Becoming a Canadian citizen is the goal of many immigrants because, as Canadian citizens, they are entitled to certain rights and freedoms under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The same charter gives democratic rights to the people, meaning, a person after becoming a Canadian citizen, can partake in federal, provincial or territorial and local elections by casting their vote. Also, once a person becomes a Canadian citizen, he/she is free to move within the country and travel in and out of the country. Permanent residents on the other hand cannot take part in the country’s democratic process and are also subjected to residency obligation, meaning, they have to spend 730 days within the last 5 years in order to maintain their status as permanent residents. Besides this, it was reported in 2019 that, with a Canadian passport you could travel to around 169 countries around the world either visa-free or on a visa-on-arrival basis. Therefore, a Canadian passport is one of the most powerful passports in the world.

Canadian citizenship can be obtained in any one of the following ways:

Citizenship by Birth

Any child/person born in Canada becomes a Canadian citizenship due to the fact that they were born on Canadian land. Any child born on Canadian airspace, waters and Canadian registered ships and aircraft also becomes a Canadian citizen. The citizenship is not granted to a child born in Canada if, their parents are diplomats in Canada and neither parent was a permanent resident or Canadian citizen at the time of their birth.

Citizenship by Descent

If a child is born or adopted outside of Canada to a parent who is a Canadian citizen, then the child is entitled to Canadian citizenship by descent. There is an exception to this rule. The parent must have obtained their own citizenship by being born in Canada or through naturalization. If the parent himself/herself was born outside of Canada, and obtained their own citizenship by descent, then their child is not entitled to citizenship by descent. This is known as first-generation limit.

Considering the first-generation limit, if you adopt a child outside of Canada, you may want to sponsor your child for permanent residency and then obtain his/her Canadian citizenship by naturalization. This will give him/her an option to get citizenship for their own child if he/she is born outside of Canada.

Citizenship by Naturalization

If you are a permanent resident, then you may be able to become a Canadian citizen through naturalization. There are certain eligibility requirements you must meet to be able to apply for citizenship. You must:

  • be a permanent resident of Canada
  • lived in Canada as a permanent resident for 3 years in the past 5 years*
  • filed income taxes
  • meet language requirements
  • pass citizenship test
  • take Oath of Citizenship

*Note: If you have lived in Canada as temporary resident prior to becoming a permanent resident, you may be able to count certain days towards the time you must have spent in Canada in order to be eligible to apply for citizenship.

If you have spent time abroad serving as a crown servant or residing with your Canadian citizen or permanent resident parents or spouse, you may be able to count that time as if it was spent in Canada.

If you need help with calculating your residency in Canada or have questions such as whether or not you meet the eligibility requirements, you can contact us.