Obtaining Canadian Citizenship
Canadians are proud of their citizenship. As a citizen you can:
- vote and be a candidate for a political office
- apply for a Canadian passport
- enter and leave Canada freely
- enjoy full economic rights, including the right to own any type of property, and
- be eligible for some pension benefits
Along with the rights of Canadian citizenship come responsibilities. Canada has laws related to most aspects of living and business -- take time to learn the laws for actions you are undertaking.
Canadians often volunteer their time to help in their community. Regardless of your interests, contributing to your society is rewarding and appreciated by others who, like you, are proud to make Canada their home.
Applying for Canadian Citizenship
If you want to apply for Canadian citizenship you need to complete the following steps:
- find out if you are eligible to become a citizen
- apply for citizenship
- take the citizenship test (if you are between the ages of 18 and 64)
- attend a citizenship ceremony (if you are 14 or older)
Eligibility to Apply for Citizenship
The eligibility is determined on the following factors:
- age -- you must be 18 years of age or older to apply
- permanent resident status -- you must be a permanent resident, and your status must not be in doubt
- time lived in Canada -- adults must have lived in Canada for at least 1,460 days during the six years immediately before the date of application, and be physically present for at least 183 days during each of four calendar years that are fully or partially within the six years immediately before the date of application (these requirements do not apply to children under 18)
- language ability -- you must have good knowledge of English or French
- criminal history -- you must not be in a situation where you are in conflict with Canadian laws as specified in the Citizenship Act [See Related Resources]
- knowledge of Canada -- you must understand the rights and responsibilities of Canadian citizenship and know Canada's history, values, institutions and symbols
Completing and Submitting Your Application
To become a Canadian citizen, you must do the following:
- obtain an application package
- read the instruction guide
- complete the application form and attach the necessary documents
- pay the fee and get the necessary receipt
- mail the application form and documents
All the guides and forms can be found on the Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website. The fees must be paid online with a credit or debit card. A copy of the receipt needs to be printed out and submitted with your application. [See Related Resources]
Applicants who are 14 to 64 years of age must submit a proof of Level 4 for speaking and listening in English or French using the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB). Those who have attended language school or online LINC classes can ask for a certificate of proof of language levels for citizenship applications. For children 14 to 17 years of age, several types of documents are accepted as proof of language level. [See Related Resources]
Once they start processing your case, IRCC will send a notice confirming your application was received.
You can check the status of your application online. You can also check the status of your application by contacting the IRCC Call Centre. [See Related Resources]
To determine your knowledge of Canada, you must pass the citizenship test. To prepare, you need to use the official study guide developed by IRCC, titled 'Discover Canada - The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship'. The guide can be read online, listened to as an audio book, downloaded in an electronic format as a PDF file or an e-book, or ordered as a printed booklet. You can also test your knowledge on available interactive websites. [See Related Resources]
When the time comes those who have applied will get a notification of the citizenship test location and time. It is important to arrive on time for the test/interview. Those who are late will miss the opportunity and their test will have to be rescheduled.
Your language ability is determined during the Citizenship testing process. The citizenship test results and your interaction with IRCC staff will be used to assess if you have an adequate ability to communicate in either English or French.
The IRCC staff decides whether your test will be written or oral based on a number of factors. For example, if you have trouble reading and writing in English or French, you will have an oral test.
Oral tests are done through an interview with a citizenship judge.
Those who take the citizenship test must remember to bring the following documents:
- the original documents submitted with the application (personal identification, immigration documents, etc.)
- any passport or travel documents relevant to the four years before the application
If someone does not pass the written test they will get a notice asking them to appear for an interview with a citizenship judge. At that interview the judge will ask the test questions orally to give another opportunity to demonstrate that all the requirements of citizenship can be met (including knowledge and language).
Becoming a Citizen
Once you pass the test and it is determined that you meet all the other requirements for citizenship, you will be invited to a citizenship ceremony.
At the citizenship ceremony, you will be welcomed into the Canadian family along with other new Canadians, and asked to accept the rights and responsibilities of Canadian citizenship. A citizenship judge usually presides over the ceremony and administers the Oath of Citizenship.
Once you have taken the Oath of Citizenship at a citizenship ceremony you will be a Canadian citizen. You will receive your certificate of citizenship, a small card that you can use to prove that you are a Canadian citizen. You will also receive a commemorative document that shows the date you became a Canadian. Keep these documents in a safe place.
After becoming a Canadian citizen, you can apply for a Canadian passport.