Obtaining Canadian citizenship is a pinnacle moment for individuals wishing to call Canada home. All new immigrants with Canadian citizenship in mind will want to be well-versed in the eligibility conditions they will be required to meet in order to receive a grant of citizenship. Residency requirements must be observed, knowledge of English and/or French must be proven, and an understanding of the rights, responsibilities and privileges of Canadian citizenship demonstrated.
Permanent Resident Status
To be eligible for citizenship, individuals must be permanent residents of Canada and must have fulfilled the residency obligations necessary to maintain their permanent resident status. Permanent residents are permitted to live outside of Canada, but must reside in Canada for at least two years (or 730 days) within every five year period in order to maintain their status. Some limited exceptions to this 2 out of 5 rule apply. To learn more about maintaining permanent residence status, please visit our page on Permanent Residence Cards.
Time Living in Canada
Current residency amendments require applicants to be physically present in Canada for four years (or 1,460 days) within the six year period prior to the date of the application. Time spent in Canada will be calculated in the following way:
- Only time spent in Canada as a permanent resident counts toward the residency period (ie: time spent as a non-PR no longer counts for a half day);
- Only the 6 years preceding the date of the application are taken into account;
- The applicant must be physically present in Canada for at least 1,460 days within the 6 years immediately preceding the date of the application;
- The applicant must be physically present in Canada for at least 183 days during each of four (4) calendar years that are fully or partially within the applicable 6 year period.
To be eligible for citizenship you must be able to demonstrate adequate knowledge of one of Canada’s official languages – English or French. Adequate knowledge includes the ability to engage in and follow simple conversations and to express oneself with simple language and basic grammar. If between the ages of 18 to 55, the applicant will be required to submit proof of language ability with the application. Types of proof accepted include official language test results from a third-party agency (ex: CELPIP, IELTS, TEFAQ), evidencing attainment of CLB level 4 in speaking and listening, proof of completed secondary or post-secondary studies conducted in the English or French language, or proof of attaining CLB level 4 in speaking and listening in an eligible government-funded language program.
New Rules Forthcoming
Prime Minister Trudeau’s Government will reinstate the old rules for Citizenship eligibility as follows:
In addition to holding valid permanent resident status, individuals must have resided in Canada for at least three years (or 1,095 days) within the four year period prior to the date of the application. Currently, time spent in Canada is calculated in the following way:
- Only the 4 years preceding the date of the application are taken into account;
- Each day lived in Canada prior to obtaining permanent residence counts as a half day of residence;
- Each day lived in Canada after obtaining permanent residence counts as one day of residence;
- Time spent serving a sentence in Canada cannot be counted toward residence (with some limited exceptions);
- If apply with fewer than 1,095 days of physical presence in Canada, a citizenship judge must determine if you meet the residency requirements.
The forthcoming rules make it easier to obtain citizenship. In effect, individuals who have legally lived in Canada prior to obtaining permanent resident status can potentially apply for citizenship as soon as they complete two years of permanent residency.
Knowledge of Canada
Canadian citizenship affords various rights, responsibilities and privileges that applicants must know and understand. Citizenship and Immigration Canada forwards a free study guide upon receipt of a citizenship application that provides the information needed to prepare for a citizenship test. The test may be written or oral, and you will be afforded more than one chance to pass.
Once an application has been accepted for processing, CIC will send a notice confirming the application has been received. If required, a notice may be sent requesting attendance at an interview with an officer, where among other things, your language ability can be observed. In addition, CIC will send a copy of the free study guide so that applicants can begin preparing for the citizenship test. The final step, if all eligibility requirements are met will be attendance at a citizenship ceremony, where the long road to citizenship finally comes to an end!