To be eligible for Canadian citizenship, applicants must meet certain criteria.
NOTE: : Since the passage of new legislation in June, 2017, many of the regulations surrounding Canadian citizenship have changed, making the process easier and quicker for permanent residents to become citizens of Canada. Some of the measures came into effect on June 19, some measures came into effect on October 11, and some measures are expected to come into effect in early 2018.
- Table 1: Changes to the Citizenship Act that came into effect on June 19, 2017
- Table 2: Changes that came into effect on October 11, 2017
- Table 3: Changes expected to come into effect in early 2018
Currently, in order to be eligible for Canadian citizenship the following requirements must be met:
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Recent changes mean that you may be able to apply for Canadian citizenship sooner than previously.
- Applicants must have Canadian permanent resident status and have lived in Canada for at least three years (1,095 days) out of the past five years before applying (unless there are exceptional circumstances).
- Children under 18 must also have permanent resident status, but do not have to satisfy the three-year requirement.
- Applicants must be able to speak either one or both of Canada's two official languages (English or French) well enough to communicate in Canadian society.
- Individuals between the ages of 18 and 54 must submit proof of language proficiency. See below for details.
- Applicants cannot have a criminal history considered prohibitive to granting Canadian citizenship (as decided by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, or IRCC).
- Applicants must be aware the rights and responsibilities of citizens and have a basic knowledge of Canada's geography, political system, and history.
- Applicants must submit a formal application to IRCC and pay a government processing fee and a right of citizenship fee.
Eligible candidates can apply for Canadian citizenship. Once approved, they will be required to take a citizenship test (for applicants between 18 and 54 only. Successful applicants must then attend a citizenship ceremony where they receive a certificate of Canadian citizenship and officially become new Canadian citizens.
The Canadian Citizenship Act: Changes that came into effect on June 19, 2017
Outlined below are changes to the Canadian Citizenship Act that came into effect immediately upon passage into law of Bill C-6 on June 19, 2017.
|Previous Act||New Act|
Citizenship could be revoked from dual citizens convicted of treason, spying and terrorism offences, depending on the sentence received, or who were a part of an armed force of a country or organized group engaged in conflict with Canada.
|This provision is repealed. Dual citizens living in Canada who are convicted of these crimes will face the Canadian justice system, like other Canadian citizens who break the law.|
|Applicants were required to intend to continue to live in Canada if granted citizenship.||This provision is repealed. Applicants are no longer required to intend to continue to live in Canada once granted citizenship. This provides more flexibility to Canadians who may need to live outside of Canada for work or personal reasons.|
|The Minister had the discretion to waive certain requirements under subsection 5(1) of the Citizenship Act so a minor could obtain citizenship without a Canadian parent.||Minors can now apply for citizenship without a Canadian parent, as the age requirement for citizenship has been removed under subsection 5(1). A person having custody of the minor or empowered to act on their behalf by court order, written agreement or operation of law, can now apply for citizenship on behalf of the minor, unless that requirement is waived by the Minister.|
|No provision existed to prevent individuals serving a sentence in the community (a conditional sentence order) from being granted citizenship, taking the Oath of Citizenship or counting this time towards meeting the physical presence requirements for citizenship.||Individuals serving a conditional sentence will not be granted citizenship, take the Oath of Citizenship, or be able to count this time towards meeting the physical presence requirements for citizenship.|
|The Minister has the discretion to grant citizenship to a person to alleviate cases of special and unusual hardship, or to reward services of an exceptional value to Canada.||Statelessness has been added as a stand-alone ground that can be considered for a discretionary grant of citizenship.|
|The Department has reasonable measures to accommodate the needs of citizenship applicants. However, there was no explicit reference to accommodate persons with disabilities in the Citizenship Act.||The requirement to take into consideration reasonable measures to accommodate the needs of a citizenship applicant who is a disabled person is now included in the Citizenship Act.|
|The requirement for applicants to maintain the requirements for citizenship from the time they apply for citizenship until taking the Oath of Citizenship only applied to applications received on or after June 11, 2015.||This requirement now also applies to all applications, including those received before June 11, 2015.|
Changes that came into effect on October 11, 2017
Outlined below are measures contained in the new act that came into effect on October 11, 2017.
|Previous Act||New Act|
|Applicants had to be physically present in Canada for four out of six years before applying for citizenship.||Applicants must be physically present in Canada for three out of five years before applying for citizenship.|
|Applicants had to file Canadian income taxes, if required to do so under the Income Tax Act, for four out of six years, matching the physical presence requirement.||Applicants must file Canadian income taxes, if required to do so under the Income Tax Act, for three out of five years, matching the new physical presence requirement.|
|Applicants had to be physically present in Canada for 183 days in four out of the six years preceding their application.||This provision is repealed. Applicants no longer have to meet this requirement.|
|Time spent in Canada prior to becoming a permanent resident did not count towards the physical presence requirement for citizenship.||Applicants may count each day they were physically present in Canada as a temporary resident or protected person before becoming a permanent resident as a half-day toward meeting the physical presence requirement for citizenship, up to a maximum credit of 365 days.|
|Applicants between 14 and 64 years had to meet the language and knowledge requirements for citizenship.||Applicants between 18 and 54 years must meet the language and knowledge requirements for citizenship.|
Changes expected to come into effect in early 2018
Outlined below are measures contained in the new act that the government expects to take effect in early 2018.
|Previous Act||New Act|
|The Minister was the decision-maker for most cases of citizenship revocation on the grounds of false representation, fraud, or knowingly concealing material circumstances. The Federal Court was the decision-maker for citizenship revocation cases involving false representation, fraud, or knowingly concealing material circumstances related to security, human or international right violations, and organized criminality.||The Federal Court is the decision-maker in all revocation cases, unless the individual requests that the Minister make the decision.|
|There was no clear authority for Citizenship Officers to seize fraudulent or suspected fraudulent documents provided under the Citizenship Act.||Clear authority for Citizenship Officers to seize fraudulent or suspected fraudulent documents is provided under the Citizenship Act.|
In order to prove language proficiency, applicants must submit one of the following documents:
- Results from an approved third party test; or
- Transcripts or a diploma from a secondary or post-secondary education in English or French; or
- Evidence of achieving Canadian Level Benchmark (CLB) 4 or higher in certain government language programs.
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.