OBTAINING CANADIAN CITIZENSHIP
Canadian citizenship is typically acquired through various means:
- Birthright: Those born in Canada are automatically Canadian citizens.
- Descent: Children born to Canadian parents outside Canada can acquire citizenship, but they must be the first generation born abroad.
- Permanent Residents: Individuals with permanent resident status can become citizens by meeting the residency requirement, which involves living in Canada for at least three out of five years.
Once Canadian citizenship is obtained, it's secure unless acquired fraudulently.
Benefits of Canadian Citizenship:
- Freedom of Travel: Canadian citizens can freely enter and leave Canada without the need for visas or travel authorizations.
- Voting Rights: Citizens have the right to participate in Canadian elections, shaping the country's future.
- Canadian Passport: Citizens can obtain a Canadian passport, which facilitates international travel and provides consular assistance abroad.
- Access to Services: Citizenship ensures access to a wide range of Canadian government services and benefits.
Canadian citizenship offers numerous privileges, including the ability to travel, vote, and enjoy governmental services. It can be acquired through birth, descent, or meeting residency requirements as a permanent resident.
Becoming a Canadian citizen, a process known as "naturalization," is available to permanent residents who meet specific residency requirements. Once naturalized, their children born outside Canada also gain citizenship.
Canada welcomes dual citizenship, permitting new citizens to retain their original citizenship, as long as the laws of their home country permit it.
In essence, this means that permanent residents can pursue Canadian citizenship while keeping their existing citizenship, fostering international connections and opportunities.
CITIZENSHIP BY DESCENT
Canadian citizenship is acquired automatically by birth within Canada's borders. Additionally, individuals born outside Canada can gain citizenship through descent if one of their parents is a first-generation Canadian citizen.
Canadian citizenship grants exclusive privileges, including the right to vote in elections and eligibility to obtain a Canadian passport. These benefits set citizens apart from permanent residents.
CITIZENSHIP BY NATURALIZATION REQUIREMENTS
To apply for Canadian citizenship, permanent residents of Canada must meet specific requirements:
- Residency: Candidates must have lived in Canada for at least three years out of the five years preceding their application. Time spent in Canada as a legal temporary resident before obtaining permanent residence is counted as half time, up to a maximum of 365 days within the five-year period.
- Tax Filings: Applicants must have filed income tax returns in Canada for at least three years within the same five-year period if required under the Income Tax Act.
- Language Proficiency: Permanent residents between the ages of 18 and 54 must demonstrate an adequate understanding of either English or French, Canada's official languages. Proof of language ability is provided through language tests like IELTS, CELPIP (English), or TEF (French), with scores meeting or exceeding benchmark 4 of the Canadian Language Benchmarks for speaking and listening. Alternatively, applicants can show language proficiency through post-secondary education in English or French or by completing English or French as a Second Language training in Canada.
- Citizenship Test: Applicants between the ages of 18 and 54 must pass a citizenship test, which is based on the information in the government booklet titled Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship. The test consists of 20 multiple-choice questions, with a passing score of 15 correct answers. Those who fail the written test will have an opportunity to re-write it. If they fail again, they will undergo an oral interview with a citizenship officer.
Meeting these requirements is essential for permanent residents seeking Canadian citizenship.
CITIZENSHIP BY DESCENT REQUIREMENTS
Canadian citizenship can be acquired automatically in two primary ways:
- By Birth in Canada: Individuals born within the borders of Canada are automatically considered Canadian citizens.
- By Descent: Children born outside Canada may acquire Canadian citizenship if at least one of their parents is a first-generation Canadian citizen. First-generation Canadian citizens are those who were either born in Canada or naturalized as Canadian citizens.
Changes in Citizenship Rules (2009)
In 2009, Canada amended its citizenship rules regarding children born outside the country to Canadian parents:
- Previous Rule: Prior to April 17, 2009, children born abroad to Canadian citizen parents were granted Canadian citizenship, even if they were second or subsequent generations born outside Canada.
- Current Rule: Since April 17, 2009, Canadian citizenship by descent is limited to the first generation born abroad. This means that if you were born outside Canada to a Canadian parent, you won't be considered a Canadian citizen if your Canadian parent was also born outside Canada to a Canadian parent, making you a second or later generation born outside of Canada.
Exception to the First-Generation Rule
An exception to the first-generation rule exists if your Canadian parent or grandparent was employed in specific roles at the time of your birth outside Canada. If you were born abroad as a second or later generation and your Canadian parent was employed with the Canadian Armed Forces, federal public administration, or the public service of a province or territory, the first-generation rule does not apply to you.
In cases where a child born to a Canadian parent doesn't qualify for citizenship by descent due to the first-generation limit, the Canadian parent may explore sponsoring the child for permanent residence in Canada if the child is under 22 years old and unmarried.
Receiving a Fairness Letter in Your Citizenship Application
When Canadian citizenship authorities have concerns about a citizenship application, they may issue what's known as a "fairness letter" to the applicant. This letter serves as a chance for the applicant to address these concerns before a final decision is made. If you receive a fairness letter in Ontario, it's crucial to respond with a well-structured and accurate report that summarizes the key arguments in your case. A strong response can significantly improve your chances of a favorable decision by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Unfortunately, many applicants fail to seek legal assistance when responding to a fairness letter from IRCC, and weak responses often result in refusals.
Common Reasons for Fairness Letters
- Residency Concerns: In many cases, applicants receive fairness letters because citizenship authorities are unsure whether the applicant meets the residency requirement for Canadian citizenship. This typically occurs when an applicant has a significant travel history but cannot provide sufficient evidence to confirm their physical presence in Canada during the specified periods in their application. In such situations, additional evidence may be requested to substantiate the claimed residency.
- Misrepresentation Allegations: If you receive a fairness letter alleging misrepresentation, it's vital to respond comprehensively to address the immigration officer's concerns. Misrepresentation is a grave accusation that can lead to the refusal of your citizenship application.
CANADIAN CITIZENSHIP INTERVIEW
When Canadian citizenship authorities request additional information to verify an applicant's residency but remain uncertain even after reviewing this information, they may schedule an interview with a Citizenship Judge.
During this interview, the Citizenship Judge will discuss any concerns related to the applicant's time spent outside of Canada and the supporting documentation provided. Based on this interview and the presented evidence, the Judge will make a final determination regarding whether the applicant meets the residency requirement and should be granted Canadian citizenship. This interview serves as a crucial step in the citizenship application process, helping ensure that all eligibility criteria are met.
CITIZENSHIP BASED ON HUMANITARIAN AND COMPASSIONATE GROUNDS
Under Canadian immigration law, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration holds the authority to grant citizenship in situations involving significant hardship or exceptional contributions to Canada. Statelessness is now recognized as a distinct basis for a discretionary citizenship grant.
Additionally, the revised Act mandates that citizenship authorities must consider reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities.
These provisions can be applied in cases where a citizenship applicant cannot fulfill all standard requirements due to unique circumstances that would create hardship if citizenship were denied. They also apply to situations involving stateless individuals or applicants with disabilities, ensuring fairness and flexibility in the citizenship process.
HERE’S HOW WE CAN HELP
We offer a comprehensive service to assist you throughout your citizenship application process:
- Documentation Review: We meticulously collect and review all necessary supporting documents to ensure your citizenship qualifications are solidly established.
- Interview Preparation: Our team prepares you thoroughly for any interviews you may have with citizenship authorities, ensuring you're well-equipped to succeed.
- Expert Legal Submissions: We provide expert legal submissions that strongly support your citizenship application, increasing your chances of a successful outcome.
- Effective Communication: We act as your liaison with immigration authorities, ensuring nothing is overlooked, which can otherwise lead to significant delays in the process.
Our goal is to guide you through every step of your citizenship application, making the process as smooth and successful as possible.
REVOCATION OF CITIZENSHIP
Canadian citizenship obtained through deception, false representation, or fraud, including concealing vital information during the application process, can be revoked.
Protecting Due Process
Individuals facing citizenship revocation on suspicion of fraudulent means are entitled to due process. This includes receiving formal notice of the allegations, disclosure of the evidence against them, and an opportunity to provide a written response before a final decision is reached.
In essence, Canadian citizenship must be obtained and maintained through honest and transparent means. Violating this trust may lead to the loss of citizenship, but individuals are guaranteed a fair process to address such allegations.
DENIAL OF CITIZENSHIP APPLICATION
Appealing a Citizenship Application Rejection
Should your citizenship application be denied, you can choose to appeal within 30 days. This process involves filing an Application for Leave and Judicial Review in the Federal Court.
The Nature of the Appeal
This appeal is not a full one, meaning no new evidence or witness testimony is presented. Instead, the court assesses the citizenship official's decision based on existing evidence. It checks if the decision was legally sound, examining aspects like fairness, jurisdiction, adherence to the law, and overall reasonableness.
In essence, it's a judicial review to ensure that the initial decision was legally and fairly made.
COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT CANADIAN CITIZENSHIP
What is a non-routine application?
Certain situations can make your citizenship application non-routine. These include:
- Changing Personal Information: If you want to modify details like your name, gender, or date of birth.
- Missed Appointments: If you've missed a test, interview, or hearing.
- Additional Documents: When asked to provide extra documents like fingerprints or residence records.
- Additional Interviews: If you're called for another interview or hearing following a prior one.
- Test Failures: Failing a required test.
- Language Requirement Shortfall: Not meeting language requirements during your interview.
Keep in mind that non-routine applications may lead to significant processing delays.
Can my application be expedited?
In specific situations, you can request urgent processing of your citizenship application. Here are some examples:
- Job Requirement: When Canadian citizenship is necessary for a job application.
- Job Retention: If holding Canadian citizenship is crucial to keep your current job.
- Educational Pursuits: When you need citizenship to attend a Canadian school, college, or university.
- Critical Travel Needs: In cases of family emergencies like illness or death, where obtaining a passport from your current nationality is not feasible.
- Federal Court Decision: After receiving a Federal Court decision on a previous citizenship application.
While you can request urgent processing in these situations, the decision ultimately rests with the citizenship authorities, and they may consider each case on its merits.
Who can help me with the application?
You can choose to have someone, like a citizenship application lawyer, assist you during your citizenship application process. However, it's essential that this individual is authorized by immigration authorities to represent you. Authorized representatives can be immigration lawyers, articling students, specific paralegals, or immigration consultants who are part of the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council. They are recognized professionals qualified to guide you through your citizenship application.
What is the cost of a citizenship application?
Canadian Citizenship Fees Explained
Obtaining Canadian citizenship involves specific fees:
Adults (18 years and older):
- Processing Fee: $530
- Right of Citizenship Fee: $100 (For stateless adults born to a Canadian parent, there's a $100 Right of Citizenship Fee)
Minors (Under 18 years):
Additional Citizenship Fees and Services:
- Citizenship Certificate (for proof of citizenship): $75
- Resuming your citizenship:
- Adults (18 years and above): $530
- Minors (under 18): $100
- Renouncing your citizenship: $100
- Right of citizenship: $100
These fees cover various aspects of the citizenship process and associated services.
Can I be a dual citizen?
Canadian law allows individuals from other countries to become Canadian citizens while retaining their original citizenship. In essence, you can hold both Canadian citizenship and your home country's citizenship simultaneously.
However, it's important to note that not all countries permit dual citizenship. To ensure whether dual citizenship applies to you, you should contact your home country's consulate or embassy for specific information and guidance.
Can I apply while studying abroad?
If you're a student in Canada, you still have the opportunity to apply for Canadian citizenship, but you must fulfill certain requirements:
- Permanent Residency: You should hold permanent resident status in Canada.
- Residency Requirement: Reside in Canada for at least 3 years out of the past 5 years as a permanent resident.
- Income Tax Returns: File income tax returns as required by Canadian tax laws.
- Language Proficiency: Demonstrate adequate proficiency in English or French, which are the official languages of Canada.
Meeting these criteria allows you to pursue Canadian citizenship while pursuing your studies in the country.
Can I apply while living abroad?
Once you meet the qualifications for Canadian citizenship and submit your application, it's not mandatory to stay in Canada while it's being processed. However, you might need to return to Canada for two crucial steps:
- Citizenship Test: You could be asked to come back for a citizenship test, where you'll demonstrate your knowledge of Canada and its values.
- Oath Ceremony: The final step often involves an oath ceremony, which signifies your commitment to becoming a Canadian citizen. You may be required to attend this ceremony in person.
While you're not obligated to stay in Canada during the entire application process, being available for these specific events is essential to completing your journey toward Canadian citizenship.
What is the fastest way to become a citizen?
The quickest route to Canadian citizenship involves these steps:
- Become a Permanent Resident: First, attain permanent resident status in Canada through the appropriate channels.
- Meet Residency Requirement: Once a permanent resident, fulfill the residency criteria by physically residing in Canada for at least 3 years within the last 5 years.
- Apply for Citizenship: After meeting the residency requirement, apply for Canadian citizenship to expedite your path to becoming a citizen.
This method streamlines the process, making it the fastest way to achieve Canadian citizenship.