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Make sure you qualify for Canadian citizenship
Before you download an application form, check that you’ll be allowed to become a citizen.
Here’s an overview of the criteria:
1. Permanent residency
You have to be a permanent resident (PR) of Canada in order to apply for citizenship. This means that you’re already living and working in Canada, and have been approved through the PR process. You can apply for citizenship even if your PR card has expired.
2. Time in Canada
You need to have been physically in Canada for at least 1,095 days in the five years immediately before you apply. If you’re not sure, you can check out the handy calculator here.
3. Income taxes
As a permanent resident who works in Canada, you’re expected to pay income taxes. To ensure you’re eligible for citizenship, you need to file your taxes for a minimum of three years out of the previous five years. You can get more information about that right here.
4. Knowledge of English or French
Canada is a bilingual country – its two official languages are English and French. To be considered for citizenship, applicants aged 18 to 54 need to prove that they can communicate in one of these languages.
Your language level should be at least a 4 on the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) scale, which is equivalent to an A2+ on the CEFR scale. You can do this by taking an official English or French exam.
Citizenship officials also assess your language skills whenever you speak with them.
5. Criminal activity
As you might expect, committing crimes – inside or outside of Canada – can be a barrier on your road to citizenship. Because everyone’s situation is unique, you should talk to your lawyer to see if you’re still eligible to apply.
The Canadian citizenship process
Once you’ve got everything straight, you can fill out your application form. There are various forms for specific situations:
- If you’re over 18 years old, use this form.
- Parents/guardians applying for someone under 18 can apply here.
- People under 18 who are applying without a parent can find the form here.
- If you’ve served with the Canadian Armed Forces, your application is here.
- Adoptees of a Canadian parent need to use this form.
- If you were born outside of Canada to a Canadian parent, apply here.
The average processing time for a Canadian citizenship application is about 12 months. Use this checklist to make sure you submit everything correctly the first time to avoid delays!
When (and only when) you’re ready to submit your application, it’s time to pay online. The costs may vary depending on the application you’re submitting. Payment includes a processing fee as well as a fee for the right of citizenship. To get more information about possible costs, click here.
Send your application
At this point, you can send your completed application package (including your documents and the checklist we mentioned) to the processing centre by mail or courier. It needs to be received no later than three months after you sign it.
Complete the test
Shortly after you’ve received an acknowledgement of receipt (AOR) letter (meaning your application has been put into a queue for assessment), you’ll be invited to take a knowledge test and/or an interview. You only have to take the test if you’re between 18 and 54.
The 30-minute test includes laws, history, geography, government and economy, and can be taken in French or English. It consists of 20 multiple-choice and true-or-false questions. You can use this study guide to prepare!
Do the interview
Most applicants are required to be interviewed (with some exceptions). The interviewer will give you your test results, evaluate your English, (if you’re between 18 and 54), check your application and documents and ask you any questions they have.
If you fail the test but meet all other requirements, you might be scheduled to take another test, but the wait could be two months or more.
If everything goes well, you’ll be given a date for your citizenship ceremony!
Congratulations, new Canadian!
Well done! You prepared yourself, met all the requirements, and got your citizenship!
Welcome to Canada! Bienvenue au Canada!