Citizenship is usually the next step after Permanent Residency for most newcomers. Becoming a Canadian citizen affords you many new privileges that may not be available to you as a temporary or permanent resident.
Canada’s Immigration and Citizenship are carefully structured, so they are never out of reach for newcomers. It involves meeting the citizenship criteria and submitting your application to the IRCC. The final step is a Citizenship test and interview session where you face questions probing your knowledge of Canada and suitability for Citizenship. With the proper preparation and adherence to regulations, a permanent resident can become a Canadian citizen within five years through naturalization.
Canada recently renewed its commitment to immigration with the announcement of the Immigration levels plan 2022-24. With the Covid pandemic winding down and reduced barriers to immigration, the country is ready to restart the process and address a myriad of issues, including domestic workforce shortages and an aging work population. Canada welcomed the largest immigrant numbers in its history in 2021, surpassing its targeted 401,000 new permanent residents for the year.
The country also had over 217,000 new Canadian citizens in 2021-2022 and is on course to exceed these numbers in 2022-2023, according to the IRCC’s citizenship data.
What is a Canadian citizen?
The Citizenship Act explains who is a Canadian citizen. To summarize the document, one is a Citizen of Canada if:
- They were born in Canada
- They are a citizen through naturalization, i.e. being a Permanent resident before acquiring Citizenship.
- They were born outside Canada, but one of their parents was either born in Canada or naturalized in Canada.
- They were born outside Canada to a Canadian parent who was also born outside Canada to a Canadian grandparent.
- were adopted by a Canadian citizen
What are the privileges of being a Canadian citizen?
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees certain rights to an individual according to the principles on which the country was founded.
As a Canadian citizen, you have certain privileges that are not available to Permanent or Temporary residents, including:
- The right to vote and contest elections in Canada
- The right to apply for a Canadian passport
Canadian citizens, as well as permanent residents, both enjoy
- Fundamental freedoms- to practice any religion, form your thoughts, speak your mind, gather peacefully and have freedom of association. This freedom also extends to print and broadcast media.
- Mobility rights to enter, remain or leave Canada
- Legal rights- for protection of basic human rights to life, liberty and physical and psychological safety, among other things.
- Equality rights that protect the dignity of all individuals and prevent discrimination
- Language rights- to protect the use and equal status of both the English and French languages.
- Multiculturalism, respect for Canada’s pluralism.
Canadian Citizenship also comes with its share of responsibilities. You are expected to:
- Obey the law
- Take responsibility for yourself and your family
- Serve on a jury when called upon
- Vote in elections
- Help the community and
- Protect and enjoy Canada’s heritage and environment
Who is eligible for Canadian Citizenship?
According to the IRCC’s guidelines, you must fulfil the following criteria to be eligible to apply for Canadian Citizenship.
- You must be a permanent resident of Canada
- You lived in Canada for 3 out of the past 5 years
- You have filed your taxes
- You Passed a Canadian citizenship test
- You can prove your language skills.
Spouses of Canadian citizens are also required to meet these criteria to qualify for Citizenship.
The IRCC portal also prescribes additional requirements for
- Minors under the age of 18
- A Canadian citizen applying for an adopted child born outside Canada
- A current or former Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) member applying under the Fast-track process
- A former Canadian citizen who wants Canadian Citizenship back
How to apply for Canadian Citizenship?
The IRCC portal offers two ways to apply for Canadian Citizenship, online or on paper. We’ll look into both methods below.
Applying online for Citizenship
The complete criteria to be able to apply online is available on the Government’s website. Some of the requirements are:
- You must be eligible for Canadian Citizenship
- You must have a valid email address
- You must be 18 or above at the time of application
After fulfilling the criteria, a candidate may access the online application on the portal.
Applying on paper
You must first get a Canadian citizenship application package to apply on paper. These are available on the IRCC portal and are specific to your circumstance.
- Adult (age 18 or older)
- Parent or guardian applying for a minor (under age 18)
- Minor without a Canadian parent applying alone
- An adult who served with the Canadian Armed Forces
- Adoption by a Canadian citizen
- A stateless person born to a Canadian parent
Some things to note when filling up your Citizenship application are to make sure you:
- Sign the application form
- Date the form with the day you sign it
- Make sure you have the same application date on the form and your physical presence calculation.
You can pay your fees online and submit this receipt with your Citizenship application. You can then send this by mail or courier to the following addresses:
For regular mail
Case Processing Centre – Sydney
P.O. Box 7000
Sydney, Nova Scotia B1P6V6
For courier mail
Case Processing Centre – Sydney
47-49 Dorchester Street
Sydney, Nova Scotia B1P 5Z2
What is the cost of a Canadian Citizenship application?
Below is a breakdown of the fee structure for applications for Canadian Citizenship.
|Adult (18 and over) Processing fee ($530) and citizenship fee ($100)||$630|
|Minor (under 18)||$100|
|Stateless adult, born to a Canadian parent||$100|
|Search for record of Citizenship||$75|
|Resume citizenship (18 and over)||$530|
|Resume your Citizenship (under 18)||$100|
|Right of Citizenship||$100|
What are the processing times for Canadian Citizenship?
The IRCC sends applicants an Acknowledgement of receipt (AOR) on receiving their application for Citizenship. According to the IRCC portal, the processing time is currently 25 months. The delay has to do with the aftereffects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The portal allows you to track your application status once you have received your Acknowledgement of receipt.
Canadian Citizenship test and interview
The IRCC invites candidates to a citizenship test after the acknowledgement of receipt (AOR) letter. It includes a notice about the test’s date, time and location.
According to the IRCC, the need to take a test or interview depends on the candidate’s age and situation. The following table shows the criteria for individuals under different circumstances.
|Age and situation||Take a test||Go to the interview|
|Adults 55 and above||No||Yes|
|Minor under 18 with a Canadian parent or a parent applying at the same time||No||No, except in special cases|
|Minor 14-17 without a Canadian parent or a parent applying at the same time||No||Yes|
|Minor under 14 without a Canadian parent or a parent applying at the same time||No||No, except in special cases|
What is the Citizenship test?
The Canadian citizenship test is used to verify your knowledge of Canada and ensures that you are ready for Canadian Citizenship. The test can be conducted in either of Canada’s official languages- English or French. Candidates are given 30 minutes to answer 20 multiple-choice and true or false questions.
Candidates need 15 correct answers to pass this test.
An interview usually follows the Citizenship test. The purpose of this interview is to:
- Inform the candidate of their test results
- Check the candidate’s language skills (ages 18-54)
- Verify the application and original documents
- Verify that the candidate meets all the requirements for Canadian Citizenship.
On passing, the authorities will set up a Citizenship ceremony date for the candidate. This will be conveyed to the candidate in one of two ways, either:
- The official will give you a ceremony date at the same time as your test results. OR
- The IRCC will notify you of the date and time of your ceremony
What kind of questions do they ask at a Canadian Citizenship test?
The official will ask you questions regarding Canadian:
- Rights and responsibilities
- Laws and
Where to find resources to study for the Citizenship test and interviews
The IRCC’s official study guide is Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship. It is available with the IRCC as a physical or electronic copy or audiobook.
There are other third-party online resources that cater to citizenship test questions and mock interviews.
Can you retake a Canadian Citizenship test if you don’t pass it the first time?
Yes, the IRCC allows certain concessions if you fail the citizenship test but meet the rest of the qualifications for Citizenship. A second, longer test may be scheduled sometime after your first test.
If you fail to clear this second test, the IRCC will send a notice to attend a hearing with a citizenship official. This hearing can be conducted in person or by videoconference and is used to assess your knowledge of Canada and other requirements for Citizenship.
If you fail to pass this third step, your application is rejected.
However, this does not close your door to Canadian Citizenship, as candidates are free to re-apply.
What is the Oath of Citizenship and ceremony?
If everything goes well with your test and your candidacy is approved, the IRCC will contact you with the details of the date, time and location for your citizenship ceremony.
All candidates must take the Oath of Citizenship during this ceremony to confirm their Canadian Citizenship. You will also receive a citizenship certificate and be required to sign the Oath or Affirmation of Citizenship form and sing the Canadian National Anthem. The candidate is now officially a Canadian citizen.
We hope to see you contribute with your opinions and observations on the process. Sharing your experiences as a first-time applicant or a Canadian citizen will help many others in the same shoes.