In this article, we’ll examine the intricacies of Canadian citizenship, exploring the benefits, the requirements, the relevant Canadian immigration policies, and the routes available to individuals seeking to become Canadian citizens.

Whether you’re curious about the advantages of being granted citizenship in Canada, the process of obtaining it, or the eligibility criteria, this comprehensive guide will equip you with the knowledge you need to embark on your journey toward becoming a Canadian citizen. 

Benefits of Canadian Citizenship

Being a Canadian citizen comes with numerous advantages that enhance the quality of life and provide a sense of security and belonging.

Economic benefits

Canadian citizens enjoy a robust economy, high employment rates, and a high standard of living. They have access to free health care and excellent educational opportunities. The Canadian passport is one of the most powerful globally, ranking 8th on our Global Passport Index. It allows visa-free travel to 172 countries, facilitating convenient worldwide travel for business and for leisure.

Social benefits

Canada is known for its multicultural society, which celebrates diversity. As a Canadian citizen, you can enjoy a peaceful, safe, and friendly environment with a high quality of life. They also have access to comprehensive social services and a strong social security network.

Political benefits

Canadian citizens have the right to vote in local, territorial, provincial, and federal elections, allowing them to participate actively in the democratic process. They can also run for political office, contributing to the country’s governance and decision-making.

How to Get Canadian Citizenship: Main Routes

There are several routes to acquiring Canadian citizenship: By birth, by descent, and by naturalization. Each pathway has its own set of requirements and processes.

Canadian Citizenship by birth

Anyone born in Canada automatically becomes a Canadian citizen, regardless of the citizenship status of their parents. This is known as jus soli or right of the soil.

Canadian Citizenship by descent

Canadian citizenship by descent applies to individuals born abroad to a Canadian parent. This is known as jus sanguinis or right of blood. (Note that Canadian citizenship by descent is not available to anyone born abroad if only their grandparents or extended family are Canadian citizens).

Canadian Citizenship by naturalization

Naturalization is the process through which foreign nationals living in Canada as permanent residents apply for Canadian citizenship. This process involves meeting certain requirements, including stay requirements, language proficiency, and passing a Canadian citizenship test.

Permanent Resident Status Requirements

canadaTo apply for Canadian citizenship through naturalization, you must first be a permanent resident of Canada.

This status allows you to live, work, or study anywhere in Canada, and it is the first step towards becoming a Canadian citizen. To keep permanent resident status in Canada, you must be physically present in Canada for at least 730 days during the last five years on a sliding scale.

These 730 days don’t need to be continuous, and some of the time spent abroad may count toward the 730 days. However, if a permanent resident of Canada lives abroad for a longer period and the residency requirements are not met, PR status may be lost.

  • Stay requirements: To apply for Canadian citizenship, you must meet the physical presence requirement, which means being in Canada as a permanent resident for at least 1,095 days during the five years before the date of your application. If you spent time in Canada as a temporary resident or protected person, this may count towards those 1,095 days. The Federal Government of Canada has an online calculator to help you check whether you are in compliance.
  • Language requirements: Applicants for Canadian citizenship must demonstrate proficiency in either English or French, Canada’s two official languages.
  • Citizenship test requirement: The citizenship test (for applicants aged between 18 and 54) is a crucial part of the naturalization process. Canadian officials use it to assess your knowledge of Canada and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.
  • Tax requirements: Filing income tax returns is an important part of the citizenship application process.

Canadian Economic Citizenship

Québec Immigrant Investor Program

The Québec Immigrant Investor Program was discontinued in 2019 and will go through changes before applications reopen.

It’s expected that the revamped program will require the citizenship applicant to demonstrate stronger settlement ties to the province. Adequate Knowledge of the French language may also be required.

For reference, the requirements for applicants for the previous version of the Québec Immigrant Investor Program were:

  • Having a net worth of at least CAD $2 million
  • Having two years of suitable management or business experience within the five years preceding the application
  • Being able to make an investment of CAD $1.2 million in a prescribed government-guaranteed investment for a period of five years

Approved applicants were granted permanent residence in Canada, specifically in the province of Quebec, being able to apply for Canadian citizenship later.

Start-Up Visa

The Start-up Visa Program in Canada attracts talented and ambitious entrepreneurs with innovative business ideas. To qualify, you need a commitment from a designated Canadian venture capital fund, angel investor group, or business incubator.

This endorsement ensures financial backing and potential for success. Language proficiency and sufficient settlement funds are also required. Successful applicants obtain permanent residency and can apply for Canadian citizenship after meeting residency requirements.

Canadian Exceptional Citizenship

Express Entry

The Express Entry system is a streamlined process designed by the Canadian government. It manages applications for Canadian permanent residence through three economic immigration programs: the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP), and the Canadian Experience Class (CEC). Let’s explore each program in more detail:

  • Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP)

The FSWP is tailored for individuals who possess valuable work experience and skills. Through this program, you can showcase your expertise in a specific occupation and demonstrate to Canadian officials how your skills align with the needs of the Canadian labor market.

  • Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP)

If you are skilled in a particular trade, the FSTP is an ideal pathway to becoming a Canadian permanent resident. This program is designed for skilled workers who have the necessary qualifications and experience in a specific trade, such as carpentry, plumbing, or electrician work.

  • Canadian Experience Class (CEC)

For skilled workers who have already gained valuable Canadian work experience, the CEC provides an excellent opportunity to transition to permanent residency. If you have been working in Canada and have acquired the necessary skills and experience, the CEC allows you to demonstrate your contribution to the Canadian workforce.

Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs)

Another interesting way of acquiring permanent residence is through the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). This is a Canadian immigration pathway offered by various provinces and territories, each with its own specific streams and criteria, tailored to the particular needs and priorities of the province or territory. Note that candidates who use a PNP can do so through two streams: they can apply directly to a province through a base stream or get an enhanced nomination through the federal Express Entry system.

Self-Employed Persons Program (cultural or sports sectors)

The Self-Employed Persons Program is an immigration pathway in Canada designed for individuals who have relevant experience in cultural activities or athletics and intend to become self-employed in these fields. The program is aimed at attracting individuals who can contribute to the cultural, artistic, or athletic scenes in Canada.

To be eligible, you must demonstrate that you have relevant experience in cultural activities or athletics of at least two years obtained within the five years prior to your application.

This may include working as a musician, artist, athlete, or coach. Your application for the Self-Employed Persons Program will be assessed based on various factors, including your experience, education, age, language proficiency, and adaptability. The goal is to ensure that you have the potential to become self-employed and make a positive contribution to Canadian society in your chosen field.

As an applicant, you must also demonstrate that you have sufficient funds to support yourself and your family members during your initial period in Canada. This requirement ensures that you can establish yourself and your business without relying on social assistance.

How to Get Canadian Citizenship: The Bottom Line

Once you have met all the requirements and your application for Canadian citizenship has been approved by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, you will be invited to attend a citizenship ceremony. At the ceremony, you will take the oath of citizenship, receive your Canadian citizenship certificate, and officially become a Canadian citizen. This is a significant moment, marking your formal entry into the Canadian family.

The power of the Canadian passport

The Canadian passport symbolizes your Canadian citizenship and is a powerful international travel document. It is recognized and respected worldwide, offering visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to over 180 countries and territories. This makes it one of the most powerful passports globally, providing Canadian citizens unparalleled freedom for global travel, work, and exploring the world.

You can find out more about this in our articles about Canada Passport Visa-Free Countries and the Canadian Passport Ranking.

How Can Global Citizen Solutions Help You?

Global Citizen Solutions is a boutique migration consultancy firm with years of experience delivering bespoke residence and citizenship by investment solutions for international families. With offices worldwide and an experienced, hands-on team, we have helped hundreds of clients worldwide acquire citizenship, residence visas, or homes while diversifying their portfolios with robust investments. 

We guide you from start to finish, taking you beyond your citizenship or residency by investment application. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Canadian Citizenship

What are the benefits of Canadian citizenship?

Being granted Canadian citizenship offers numerous benefits. If you become a Canadian citizen, you will gain the right to vote, eligibility for government jobs, a Canadian passport (and its international travel benefits), access to free health care, and the ability to live, work, or study anywhere in Canada.

How can I apply for Canadian citizenship?

You can apply for Canadian citizenship to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada through three main routes: by birth, by descent, or by naturalization (once you have met the residence requirements). Each pathway has its own set of requirements and processes.

What is the difference between a permanent resident and a citizen in Canada?

While both permanent residents and citizens have the right to live, work, or study anywhere in Canada, only a Canadian citizen has the right to vote in elections, run for political office, and hold a Canadian passport, which is one of the strongest in terms of convenience for international travel.

How do I become a Canadian citizen by naturalization?

To become a Canadian citizen by naturalization, you must have lived in Canada for a minimum of three years as a permanent resident, pay a processing fee and a citizenship fee, pass a Canadian citizenship test, which will require you to answer questions and demonstrate your language skills in English or French. You will also need to prove that you have paid income taxes during the time you lived in Canada.

Finally, you must attend a citizenship ceremony, where you will take the oath and then receive a certificate of Canadian citizenship and officially become a new Canadian citizen.

What are the language requirements for Canadian citizenship?

Applicants who want to be granted citizenship of Canada must demonstrate proficiency in either English or French, Canada’s two official languages. You must be able to understand simple instructions and hold everyday conversations, as well as use enough common words and phrases and basic grammar to express yourself in either language.

What is the Canadian citizenship test?

The Canadian citizenship test (for applicants aged between 18 and 54) is a crucial part of the naturalization process. The citizenship test assesses whether you have adequate knowledge of Canada and the rights and responsibilities of being a Canadian citizen.

What is the processing time for Canadian citizenship applications?

The processing time for a Canadian citizenship application varies, but the average time taken between when  Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the Canadian immigration authority, receives an application and when it makes a decision is 17 months, as of October 2023.

Can I hold dual citizenship in Canada?

Yes, Canada recognizes dual citizenship. This means that, if your country of birth also recognizes dual citizenship, you can be a Canadian citizen and a citizen of another country at the same time unless the other country does not allow dual citizenship.

What is the Express Entry system?

Express Entry is a system used by the Canadian government to manage applications for Canadian permanent residence through three economic immigration programs: Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP), and Canadian Experience Class (CEC).

What are Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs)?

PNPs allow Canadian provinces and territories to nominate individuals who wish to immigrate to Canada and are interested in settling in a particular province.

How can I make sure I am in accordance with the physical presence requirement to apply for citizenship?

To be eligible for Canadian citizenship, you must have been physically present in Canada for at least 1,095 days in the five years immediately before the date of your application.

To make sure you meet this requirement, you can calculate whether you are able to apply for citizenship using an online calculator provided by the Canadian government.

How can permanent residents become Canadian citizens?

Permanent residents can become Canadian citizens by meeting the eligibility requirements and successfully applying for citizenship.

Once approved, they become new Canadian citizens with all the rights and responsibilities that come with it, including the ability to participate fully in Canadian society and join the community of Canadian citizens.

How can I prepare for the Canadian citizenship test?

The best way to prepare for the test is to use the Canadian government’s official study guide, Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship.

How can I contact Canada immigration authorities?

For Canada immigration enquiries, visit the official website of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)  for up-to-date information. The website provides contact details, including phone numbers and online inquiry forms, to address specific queries or concerns related to immigration processes.

Which provinces are popular for Canada immigration?

Popular provinces for Canada immigration include Ontario,
British Columbia, Alberta, Quebec, and Manitoba. Nova Scotia is also becoming more popular because of the Nova Scotia Provincial Nominee Program.

How does Canada deal with illegal immigration?

Canada addresses illegal immigration through law enforcement and border control measures. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) manages entry points, conducts enforcement activities, and collaborates with other agencies to identify and address individuals without legal status.