There are two major avenues for obtaining Canadian citizenship: first, you may obtain Canadian citizenship by way of naturalization; second, you may obtain Canadian citizenship by birth or by decent (born in Canada or outside Canada to Canadian parents or adopted by Canadian parents).
Obtaining Canadian citizenship by way of naturalization refers to the process through which you first become a landed immigrant of Canada and having spent three years living in Canada you may then qualify for citizenship. The process of becoming a Canadian citizen is rather straightforward, but before applying for Canadian citizenship, you should make sure that you satisfy the requirements so as to avoid potential refusal of your citizenship application and subsequent complication. If you applied for Canadian citizenship and your application was refused, you can consult the Refusal of Citizenship Application and Appeal section of our website.
To qualify for Canadian citizenship, you must satisfy the following requirements:
- You must first be a permanent resident of Canada and your status as a permanent resident must not be under investigation; you must not be under a removal order or an inquiry into your residency obligation;
- Subsequent to becoming a permanent resident, you must have resided in Canada for a total of three years within the four years immediately before applying. The time you spent in Canada before becoming a permanent resident can be included in this time period, but counted as half (to a maximum of one year). In essence, the three years of residence requirement is calculated as follows:
- You are deemed to have accumulated one-half day of residence for every day of being in Canada before becoming a permanent resident; and
- For every day of residence after becoming a permanent resident, you are deemed to have accumulated one day of residence;
- It must be noted that you cannot accumulate residence if you are under a probation order, a paroled inmate, or you are in jail or reformatory;
- You must be 18 years of age or older in order to apply for Canadian citizenship. This does not mean that children cannot become Canadian citizens through naturalization. Children under 18 are normally included in their parents’ application. The child, however, must still meet the permanent residency requirement but is not subject to the three-year rule of having lived in Canada;
- You must be able to communicate in either official languages of Canada, English or French. The citizenship judge has the discretion to waive this requirement in certain circumstances;
- You must have sufficient knowledge of Canada’s geography, history, and system of government and have knowledge about the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. Again, these requirements may be waived in certain circumstances;
You will therefore be required to write a citizenship test measuring your knowledge of Canada and your responsibilities as a Canadian citizen. The test may be written or oral and you have the right of asking to have the citizenship test in either of the official languages of Canada. You will be required to take the citizenship test if you are between the ages of 18 and 59. For elderly applicants, the test may be waived.
Criminality and Citizenship
You cannot obtain Canadian citizenship if you have been convicted of or even charged with an offence under the Citizenship Act or of a criminal indictable offence within three years before applying. In addition, you would also not qualify for Canadian citizenship if you are in prison, on parole, on probation, or under a removal order. Therefore, you should not apply If you are charged with an offence and/or you are waiting for your trial. You should wait until your trial is finished before you apply for Canadian citizenship.
Under the Citizenship Act, generally speaking, the days during which you are on probation, on parole or in prison do not count towards the three-years residency requirement. It should, however, be noted that conditional discharges and time spent on probabtion as a result of a conditional discharge are treated differently.
To obtain further information or to take advantage of our free half hour initial consultation, please contact us at (416) 365-9473 (416) 365-9473 or (416) 454-0068 (416) 454-0068.
You can obtain a copy of Canadian citizenship laws by visiting CanLII's website.