One of the primary goals of many foreign nationals who come to Canada is to eventually apply for Canadian citizenship. Citizenship is the final step in acquiring all the rights and privileges of a person who was naturally born in Canada. The rights and privileges afforded with citizenship include the right to vote in Canadian elections, and the right to live and work anywhere in Canada. It is important to understand what is involved in the process to have the best chance of having your citizenship application accepted if becoming a Canadian citizen is your goal.
In order to become a citizen of Canada, the applicant must be a Canadian permanent resident. Permanent residence status allows the holder of that status to live in Canada indefinitely and afford benefits such as healthcare, while not giving the permanent resident all of the rights of a Canadian citizen. There are a variety of pathways one can take in order to become a Canadian permanent resident, including family sponsorships, the Provincial Nominee Program, and Express Entry.
To become a citizen of Canada, there are time requirements set out by the government before a permanent resident can apply for citizenship. The basic requirement is that the applicant has been present in Canada for 3 of the last 5 years, or more precisely at least 1,095 days out of the 5 years before the application for citizenship is made. If an applicant is someone who leaves Canada often, the Canadian government recommends using a travel journal in order to track your days in and out of Canada. Before applying, the applicant must have been a permanent resident for at least 2 years after becoming a permanent resident. Each day spent in Canada contributes to the 1,095 day requirement.
Further, those who spent time in Canada as a temporary resident can put some of the days spent within Canada toward the time requirement. Everyday spent in Canada as a temporary resident counts as half a day toward the 1,095 day requirement, up to a maximum of 365 days for the citizenship application. This means that citizenship applicants who were once temporary residents can leverage that time toward a citizenship application, provided that it is within the past five years before the application is made. Although the official number of days required for a successful application is 1,095 days, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada recommends that potential applicants apply with more than 1,095 days in Canada over the 5 year counting period in order to avoid a rejection of the application due to a potential calculation error.
There are other factors aside from the time requirement that determine whether a Canadian citizenship application will be successful.
Citizenship applicants between the ages of 18 and 54 must be able to speak one of Canada’s official languages, English, or French at a level where you can speak and listen effectively. English or French language proficiency are evaluated by immigration officials by reviewing the proof sent in with the application, noting how you communicate when you talk to a citizenship official during the process, and assessing language level during a hearing with an immigration official, if necessary. Certificates, diplomas, and tests can be submitted as proof of language skill. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada dictates that in order to become a citizen, you need to meet the Canadian Language Benchmarks Level 4 or higher, which means that the applicant can take part in short, everyday conversations about common topics, understand simple instructions, questions, and directions, use basic grammar, including simple structures and tenses, and show they know enough common words and phrases to answer questions and express themselves. If you are considering becoming a Canadian citizen, make sure that your English or French skills are sufficient in order to satisfy the citizenship requirements.
A citizenship test is required for applicants between the ages of 18 and 54 years. The test covers questions about the rights and responsibilities of Canadians. The test may further include material about Canadian history, geography, economy, government, laws, and symbols. There is also information about the testing conditions that is available in order to help applicants prepare. The test can be taken in English or French, is 30 minutes long, consists of 20 questions, contains multiple-choice and true or false questions, and is usually written but may be oral. Currently, in-person citizenship tests are not being conducted. Rather, the test is taken online. There is an official study guide offered by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada that is available for free online.
Applicants must have filed taxes in Canada for at least 3 years during the 5 years before the date of the citizenship application. There are also certain conditions that can render a person ineligible for Canadian citizenship. For example, if you committed a crime in or outside of Canada, you may not be eligible to become a Canadian citizen. Further, time spent serving a term of imprisonment, or while on parole or probation does not count toward the time requirement for citizenship. Currently, the cost for a citizenship application is $630 per adult and $100 per minor applicant. This may be subject to change in the future as the Liberal Party platform in the 2021 Federal Election called for the elimination of the citizenship application fee by 2023. Currently, however, the fee remains.
Garson Immigration Law is a firm exclusively dedicated to the practice of immigration law. We successfully guide clients through the immigration process, with an eye toward the ever-changing regulations in light of COVID-19. We will work to find an effective solution for your individual immigration needs and ensure you are positioned for success with respect to your application.
The immigration lawyers at Garson Immigration Law understand how important a citizenship application is to each and every applicant. Our immigration professionals work meticulously to ensure all eligibility requirements are met, and all necessary documents have been secured for your first application in order to avoid delay. If you have any questions about preparing an application, do not hesitate to reach out to us online or by calling us at 416-321-2860.
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