05 Jul 2020

Sonia on Sunday: Becoming a Canadian citizen

Sonia Krajewska is the ANC’s Community Settlement and Integration Counsellor (Permanent Residents).

So many of us, newcomers in Canada, strive to become rightful citizens of this country. The process takes time and requires some effort, but if you already are a Permanent Resident of Canada then the hardest part is behind you. If you are still a Foreign National and awaiting your PR status, do not worry – your time will also come. If you are looking for advice about how to apply for PR status let us know and the ANC will provide you with needed information.

Today I will share with you some more information on citizenship in Canada.

In Canada, citizenship can be obtained in three ways:

  • Jus soli (Latin for “right of soil”)
  • Jus sanguinis (Latin for “right of blood”)
  • Naturalization (also known as a “grant of citizenship”)

Right of soil is when the child is born in Canada. (Interestingly, if a child is born on an airplane or a ship registered in Canada, they will also be a Canadian citizen by the right of soil even if they are on international waters or flying up in the sky.)

Right of blood is when a child is born to a Canadian parent even if the parent is currently outside of Canada. That said, this has some limitations. Citizenship by descent is limited to first generation born outside of Canada. Second generation born outside of Canada will not automatically become a Canadian citizen.

Lastly, a person can be granted Canadian citizenship (Naturalization) if they meet number of conditions, which is what most of this article is about..

Permanent residents aged 18-54 can apply for the grant of citizenship if they:

  • Have been physically present in Canada for at least 3 years (1,095 days) out of the 5 years prior to the date of the application
  • Met personal income tax filing obligation in 3 taxation years within the last 5-year period
  • Have adequate knowledge of English or French 
  • Have knowledge of Canada, rights, responsibilities, and privileges of citizenship 

How can you calculate your residency requirement?
You can count only 5 years prior to submitting your application.

  • Every day you spent in Canada as a Permanent Resident counts as a full day.
  • Every day you spent in Canada as a Temporary Resident counts as a half day (up to a maximum of 365 days).

You must be present in Canada for at least 1,095 days in a 5-year period. You can use this online calculator to count your physical presence in Canada.

Where should you submit the application?
All grant and certificate applications are submitted to CPC Sydney in Nova Scotia.

You will find all up to date forms at the government website.

If you have any problems filling out your application, feel free to reach out to the Association for New Canadians and we will be able to assist you.

What is the language requirement you need to pass?
Currently, applicants who are age 18-54 years old must sit an English or French language proficiency test. The minimum requirement is level 4 in Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB). You must prove that you have the ability to understand and participate in everyday conversation, use basic grammar and are able to ask and answer simple questions.

Who needs to pass a Citizenship Test?
Applicants who are 18 – 54 years old must write a test to evaluate their knowledge of Canada. Your test will be scheduled, and you must be physically present. You will require proof of identification and must take part in a short interview.

The test itself has 20 multiple-choice questions and you must answer 15 of them correctly to pass. You will have 30 minutes.

Applicants 55 and older
Prospective citizens aged 55 years and older do not have to meet the language requirement or demonstrate knowledge of Canada in a test. They must still attend an interview with an IRCC officer.

To be eligible for Canadian citizenship, a minor (person under 18 years old) must be a Permanent Resident and have at least one parent (including a legally adoptive parent) who is already a citizen or who is applying for citizenship at the same time. There are separate guidelines, which can be found here, for minors without parents. Note that all new citizens aged 14 and over must attend the ceremony and take the Oath of Citizenship.

How can you prepare for a Citizenship Test?
Government of Canada released a study guide which would be crucial in your citizenship test preparations. You can download the guide in a PDF format from the website or you can also order a paper copy which will be mailed to you.  This study guide will teach you about Canadian history, Canadian government, economy, geography and more. Visit this website to see the study guide. 

You may also be interested in attending free citizenship preparation classes offered by the ANC. These are currently on hold because of the COVID-19 health guidelines, but will resume when we are able to do so.

What is the final step in obtaining your Canadian Citizenship?
The final and probably the most exciting part of the process is taking the Oath of Citizenship at a citizenship ceremony. Citizenship ceremonies take place all around the country at different times of a year. Anybody over the age of 14 years old must go to the citizenship ceremony and take the oath. At the ceremony you will take the Oath of Citizenship, get your citizenship certificate, sign the Oath or Affirmation of Citizenship form and you will get to sing the national anthem, “O Canada.”

Why should you try obtaining Canadian Citizenship when you are eligible?
After you become a Permanent Resident of Canada you have many of the same rights as Canadian Citizen which is a great improvement from being a Foreign National. For example, you are eligible for Canadian social benefits, including health care, can travel freely within Canada, and are protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom. But there are also many benefits of becoming a Citizen.

Main benefits are:

  • Canadian Citizens can vote in federal & provincial elections
  • Canadian Citizens can run for office
  • They hold Canadian passports
  • Citizens are eligible for certain jobs that require a high-level security clearance
  • There is no physical presence requirement to maintain citizenship status
  • Canadian citizenship can only be revoked if for the reasons of obtaining/retaining the citizenship by fraud, false representation or by knowingly concealing material circumstances.

We enjoy seeing clients of the ANC become citizens of Canada. If you wish to apply for citizenship but still are unsure where to start contact the Association for New Canadians. We can help you with your test preparations and your application.

If you have any questions about Settlement and Integration in NL, please contact me at skrajewska@ancnl.ca


Read all of Sonia’s blog posts here.