When Am I Eligible for Canadian Citizenship?
If you have lived in Canada for some time, you may be wondering about taking the next step: applying for Canadian citizenship. Due to the numerous benefits that come from becoming a Canadian citizen, the process can be lengthy and difficult. In this article, we hope to dispel some of the concerns that you may have and provide you with the information that you need to successfully apply to become a Canadian citizen. While we have covered some of the most important parts of the Canadian citizenship application process, you may still have some questions. If you do have any questions, please get in touch and speak with one of our immigration lawyers and we’ll be happy to help.
How Long Do I Need To Live In Canada To Become A Citizen?
One of the most common questions that we receive is how long people need to live in Canada before they can apply to become a Canadian citizen. The simple answer is that you must have lived in the country for at least three of the last five years. Where things get a little more complicated is working out the precise number of days that you have been in the country, which we cover in the following section. In order to meet the eligibility criteria, you will need to have been resident in Canada for at least 1,095 days out of the last five years.
Why 1,095 days? Well, quite simply, this is exactly three years. While 1,095 is the minimum number of days that you must have lived in Canada over the past five years, Canadian immigration normally suggests that people apply once they are comfortably past this minimum number. This is due to the possibility that there may be a miscalculation. To minimise this possibility, Canadian immigration has created an online tool that can help you to calculate your length of stay in the country, which we will look at in greater detail in the following section.
How Can I Calculate the Number of Days I've Been in Canada?
As stated in the previous section, you will need to be resident in Canada for at least 1,095 days in the last five years in order to be eligible to apply to become a Canadian citizen. Not only do you have to meet this criterion, but you also need to complete a form that states the exact number of days that you have been in the country. Fortunately, Canadian immigration has created a fantastic online tool that helps you to work this out, called the Physical Presence Calculator, which you can access here. It is important that you complete this before making your application for Canadian citizenship, as the results page is used to support your application.
In order to complete the form, you will need to have records of any occasion that you have left the country over the previous five years. All of these instances will need to be recorded and will be used to determine the total number of days that you have been normally resident in Canada. There are a number of different reasons for leaving the country - including holidays, work trips etc. They will all need to be added so that an accurate picture can be given. It is important that you are both accurate and truthful with your calculation, as any attempt to defraud the system will likely result in very bad consequences. Also, it is likely that your records will be accessed to check the information that you have provided.
What Are The Eligibility Criteria For Canadian Citizenship?
As well as the 1,095 days out of the last five-year residency rule, there are also various other eligibility criteria that must be met in order for a resident to apply for Canadian citizenship. Below we have listed the current eligibility criteria for those looking to become Canadian citizens:
- The applicant must be a permanent resident
- The applicant must have lived in Canada for 3 out of the last 5 years
- The applicant must have filed your taxes if required
- The applicant must pass a test on their rights, responsibilities, and knowledge of Canada (if aged between 18 and 54 years of age the applicant will be tested on their knowledge of the country)
- The applicant must prove their language skills (English or French). The applicant must meet Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) Level 4 or higher
As you will expect, you will need to be able to provide documentary evidence to support the above eligibility criteria. If you need to take the citizenship test, then this will take place after your application has been made. It will probably be taken at the same time or near to your citizenship interview and makes up an important part of the process. There are numerous study materials available to help prepare you for the test.
How Do I Apply For Canadian Citizenship?
In order to apply for Canadian citizenship, you will need to fill out an application form and mail it back to Canadian immigration. To get an application pack, you can apply online and one will be mailed to you. In the pack, you will receive a form and a checklist that details exactly what you need to send back. Before you complete your application, you will need to complete the Physical Presence Calculator and pay the application fee - both of which are completed online.
Once you have a complete application, you will mail this back and wait for an appointment for both your citizenship test (if appropriate) and your citizenship interview. Once completed, your application will take around 12 months to be processed. If you are successful, you will receive an invitation to a citizenship ceremony, where you will take your oath and become a Canadian citizen.