Canadian Citizenship: Find Out if You're Eligible | Free Legal Consultation
Canada offers one of the most open citizenship policies in the world. As such, hundreds of thousands of people become eligible for Canadian citizenship each year and over 85% of permanent residents become Canadians.
Becoming eligible for Canadian citizenship entails the likes of meeting residency requirements, being able to speak English and/or French, and not having a criminal history considered prohibitive to becoming a citizen.
This comprehensive CanadaVisa page provides an overview of Canadian citizenship eligibility criteria.
Are you looking to apply for Canadian citizenship? Contact Cohen Immigration Law for a free telephone consultation!
Canadian Citizenship Eligibility Criteria
You need to meet several criteria to be eligible to apply for Canadian citizenship:
- Be a permanent resident
- Meet Canada's physical presence requirements
- File your taxes (if necessary)
- Pass a Canadian citizenship test (if you are between the ages of 18-54)
- Prove your language skills (if you are between the ages of 18-54)
Permanent resident status
You must be a permanent resident to apply for Canadian citizenship. Your Permanent Residence (PR) card does not need to be valid at the time of your application and you can still apply with an expired PR card. Holding permanent resident status entails not being under review for immigration or fraud reasons, not being subject to a removal order, and not having unfulfilled conditions relating to your permanent resident status (e.g., you have yet to complete a medical screening).
Canada’s physical presence requirements
You must have lived in Canada for at least three years (1,095 days) out of the past five years before applying for Canadian citizenship (unless there are exceptional circumstances). Children under 18 must also have permanent resident status, but do not have to satisfy the three-year requirement.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) recommends you apply with more than 1,095 days of living in Canada in case there is a problem with your calculation.
If you lived in Canada as a temporary resident or protected person before becoming a permanent resident, you can calculate some of that time towards your physical presence requirement. Each day you spent in Canada as a temporary resident or protected person in the last five years can count as a half day. You can use a maximum of 365 days as a temporary resident or protected person towards your physical presence requirement.
File your taxes (if necessary)
If applicable to you, you may need to file taxes in Canada for at least three years within the five years before you submit your Canadian citizenship application.
It may be a requirement to file an income tax return, even if you lived in Canada for only part of a year, if you:
- Need to pay tax for the year
- Want to claim a refund
- Want to get benefit and credit payments
Pass a Canadian citizenship test
If you are between of ages of 18 and 54 on the day you signed your Canadian citizenship application, you will need to take a Canadian citizenship test. The test is 30 minutes long and contains multiple-choice and true or false questions. You can complete the test in English or French. The pass mark is 15 out of 20.
The test will ask questions on the rights and responsibilities of Canadians, Canada’s history, geography, economy, government, laws, and symbols.
Prove your language skills
Those between the ages of 18 and 54 also need to show they can speak English or French at a Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) level of 4 or higher. IRCC assesses your language skills in a variety of ways, such as
- review the evidence you submit demonstrating your language skills
- IRCC may take note of how well you communicate with citizenship officials during the application process
- IRCC may assess your language skills during a hearing with a citizenship official, if necessary
One example of proof of your language skills is showing you attended a secondary or post-secondary educational program in English or French. IRCC will also accept the results of an English or French language test you completed. For example, this can have been completed as part of a language training program in Canada, or as part of your Canadian permanent residence application.
Canadian citizenship will not be granted to applicants who:
- Do not meet the minimum required residency days in Canada;
- Cannot speak either English or French;
- Do not pass their citizenship test and/or interview; or
- Cannot provide the required proof of residency documentation.
There are also multiple legal and criminality issues that may make you ineligible for Canadian citizenship.
If any of the following apply to you, you may not qualify for citizenship:
- You have had your citizenship taken away within the past five years;
- You have been convicted of a criminal offence in the past three years;
- You are in prison, on parole or on probation;
- You are under removal order from Canada;
- You are under investigation for, or have been convicted of a war crime or a crime against humanity.
Do you need Canadian citizenship assistance? Cohen Immigration Law is here to help. We can assess your eligibility and submit your Canadian citizenship application to the Canadian government. Cohen Immigration Law offers over 45 years of expertise helping clients become Canadians.