O Canada: How to get Canadian citizenship

If you have been settled in Canada for a few years and are finally feeling ready to plant your flag firmly in the ground, then perhaps it’s time you applied for Canadian citizenship. As you will see, citizenship comes with many benefits, but the process is not entirely simple, so you will need to do a little preparing before you apply.

Eligibility

First of all, you need to determine if you are eligible. In order to become a Canadian citizen, you must:

  • be at least 18 years old
  • be a permanent resident of Canada
  • have lived as a permanent resident in Canada for at least four years out of the past six
  • have been physically present in Canada for 183 days of each year during the previous four-year period
  • have correctly filed your taxes for at least four years out of the past six
  • be fluent (speaking and writing) in either English or French
  • have a clean criminal record

Application process

If you meet all of these criteria, you can apply for the Canadian citizenship. You can download all the forms that you need online, and once filled out (along with details of your spouse/children if applicable), you will have to mail your application along with the required personal documents. Once you have paid the fees and your request has been approved (which can take a while), you will be called for a test about your knowledge of Canada. To obtain full citizenship you must pass this test, so make sure you’re well prepared! The government website has plenty of resources to help you read up for the test, collated in an online book “Discover Canada”.

After you have passed the test, you are ready for Canadian citizenship You will be invited to a ceremony, where you swear the oath to the country and are officially welcomed in the big Canadian family.

In special cases of emergency, your application may qualify for urgent processing. Those types of emergencies include needing citizenship to get a job, to avoid losing a job, or to get into a Canadian school or university; also if you need a passport in order to travel due to a death or serious illness in the family, and are unable to obtain a passport from your current nationality. Visit the government website to learn more about submitting a request for urgent processing.

Benefits of Canadian citizenship

Perhaps you’re a permanent resident in Canada, and wondering, “Why should I go to the the trouble of becoming a citizen?” In fact, a Canadian citizen has many additional rights you may wish to consider. Unlike permanent residents, Canadian citizens can:

  • Obtain Canadian passports, which could make travelling to certain countries much easier
  • Seek consular protection when travelling abroad
  • Live outside of Canada indefinitely, and return at any time, without losing residency status
  • Pass citizenship onto their children born outside of Canada
  • Avoid deportation (permanent residents can be deported for violating certain Canadian laws)
  • Vote in political elections (if 18 years or older)
  • Run for political office (if 18 years or older)
  • Hold certain government jobs where a higher security clearance is required

If you’re in the process of integrating into Canadian society, ARIANNE Relocation might be of assistance. For more than 20 years, ARIANNE has been helping families and professionals move to Canada and understand the ways and customs of the country. Visit our website to learn more about our relocation products and services.

About the Author:

Fred Hornaday took a road trip from California to Wisconsin for his first birthday party. Since then, his itch to travel has led him on numerous cross country and transcontinental adventures throughout North America and Europe. He met his wife in Germany, got married in Denmark, and honeymooned in Colombia. He knows a thing or two about international travel and relocation.

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