1 Overview of Canadian Citizenship
Canadian citizenship is a legal status that offers numerous benefits and privileges, such as the right to vote, eligibility for certain jobs, and the ability to hold a Canadian passport. It also represents a commitment to Canada’s values, customs, and responsibilities. According to the Canadian government,
“Canadian citizenship is about more than a piece of paper. It is about being an active and responsible member of your community and your country.”
Each year, thousands of people apply for and obtain Canadian citizenship, making Canada one of the most popular countries for immigrants worldwide. In 2019, more than 340,000 people became new Canadian citizens.
Purpose of This Article
The purpose of this article is to provide a comprehensive and easy-to-read guide to answer the question,how long does it take to get Canadian citizenship?
Our goal is to cover every detail of the process, from eligibility requirements and application steps to factors that may impact the citizenship timeline. By the end of this article, you should have a clear understanding of the path to Canadian citizenship and the estimated time it will take to achieve it.
- Government of Canada - What citizenship means
- Statistics Canada - Annual number of new Canadian citizens
2 Eligibility Criteria for Canadian Citizenship
Permanent Resident Status
To apply for Canadian citizenship, you must first have permanent resident (PR) status in Canada. This status grants you the right to live, work, and study in Canada without any time limit. However, it’s important to note that PR status is not the same as citizenship and does not grant you the full rights and privileges of a Canadian citizen.
As a permanent resident, you must meet the residency requirement for citizenship, which entails being physically present in Canada for at least 1,095 days (3 years) within the five years before applying for citizenship. Time spent outside Canada can only be counted under specific circumstances, such as time spent with a Canadian spouse or common-law partner or working for a Canadian business.
Applicants aged 18 to 54 must demonstrate proficiency in either English or French, Canada’s official languages. You will need to provide evidence of your language skills by submitting test results from an approved language test or proof of completion of a secondary or post-secondary program conducted in English or French.
Knowledge of Canada and Citizenship Responsibilities
All applicants aged 18 to 54 are required to take the Canadian Citizenship Test, which assesses your knowledge of Canada’s history, values, institutions, and symbols, as well as the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. You must achieve a score of at least 15 out of 20 to pass the test.
Prohibitions and Exceptions
Certain factors may render you ineligible for Canadian citizenship, such as having a criminal record, facing deportation, or being under a removal order. Additionally, if you have been convicted of fraud, misrepresentation, or concealing material circumstances related to your citizenship application, you may be prohibited from applying for citizenship for a specified period.
- Government of Canada - Understand Permanent Resident Status
- Government of Canada - Physical Presence
- Government of Canada - Language Test
- Government of Canada - Citizenship Test
- Government of Canada - Prohibitions
3 Application Process
Step-by-Step Guide to Applying
- Check your eligibility: Ensure that you meet all the eligibility criteria for Canadian citizenship, including permanent resident status, residency requirements, language proficiency, and knowledge of Canada.
- Gather required documents: Collect all necessary documents to support your application, such as proof of permanent resident status, language test results, and travel history.
- Complete the application form: Fill out the Application for Canadian Citizenship (Form CIT 0002) accurately and honestly.
- Submit your application: Mail your completed application form, supporting documents, and payment to the designated processing center.
- Receive confirmation and updates: After submitting your application, you will receive a confirmation letter and updates on the status of your application.
- Take the citizenship test and attend the interview: If your application is accepted, you will be invited to take the citizenship test and attend an interview with a citizenship officer.
- Attend the citizenship ceremony: If you pass the test and interview, you will be invited to attend a citizenship ceremony, where you will take the Oath of Citizenship and receive your citizenship certificate.
The following documents are typically required for a Canadian citizenship application:
- Proof of permanent resident status (e.g., PR Card or Record of Landing)
- Language test results or proof of language proficiency
- Travel history and residency calculation (Form CIT 0407)
- Two identical citizenship photos
- Photocopies of your passport or travel document
- Any additional documents as required (e.g., marriage certificate, name change documents)
As of September 2021, the application fees for Canadian citizenship are:
- Adult (18 years and older): CAD 630
- Minor (under 18 years): CAD 100
Please note that these fees are subject to change, and it is essential to confirm the current fees on the Government of Canada website before applying.
The processing time for Canadian citizenship applications varies depending on factors such as the complexity of your application and the volume of applications received by the processing center. As of September 2021, the average processing time for a citizenship application is approximately 12 months. It is important to note that this is an estimate and processing times may change.
- Government of Canada - Application for Canadian Citizenship
- Government of Canada - Residence Calculator
- Government of Canada - Pay your fees
- Government of Canada - Check Processing Times
4 Citizenship Test and Interview
Preparing for the Citizenship Test
To prepare for the Canadian Citizenship Test, study the official study guide, “Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship.“1 This guide covers various topics, including Canada’s history, values, institutions, symbols, and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. You can also find additional resources, such as practice tests, quizzes, and flashcards, online to help you study effectively.
Test Format and Topics
The Canadian Citizenship Test is a multiple-choice exam consisting of 20 questions. It covers topics such as:
- Canadian history
- Canadian government and political system
- Geography of Canada
- Canadian symbols
- Rights and responsibilities of citizens
To pass the test, you must answer at least 15 questions correctly. The test is administered in either English or French, based on your preference, and you have 30 minutes to complete it.
Citizenship Interview and Possible Outcomes
After taking the citizenship test, you will attend a citizenship interview with a citizenship officer. The officer will review your application, verify your documents, and assess your language skills. They may also ask additional questions about your knowledge of Canada and your commitment to Canadian values.
There are three possible outcomes of the citizenship interview:
- Approval: If you pass the test and the interview, your application will be approved, and you will be invited to attend a citizenship ceremony.
- Further assessment: If the officer determines that you need further assessment, you may be asked to attend a second interview or provide additional documentation.
- Denial: If you fail the test, do not meet the eligibility requirements, or are found to have misrepresented your application, your citizenship application may be denied.
Re-taking the Test or Interview
If you fail the citizenship test on your first attempt, you will have a second opportunity to take the test within four to eight weeks. If you fail the test twice or do not pass the interview, your application may be denied. You can appeal the decision or reapply for citizenship after meeting the eligibility requirements and waiting a certain period.
- Government of Canada - Discover Canada
- Government of Canada - Citizenship Test
- Government of Canada - What to do if your application is denied
5 Oath of Citizenship and Ceremony
Scheduling the Ceremony
After successfully passing the citizenship test and interview, you will be invited to attend a citizenship ceremony. The ceremony is a formal event where you will take the Oath of Citizenship and receive your citizenship certificate. The time between your interview and the ceremony can vary, but typically, ceremonies are scheduled within a few months after completing the interview.
Taking the Oath
During the citizenship ceremony, you will take the Oath of Citizenship in front of a citizenship judge or presiding official. The oath is a pledge to be loyal to Canada, uphold its laws, and fulfill your duties as a Canadian citizen. You will recite the oath in either English or French, and it is customary to hold a Canadian flag while reciting the oath.
Receiving Your Citizenship Certificate
After taking the Oath of Citizenship, you will be presented with a citizenship certificate. This document serves as proof of your Canadian citizenship and allows you to apply for a Canadian passport. It is essential to keep your citizenship certificate in a safe place, as it is an important identification document.
6 Factors Affecting the Timeline for Citizenship
The time it takes to process your citizenship application can be affected by the complexity of your application. For example, if your case involves unique circumstances or requires additional documentation, it may take longer to process.
Processing Delays and Backlogs
Processing times for citizenship applications can also be affected by delays and backlogs at the processing center. High volumes of applications or changes in government policies can contribute to longer processing times.
Personal Factors and Life Events
Personal factors and life events may also impact the timeline for obtaining Canadian citizenship. For example, if you need to leave Canada for an extended period, it may affect your residency requirement, delaying your eligibility for citizenship.
COVID-19 Impact on Citizenship Processing
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the processing of citizenship applications. Processing centers have experienced temporary closures, reduced staff, and delays in processing times due to the pandemic. Additionally, citizenship ceremonies have been adapted to adhere to public health guidelines, resulting in modified formats and potential delays.
- Government of Canada - After you apply for citizenship
- Government of Canada - Oath of Citizenship
- Government of Canada - COVID-19: Impact on citizenship applications
7 Expedited Processing and Exceptions
In some cases, applicants may request urgent processing of their citizenship application due to specific circumstances, such as a serious illness, death in the family, or employment opportunities requiring citizenship. Urgent processing is granted on a case-by-case basis and requires sufficient evidence to justify the request. It is important to note that requesting urgent processing does not guarantee that your application will be processed faster.
Special Cases and Exceptions
There are some special cases and exceptions when it comes to Canadian citizenship:
- Adoption by Canadian citizens: Children adopted by Canadian citizens may be eligible for a grant of citizenship without meeting the residency requirement.
- Citizenship for stateless persons born to a Canadian parent: Stateless individuals born to a Canadian parent may be eligible for Canadian citizenship.
- Fast-track citizenship for certain members of the Canadian Armed Forces: Members of the Canadian Armed Forces with a minimum of three years of service may be eligible for fast-track citizenship.
The journey to Canadian citizenship involves meeting eligibility criteria, completing the application process, taking the citizenship test and interview, and participating in the citizenship ceremony. The timeline for obtaining Canadian citizenship varies depending on various factors but typically takes around 12 months.
Achieving Canadian citizenship is a significant milestone for many immigrants. By understanding the process, requirements, and potential factors affecting the timeline, you can better prepare and navigate your journey towards becoming a Canadian citizen.