To become a citizen of Canada, there are eligibility criteria that must be met in order to qualify. The requirements to become a Canadian citizen are set by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), depend on your unique situation, and could be changed in the future. Meeting the Canadian citizenship eligibility requirements does not guarantee you can become a citizen, including legal or criminal issues, failing the citizenship test, or insufficient English or French language skills.
The requirements to become a Canadian citizen:
- Being of the proper age - You must be 18 or older. Anyone under 18 must have an application made for the minor by a parent or guardian. The minor must already be a permanent resident of Canada.
- Must have permanent residence status – This is the first step to becoming a Canadian citizen; you must have already obtained permanent residence status.
- Time in Canada - To be eligible for citizenship in Canada, the Applicant must have been in Canada (i.e. physically present) for at least 1,460 days during the six years immediately before the date of application. Specifically, the individual must be present for at least 183 days during each of four calendar years that are fully or partially within the six years immediately before the date of application.
- Income tax compliance - Only those who can demonstrate that they have met personal income tax filing requirements for four years within the six years before the application may qualify for citizenship.
- Show intent to reside in Canada - Declaring your intent to reside is mandatory and means that you will live in Canada.
- Pass language criteria - Citizens must be proficient in one of the two official languages - either French or English. Specific levels of skill apply, and a formal test is given to allow the applicant to demonstrate proficiency.
- You do not have prohibitions against you - Crimes committed outside or inside of Canada may negate your ability to become a citizen.
These criteria all must be met prior to filing your citizenship application. If you have served in the Canadian Armed Forces, the “fast track process” may be more appropriate to you. There are two standard application kits - those for Adults and those for Minors. Adults can apply for their children at the same time they apply for their own citizenship.
All applications require the submission of various supporting documents and fees. Fees are payable only in Canadian funds, and may be submitted via the online option or at specific financial institutions. After you apply, you will be contacted in order to take the formal Citizenship Test.
As CIC notes, if you are between 14 and 64 years of age when you apply for citizenship, you must take the citizenship test. All the test questions are based on what’s in the Discover Canada Guide. Applicants must study this guide in order to prepare for the test. The guide is available in both English and French. The time and place of the test is provided once the application is processed and you learn the results immediately after completing the test.
Passing the citizenship test is the final step to allow you to receive a ceremony date. You will take the Oath of Citizenship and become a full citizen at the Citizenship Ceremony. If you do not pass, you are able to take a second test at a later time.
Known for its friendliness, Canada nonetheless does have policies that allow it to effectively deny admission for those it deems a risk or threat. If you are refused entry to Canada because of some of those reasons, there may be still ways to enter the country. There are reasons why you may be ineligible enter Canada and to become a Canadian citizen.
As you might guess, there is a great deal involved, and it is always best to speak with an immigration expert if you have concerns about your citizenship application in Canada.