How You Can Apply For Canadian Citizenship _ Canada is a popular destination for immigrants from all over the world wishing to start a new life. That’s hardly surprising given its excellent global reputation for being kind to well-mannered and polite residents.
Canada’s geography is enormous and breathtaking, with the world’s longest coastline and the world’s second-biggest country (Russia takes the first position). There’s something for everyone, from mountains to woods to waterfalls.
In addition, there is universal healthcare and a thriving economy. But what does it actually take to make a long-term home in Canada? In this quick breakdown, we’ll address this and other questions.
Difference Between Canadian Citizenship vs. Permanent Residency
To begin, you must have permanent residency before you can seek citizenship (PR). This indicates you’ve been granted indefinite residency in Canada and no longer require a visa. You are, however, ineligible to vote because you are still a citizen of your home nation.
Citizenship includes the right to vote, as well as a fresh new Canadian passport that allows you to visit 185 countries without a visa. If you do not have a Canadian passport, you must travel to and from Canada using your regular passport as well as your permanent residency card.
A permanent resident of Canada must dwell in the nation for at least two years out of every five; else, your permanent residence status may be revoked. You no longer have to worry about spending a certain amount of time in Canada after you become a citizen.
Canadian citizenship requirements
So you’ve obtained permanent residency in Canada and are ready to apply for citizenship – what now? First, double-check your eligibility; you don’t want to waste time and money on the procedure just to discover that you aren’t qualified to apply.
Here’s a quick checklist of requirements for applying for Canadian citizenship:
- You must be a permanent resident of Canada – if you don’t have PR, apply for this first.
- You must not have any outstanding issues that might affect your PR statuses, such as being under review or any unfinished medical screenings.
- You must have been permanently residing in Canada for three years out of the last five.
- You must pass a citizenship test to show adequate knowledge of Canada and the responsibilities and privileges of Canadian citizens. unless you’re under 18 or over 54 in which case you’re exempt.
- You must demonstrate competency in either English or French.
- You might need to file income tax if you haven’t already – find out more about Canadian income tax here.
How You Can Apply For Canadian Citizenship
Once you’ve ticked all the requirement boxes, you can start the application process. In theory, it’s only five short steps:
- Calculate how long you’ve been in Canada
- Gather all required documents
- Fill out the application form (online or by post)
- Pay the fee
- Take the citizenship test – or go to your citizenship hearing
We’ll go through each of these steps in more detail, don’t worry!
To start with, you need to prove how long you’ve been in Canada. The easiest way to do this is to use the Canadian government’s online calculator, then print off your result and include it in your application.
What documents will I need?
The documents you’ll need to apply for Canadian citizenship are pretty much all the ones you’d expect.
- As covered above, you’ll need a printout of your proof of residence in Canada for at least three years out of the last five.
- You will also need copies of all your passports from the last five years, including any that expired within that time frame. This is to cover the five year period of eligibility.
- As well as your passport, you need to provide copies of two forms of ID. This can include your passport, but other valid forms are:
- Driver’s licence
- Health insurance card
- Government-issued ID card
- Permanent resident card (PR card)
- The last bit of documentation you’ll need is something that proves your English or French language ability (if you’re aged between 18 and 54). This proof can result from third-party tests, diplomas, or other qualifications, or any proof that you have reached the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) level 4 or higher.
How long does the application process take?
The answer to this very straightforward question is, in fact, not that straightforward itself. In short, it depends on a variety of factors, such as your personal circumstances and where you’re applying from.
At present, COVID-19 still continues to delay application times. Currently, the timeframe is estimated to be around 12-15 months.
The Canadian government has a calculator for how long your application will take, and you can check the progress of your application online.
How much does applying for Canadian citizenship cost?
The Canadian Citizenship application costs CA$630 for adults, and CA$100 for minors (anyone under the age of 18).
The fees are payable online, and you must pay before submitting your application. If you don’t, your application will be returned.
The Canadian citizenship test
Similarly to many other countries, Canada requires applicants to pass a citizenship test. Depending on your circumstances and the information you submitted in your application, you’ll be asked to attend one or more of the following:
- A Canadian citizenship test
- An interview with a Canadian citizenship official
- A citizenship hearing
But what is the Canadian citizenship test? It’s a series of 20 questions designed to assess your knowledge of ‘all things Canada’, including history, government and politics, geography and citizen’s responsibilities.
You’ll need to get 15 correct answers out of 20 to pass, and you’ll have three opportunities to pass the test. See Canada’s official study guide for the citizenship test for more information.
When do I get a Canadian passport?
Once your citizenship has been approved, you should apply for a passport separately. This does mean that there are separate fees to pay, as a Canadian passport is not included in the citizenship application fee.
To apply for a Canadian passport, you must provide supporting documents in the form of proof of your citizenship and your old or current passport. You’ll also need a guarantor and two references, and – of course! – regulation passport photos. You can apply online for a Canadian passport here.
See the official calculator for how long this process usually takes – it depends on whether you’re applying from within Canada, the US, or another country.
What about dual citizenship?
Good news! There are no rules or restrictions on dual citizenship in Canada. Claiming dual citizenship largely depends on your personal circumstances and which other country you want to include.
Some countries such as Botswana, Malaysia, and China, don’t allow dual citizenship. In others like India, Japan, and Nepal, you’ll lose citizenship when you claim citizenship in another country or make you choose one over the other. If in doubt, consult your local embassy.
Ready to apply for Canadian citizenship?
If you’ve made it this far, you’re probably ready to start applying to become a Canadian citizen. Congratulations! If you’re not quite there yet but still want to read more about what it’s like to live in Canada, particularly in terms of costs, take a look at our guide to the cost of living in Canada.
Don’t forget to check out the rest of our blog for more resources and guides to living abroad.