on the Government of Canada website. It includes all of your forms and an instruction guide.
With your completed forms, you must submit copies of many documents, including:
- Immigration documents
- Proof of language requirement
- Passport or travel documents
- Education records
- Personal identification
- Calculation of your time in Canada (residency)
- Other supporting documents of necessary (translations, proof of name change, etc.)
- Photos for citizenship documents
A checklist is provided in your application package to help. If any documents are missing or copies are not clear, your application may be returned to you.
Along with your application, you need to pay a fee and send in your payment receipt. At the time of publication, the total cost is $630 per adult, and $100 per child (under 18 years old). The fee is made up of a processing fee ($530 per adult, $100 per child) which is non-refundable, even if you’re not accepted. The remaining $100 per adult is called a right to citizenship fee, which is refundable if your application is turned down.
What Happens Next?
Once the Case Processing Centre checks all of your information is complete, they will send you a letter to tell you they are processing your application. They will also send you a copy of the citizenship study guide so you can start to prepare for your test.
You may receive notices for various appointments including an interview with an official from the Citizenship and Immigration Centre, your test and a hearing with a citizenship judge or officer. If all goes well, you’ll then receive the invitation to your citizenship ceremony.
Current time from submitting your application to finalizing Canadian citizenship is 24 months for routine applications or 36 months for non-routine ones.
Do I Have to Give up My Country’s Citizenship?
Canada doesn’t make you give up your current citizenship when you become a Canadian. However, each country makes its own laws. Some won’t let you keep your current citizenship if you choose to become a Canadian. Before applying, contact your country’s embassy to learn if there are any consequences to applying for Canadian citizenship.
Using a Representative
In Canada, it’s not necessary to use a representative when applying for Canadian immigration or citizenship. All forms and details are provided free of charge on the Government of Canada website.
Using a representative (like and immigration lawyer, consultant or other professional) doesn’t guarantee approval from the Citizenship and Immigration Centre. Representatives can’t process your application faster either. Every application is handled the same way.
After the Ceremony
Congratulations! You completed the process and are now a citizen. After the ceremony, you will receive your citizenship certificate, proof that you are now a Canadian. Don’t forget to apply for a Canadian passport as your certificate can’t be used for travelling. Now go enjoy a poutine or maybe some maple syrup… you deserve it!