Requirements for Becoming a Canadian Citizen

A great benefit of a permanent resident becoming a Canadian citizen is that you will be entitled to the same rights and responsibilities as a natural Canadian citizen. The biggest perk would be that you would have the right to vote in federal, provincial and municipal Canadian elections. Your residency obligations would be eliminated as well.

There are several requirements for becoming a Canadian citizen, that you would need to meet.

What You Need to Become a Canadian Citizen

Permanent residents who want to become Canadian citizens must meet the following eligibility requirements:

You must have lived in Canada for three years (1,095 days) during the five years before you sign and submit your citizenship application

It’s always safer to apply when you have more than 1,095 days of living in Canada in case there’s a problem with the calculation. Having extra days would then work to your advantage.

You must meet the minimum language requirements in either English or French.

Applicants between the ages of 18 and 54 will be required to show proof of their language proficiency. Your language skills are measured by:

  • reviewing the proof you send with your application;
  • how well you communicate when you talk to a citizenship official anytime during the process;
  • assessing your language level during a hearing with a citizenship official, if necessary.

You need to meet the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) Level 4 or higher to become a citizen.

Pass your citizenship test

If you’re 18 to 54 years of age on the day you sign your application, you need to take the citizenship test. You’ll need to answer questions about the rights and responsibilities of Canadians and Canada’s history, geography, economy, government, law and symbols.

You may take the test in English or French. It’s 30 minutes long, with 20 multiple-choice and true or false questions. You’ll need to get 15 answers correct in order to pass. The test can also be taken orally or written.

You must not have a criminal history that will stop the granting of Canadian citizenship

This means you can’t:

  • be under review for immigration or fraud reasons;
  • be asked by Canadian officials to leave Canada; and
  • have unfulfilled conditions related to your permanent resident status, for example medical screening

You must have a valid permanent resident status in Canada.

Regardless of your age, if you’re applying for citizenship, you must have permanent resident status in Canada.

There are several factors that can work against you and the success of receiving Canadian citizenship. Applications will be denied to those applicants who:

  • Are not Canadian permanent residents;
  • Do not meet or cannot provide proof of the minimum residency requirements;
  • Don’t meet the minimum language proficiencies in either English or French;
  • Fail their Canadian citizenship test and/or interview;
  • Have been ordered to leave Canada;
  • Have been convicted of a criminal offence in the last three years;
  • Have had their citizenship revoked;
  • Are on parole, probation, or are in prison; and
  • Have been convicted or are under investigation for a crime against humanity or a war crime.

There are additional requirements if you are:

  • applying for a minor (under age 18);
  • a Canadian applying for your adopted child born outside Canada;
  • a current or former Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) member applying under the fast-track process; and
  • a past Canadian citizen who wants your Canadian citizenship back.

Canadian Citizenship FAQ

FAQ 1: Do I have to give up my natural citizenship to become a Canadian citizen?

No, because Canada allows dual citizenship, therefore you’ll be able to keep your former nationality. You do, however, need to check with your country of origin if they recognize dual or multi citizenships as well.

FAQ 2: Does time spent before becoming a permanent resident count towards the minimum residency requirement?

Yes, each day you spend in Canada as a temporary resident as a student, visitor, worker or protected person before receiving permanent residence counts for one half-day. You’re able to use up to 365 days to count towards the 1,095-day requirement.

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