Do you want to know how to become a Canadian citizen? Here’s our complete guide to help you. We’ll cover Canadian citizenship by naturalization, descent, birth, and marriage. Plus, we’ll cover the Canadian citizenship test requirements and the application process.
There are three ways to become a Canadian citizen
- Naturalization (including by marriage)
How to become a Canadian citizen by birth
Almost everyone born in Canada is automatically a Canadian citizen as Canada is a Birthright Citizenship nation. The only exception is children born to serving members of foreign governments.
How to become a Canadian citizen by descent
Anyone born to a Canadian parent (a citizen by birth or naturalization) is Canadian by descent. It does not matter which country you were born in. You can qualify through either parent. However, you cannot inherit Canadian citizenship from a grandparent (unless your parent is a serving member of the Canadian armed forces.)
How to become a Canadian citizen by naturalization
To become a Canadian citizen by naturalization, there are three main requirements.
- You are a permanent resident of Canada.
- To have been physically present in Canada for at least three of the last five years. You do not have to have permanent residency status for that time – you just need to legally be in Canada. Keeping a travel journal of trips outside the country is a great idea while you qualify.
- If required, you have filed an Income Tax and Benefit Return for at least three of the last five years.
If you meet those requirements, then you can apply for Canadian citizenship by naturalization.
As part of your application, there are three additional requirements.
- A language skills test in either French or English. You’ll need to meet Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) Level 4 or higher.
- Pass the Canadian Citizenship test (see here for details).
- Show that you don’t have a disqualifying criminal record.
And finally, you’ll need to attend a citizenship ceremony and swear an oath of allegiance.
How to become a Canadian citizen by marriage
Being married to a Canadian citizen does not give you any rights to Canadian citizenship. However, your Canadian spouse can sponsor your permanent residency and, after five years, you can apply as usual.
How to apply for Canadian Citizenship
Forms and Documents
You have two options available for your application form.
- Apply online.
- Apply on paper.
There are criteria that you have to meet to apply online. You can’t apply online if you have already applied on paper.
If you wish to apply on paper, you need an application pack. This will include an instruction guide to apply for citizenship and the forms you need to complete. There are different packs for different applicants.
- Parent or guardian applying for a minor.
- Minor without a Canadian parent applying alone.
- Former Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) member.
- Adopted by a Canadian citizen.
- The stateless person born to a Canadian parent.
Application Fees for Canadian citizenship
Application fees are different for adults and minors. These fees include both the processing fee and the right of citizenship fee.
Adult (18 and over): $630
Minor (under 18): $100
You have to pay your application fees online. This applies even to paper applications because you need to include the receipt for payment with your application.
Submitting the Forms
You should submit your application with your fee receipt and other required documents. You can submit your documents and forms by mail or courier. Remember, you must send them within 90 days of the date shown on your application form.
After the Application
You will get a letter acknowledging receipt of your application and a unique client identifier (UCI). This lets you know that the processing of your application will begin.
Should there be any queries, or if you need to submit any further documents, the authorities will contact you to ask for additional information.
Processing time for the application takes around twelve months. You can check the status of your application online. You should contact the Immigration Office if any information in your application changes.
Citizenship Test and Interview
If you are an adult (18—54 years of age), you need to take a test and an interview. In the test, you will be asked 20 questions about Canada’s history, geography, government, and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. The questions are from Canada’s official study guide, Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship. The test is 30 minutes long. You need to get 15 points to pass.
After the test, you will have an interview. This is to give you the result of your test, check your language skills, and assess your application.
If you failed the first test but your application is complete, you will be given another chance. The second test takes place four to eight weeks after your first test. However, if you fail the second test, you will undergo a hearing with a citizenship official. Failing this hearing means your citizenship application will be refused.
The Citizenship Ceremony and Oath
Once your application and documents have been processed, and you have passed the test and interview, the next step is your citizenship ceremony. Usually, you’ll receive the notification 1 to 2 weeks before your ceremony schedule. If you are not available on the date that has been arranged, you may contact the authorities and explain. If officials find your explanation reasonable, you will get a new schedule.
During the ceremony, the following events will take place.
- Taking the Oath of Citizenship.
- Receipt of your Certificate of Citizenship.
- The signing of the Oath or Affirmation of Citizenship form.
- Singing of the Canadian national anthem.
You have to bring certain documents to your ceremony. A judge will preside over the ceremony, and you will take the oath with many people. The language used in the ceremony may be English, French, or both.
Congratulations! You are now a Canadian Citizen.
Canada does allow Dual Citizenship
Canada allows dual citizenship. Make sure you understand the rules of dual citizenship in your home country.
Dual Citizenship: USA and Canada
The US and Canada share a border and have shared treaties. However, US citizens must follow the same process and requirements as applicants from other countries. There are no special rights regarding immigration between Canada and the US.
Both Canada and the USA allow their citizens to hold dual citizenship.
Canada’s Citizenship Laws
Canada has the Citizenship Act or RSC, 1985, c. C-29. This specifies who is eligible, and how to become a Canadian citizen. The Act also contains provisions regarding the loss and resumption of Canadian citizenship.
The Citizenship Act was amended in 2019 and 2021. These amendments further clarified citizenship requirements.
What Makes Canadian Citizenship Awesome?
Canada offers many great opportunities for people who want to live in the country.
More Jobs for You
There are plenty of employment opportunities in Canada. Many of these jobs are only open to citizens, including positions that require a high-level security clearance. Being a Canadian citizen widens your employment choices.
A Strong Passport
Having a strong passport is a plus when traveling. When you have a Canadian passport, you can travel to 185 countries without a visa. The Canadian passport ranks in the top 10 of the most powerful passport surveys.
You can apply for your Canadian passport two days after your citizenship ceremony.
Tax laws in Canada lean towards residency, rather than citizenship. This means that if you are a Canadian citizen but do not live in Canada, your income is not subject to Canadian taxes. If you are a Canadian citizen who lives in the country, you have to pay taxes on your worldwide income.
No Need to Renew Your Immigration Documentation
Permanent residents need to renew their residency status every five years. Your Citizenship Certificate is valid indefinitely and does not need renewal. You do have to renew your Canadian passport every ten years if you wish to travel internationally.
Next steps: How to become a Canadian citizen
Canada is an excellent choice if you are looking for opportunities. And, becoming a Canadian national and getting a Canadian passport is the next step for many Expats. For individual advice contact a good Canadian Immigration Lawyer partner, they’ll advise you on how to become a Canadian citizen.